My name is Karen Lee and by the grace of God, I belong to His family through grace in Jesus Christ.
I was born in Hong Kong, and I have a love of writing, reading and enjoy the company of music and cats where I am afforded the opportunity.
It did not seem that long ago that I arrived at Central Baptist Church with my mum, having not long moved to Australia from Hong Kong, the first step in a story that God had laid out before the both of us. I have a qualification in Health Sciences and have been working in ad- ministration for the past ten or so years. I had been privileged to have been a part of the high school, university and young workers’ minis- tries, and I currently serve in the International Congregation, in the ministries of Street Café, the Welcoming Team, Growth Groups and assist here and there with various ministries as need arises. I also serve as a deacon.
As I think back on my journey at Central Baptist Church, I realised that God was very gracious to me even in my inexperience when I started leading in High School ministry at the age of eighteen. There was I smoothed of my rough edges for seven years, and took on University Ministry then went onto young workers’ ministry until I was invited to consider Street Café and onto further responsibilities. Through this time, God has taught me (and is still teaching me) what it means to partner with the King of Kings. He has taught me that fear and unbelief will kill the believer from the inside – whether it is fear of burn-out, fear of rejection, or just fear of being hurt – all these are evidence that we have not yet truly learned love. Fear leads us to control, to manipulate – whether by rules or reason to our detriment. Fear causes us to fight or to flee – to react rather than to respond, because fear tells us that things are out of control. God constantly reminds me that in spite of all that is happening, He is still the sovereign King of the Universe, and it is He who will ultimately make judgement. Fear causes self-preservation – Jesus declared that those who try to save themselves will lose their life, but those who spend it in His Name will find it (Luke 17:33). It has been said many times, that love conquers all, yet this lesson is the hardest of all. To truly love is to be vulnerable, to risk being hurt, and to take chances on others because we have been shown such abundant grace by God Himself. To truly love is a constant struggle against insisting on being right all the time, and to give up one’s freedom to boast, and to judge and to exact human justice.
I have observed that the greatest pitfall in ministry is to forget just how fallen and wretched we have been before God touched our lives with His grace. When the people of God forget the grace they have been shown, they cease to give grace to those who truly need it. When grace is forgotten in a church, figures will eclipse faith, policies will prevail over people and religion reigns until relationships are soured and destroyed. It is then that the enemy can find its way in and attack the church of God. This goes back to the question of identity – remembering that as Christians, we are not “better” than others; we are sinners saved by grace. Until we come face to face with just how wretched we are, there is no real concept of grace. And it is in the measure of grace we display that others can see the true measure of our faith.
I often wonder what people perceive when the word “deacon” is mentioned. Jesus chose the weak, the un- educated, and the women to be His followers. Shepherds were His first human messengers. I have once heard it said, that in a particular church, when the pastor was looking for people to serve as leaders, he went to the lunch hall after a big event, and watched the people. He noted those who stood around making high-sounding conversation, and he noted those who were in the background washing up and picking up the rubbish. He then made invitation to those who were picking up the rubbish and cleaning the tables to be on his team. The one who was willing to wash the toilets and did so with love and a cheerful heart was the one who he gave the most responsibility to.
To me, serving as a deacon is not about committees and meetings and fancy words and traditions, although be- ing a deacon seems to encompass these tasks within the Central Baptist context. Being a deacon is about being willing and ready to scrub the toilets, to sit with the homeless, to get our hands dirty, to clean up after the event. How can I lead where I will not go myself? But such is the example of Jesus, and this is one lesson I am learning day by day. So many days I fail, and I take the easy way out; but God is gracious, and He is giving me the opportunities to be more like Christ each day at work, at church and at home. And that lesson will continue until He calls me back to Glory.
I was asked to write about what achievements I thought I had gained in ministry. It seemed an odd question to me, as all our works are filthy rags in the light of the Gospel of Grace. While I cannot speak of achievements, I do have a number of highlights, milestones and ethos I can perhaps mention. I have a passion in interactive training, and assisting with the combined leaders’ training day in 2013 was a massive ministry highlight for me. I have an interest in documentation and collating procedures for future reference, and I en- joy designing and delivering training in a small-group context. I also believe very much in training others on the job and allowing people to make mistakes. If Jesus allowed His disciples to make mistakes (e.g. Peter, Paul etc.) who are we to demand perfection of others? We may demand excellence of ourselves, but we must al- low others take their own journeys with God.
The constant challenge of working out the distribution of time and energy between the ministries of work, church and home is never-ending. I am convinced that all of the “parts” of our lives are a whole – and the whole of our lives belong to God. Whether at work or at home or at church, what we do is a part of our ministry that God has given us, we are “on mission” at all times, because ministry is not what we do, it is WHO we are. It is in seeking our identity in Christ in all the contexts that He has placed us in that we begin to see His sovereignty and His providence. I believe God wants us to give our best at work as to Him, and to give our best at church as to Him and to give our best at home as to Him. The only way that can happen and be sustained, is if we allow Him to work through us with His Holy Spirit. It is from His well our water of life must be drawn.
So, thank you for reading thus far, and for allowing me the opportunity to introduce myself. My hope for Central Baptist is that God will make this church a lighthouse and a beacon in this City of Sydney, that our influence and ministries will go beyond the four heritage-listed sandstone walls of the church build- ing, that our door is where people meet Jesus and that our gathering will be an out-flowing of supernatural love and fellowship that will bring honour and praise to Him.