Next year is going to be a big year.
I'm getting married in July, I'm inheriting more responsibility at work, and for the first time in six years, I will not be leading a high school bible study.
Ultimately, God has closed the door to that ministry, but at the same time, he has opened a bunch of new ones.
The past six years of high school ministry
I became a Christian in early 2011, and almost every ministry that I have served in has involved high schoolers.
Now, don't get me wrong. I absolutely love high school ministry. This year, in particular, has been great. The bible study group that I lead is attentive (which is a blessing when it comes to teenagers) and intelligent. They are fun to be around, and more importantly, they crave the Word of God.
I've been encouraged, and often rebuked, by the kids in my group. God is going to use these kids in an amazing way, and I'm genuinely disappointed that I won't be around to see how that plays out.
Nonetheless, I knew that it was time to leave high school ministry due to two reasons: first, wise people around me have said that "it is time to move on"; and second, God has placed several new convictions on my heart.
Listening to those around me
Earlier this year, some of the elders and leaders of my church spoke to me and suggested that "it was time to move on". They provided two reasons why this was so: first, they flagged that the church had other needs, which I could definitely help out with; and second, they flagged that I should start sharing with other young adults my experiences of transitioning into full time work and marriage.
On a lighter note, my mother and my fiancée are both excited that I'm leaving high school ministry. Ultimately, this means that I can spend more time on Sundays resting and hanging out with them.
At my church, the high school bible studies are held at 11:30AM on Sundays, but I attend a church service that starts at 5:00PM. Therefore, over the last few years, I've been at church on Sundays from 11:00AM to 7:00PM. I've never really had a problem with this time-frame. However, freeing up Sundays next year will allow me to spend more time with my mother. This is important as she is a single parent with only one child, and I'm conscious that it will take time for her to adjust to my marriage (and in particular, the fact that I won't always be around).
New convictions from God
Over the past year, God has placed many new convictions on my heart.
My mother started attending church, which made me realise that the Gospel can speak into anyone's life.
I went overseas for a mission trip, which made me realise that the Gospel is able to transcend all cultures, but unfortunately, there's not enough individuals who are willing to bring the Gospel to them.
And finally, I started full time work in a commercial context, which made me realise that the dreams and aspirations of this world are fleeting.
These experiences have changed me, and ultimately, have opened new doors to new ministries.
The new doors that God has opened
Next year, I will focus on improving my Chinese. This will allow me to discuss the Gospel with my mum, and hopefully in time, with my entire family in China.
I will spend more time praying for missionaries, learning about mission, and finding ways to support missionaries from Australia.
And finally, I will lead a bible study consisting of people in a similar life stage, knowing very well that God wants me to share what he's been teaching me.
Jia Pan Xiao attends GracePoint Chinese Presbyterian Church and commenced working as a lawyer in early 2017. In his spare time, Jia Pan enjoys watching American sports, drinking coffee and devouring chocolate mud-cake. Jia Pan Xiao's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jia-pan-xiao.html