"I would never be a missionary!" Alvin Tey, Executive Director of OM Mercy Teams International (OM MTI), once declared.
There was nothing that would have pointed Alvin in that vocational direction then. He had everything going for him in his life. Having attained a BSc in Government and Economics from London School of Economics on a Singapore government scholarship, Alvin also held strategic and senior management roles in the public sector, in two universities in Singapore, and with a global business consulting firm.
“I was a typical young Singaporean. Everything was about upward mobility and ambition,” he asserted.
Yet Alvin was not happy. “A lot of it was driven by my own issues of security and identity,” he admitted. “However, God knew me better than I knew myself. I had to be brought into a couple of crises in my life to find out that my career choices did not give me true happiness. God had to let me come to the end of my tether. I really had to let go.”
Let go Alvin did; God was about to change the course of his life. Before long, Alvin volunteered with his church, Praise Evangelical Free Church, in a partnership with formerly-OM India, to go to the slums of Bangalore on regular short-term trips to work amongst the poor.
During one critical trip to India, the leaders of the missions organisation then were sharing their challenges in working out some management and organisational issues. Alvin was thinking then that someone should be advising and helping them.
“In that same moment, I heard a distinct voice saying, ‘Why not you?’”
Alvin felt God was saying that he could use his strategic skills, people management skills and theological training to help mission fields that needed support in these areas. Moreover, integral missions and social justice were close to his heart as well.
There and then, Alvin prayed a prayer, “Lord, if you have a specific calling for me and my family, give me the courage to follow.”
Soon after, there was an opening for the position of Executive Director in OM MTI in 2014. “All the requirements fitted me, and here I am today,” Alvin smiled.
Today, Alvin, his wife, Kalene, and the OM MTI team are doing a good work bringing God’s hope to the poor and marginalised through integral missions, serving communities in East Asia Pacific such as Cambodia, Myanmar and the Thai-Burma Border.
Helming OM MTI has not been without challenges, such as the lack of funds, resources and manpower. However, when asked if becoming a missionary was a worthwhile decision, Alvin gave a firm yes.
He said, “I learnt out of difficult times to get on my knees to pray, and I witnessed God coming through for me every single time, providing people, finances and support for the ministry. Importantly, I learnt that I could model for my three young children through practical action a life of love and justice toward the poor and marginalised.”
Established since 2002, Mercy Teams International (MTI) is a ministry of Operation Mobilisation (OM), a global Christian movement seeking to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached. For more information about OM MTI's ministry opportunities in seeing the holistic transformation of poor and marginalised communities in the East Asia Pacific region, please visit www.mercyteams.net
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