9 March 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-
On 2nd of March, Lim Siew Ai—LPGA professional golfer and current Director of Golf Education and TPI Programs at Impact Elite Golf Academy—shared at the DUMC Faith@Work Bootcamp in Chefoo, Cameron Highlands, on how she changed her world one person at a time.
“One of things that I find a challenge is how people are always looking at me. I always likened my profession to that of a circus animal. I am in a roped area, where people from the outside watch me perform. But at some point, I asked myself, ‘What is my calling in life?’” said Siew Ai in humorous candor.
She found out in her earlier days of walking with God that she is to become an evangelist. But what images come into your mind when think of the word ‘evangelist’? Do you see the charismatic Billy Graham or someone in the park screaming threatening gospel messages? Some of us may look at an evangelist that way, from one extreme to another.
“But I challenge you, when you think about how you came to know Jesus, would that person fit into the description you currently have of an evangelist? Or would that person be someone who is a kind and compassionate, a friend who lends a shoulder to cry on?” said Siew Ai. “I think everyone in this room can be that second person.”
Growing up in a pre-believing family, Siew Ai believed that science could explain everything, and religion is for the weak who did not know how to handle life. Although her Christian friends would share with her about the gospel, Siew Ai would end up debating with them where she would ultimately triumph with her logical reasoning.
Nevertheless, her paradigm about Christianity shifted when she saw her biology teacher wearing a cross—a quiet yet powerful statement of her faith though her teacher did not evangelize her. Eventually, she accepted Christ in a church-run evangelistic event before she went to United States to study and play collegiate golf on a golf scholarship.
There, she went to church and found a group of athletes to fellowship with, under her coach who was the huddle leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She grew in her Christian walk through studying the Bible, memorizing Scripture, and spending quiet time with God.
Her collegiate golf career was very successful. During her third year at the University of South Carolina, she was one of the top eight collegiate golfers in United States, and was selected into the All American Team. She also excelled in her studies and eventually earned a degree in psychology. When she entered her final year, Siew Ai decided to chase ambition and achieve the best scores in golfing, to secure more accolades.
However, her relationship with God amidst her busy schedule eventually became distant. She started to feel unhappy with life even though she was actively serving in the church leadership. Everything looked great on the outside. But she constantly feel discontented inside, until a friend asked her take a little time off to 'get centered' in God and find herself again.
“I took a trip down to a local park where I sat down to read my Bible and talk with God. I told God, ‘If golf is going to become more important that You, I will today walk away from it.’ That was my Abraham-Isaac moment.
“(I told God) ‘If this (golf) is going to come between me and you, I will walk away from it. I want to put You first; You have to remain first. God is not just part of my life but number one part of my life. If this (golf) replaces You, then I need to stop doing this,’” said Siew Ai, recalling her prayer to God.
Giving up golf was a big decision for Siew Ai, since she has started playing at the young age of six years old and represented the country at only fourteen years old. Hence, to walk away from the fame, wealth, and the joy of playing golf at 21 years old then, was a tough decision to make.
While waiting for God to speak to her, Siew Ai decided to play three more tournaments, finishing at an amazing sixth position in the national championship. This confirmed that she wasn’t going to give up on golf.
As time went on, she started wondering if she was truly on the path that God wanted her on. So happened at that time, she was taking a class at church. Pairing with another lady for prayer, the lady told Siew Ai that God was pleased with what she was doing and gave her a rhema word called ‘International,’ not knowing Siew Ai was actually a professional golfer! Siew Ai took that as a confirmation of God’s approval for her to continue playing golf and decided to enter the qualifying school to earn a card on the LPGA Tour. But alas, she did not play well on the first day, landing herself on the last quarter of the players’ ranking in the chart.
“But when I prayed to God, He said, ‘I already promised you this.’ So, for the next three days, she said to herself, ‘I will play my heart out because I believe that you God can create whatever circumstances if this is your Will,’” said Siew Ai.
She miraculously qualified and earned a card on the LPGA Tour, and earned the distinction of becoming Malaysia’s first LPGA player! Why did she under-performed during the first day? Siew Ai likened it to how God intentionally weeded out the Israelites armies from several thousands to three hundred men to show His ownership of victory; she knew that it was God who caused her to be victorious (Judges 7).
“You can never out-give God,” she added, recalling how she struggled financially during her golf tours as a young professional. To save money, she would stay with people in different places. But a particular family in need moved her heart to send them an additional 10 percent above the tithes she planned to give to God that week. Although she attempted to rationalize in not sending the family the check, she quickly did it anyway. And when it was time for her to travel to another destination, she received money in a card her host handed her! The total she received from her host was more than the check she wrote out for that family in need.
“God has given me a platform of meeting people from various backgrounds who come to me due to the position I hold. You can change a person, one person at a time, through talking to them one-on-one. You are the evangelist. You can affect someone by your word and deed, and people do take notice. If you’re angry or stressed out, I don’t want to be you nor do I want to hang out with you. But if you have something that people admire, people would want to come to you and find out about the unspeakable joy and hope they see in your life,” said Siew Ai.
Evangelizing to Siew Ai started first with the people around her finding out that she is a believer in Christ. As a coach to junior golfers who want to become professional golfers, she always tells her children that their value is not based on their golf score as they are already valuable.
“With kids, they can find out whether you’re authentic. If they find that you are fake, what you say would not concern them,” said Siew Ai. “I have a code of conduct when I train my kids because I want my kids to be outstanding (in character).” She realized that people tend not to swear around her as well, out of respect of the standard she lives her life.
Retiring from actively playing on the LPGA tour allowed her to be more involved in her church in Birmingham, Alabama in the United States. Siew Ai had no qualms or regrets but an open heart to embrace the new season that God had called her to. She knew that God had called her to be involved with her Church of the Highlands.
“Everything I do is very intentional. God is continually preparing us for something in the future… Learning all the different things at Church of the Highlands, became a season of preparation for me,” said Siew Ai.
Nevertheless, two years ago, Siew Ai felt that God was slowly directing her to make the move back to Malaysia. With strong encouragement from her parents to come home, Siew Ai found a golf academy that was willing to employ her even though she took a year to return to Malaysia. “I needed to be in the center of God’s Will like how Moses said to God, ‘If God you’re not with us, I don’t want to go,'” said Siew Ai.
“God ordered a lot of things. All I did was to take one step forward at one time. If you keep on just walking, God can push you and steer you. But if you just stand there, God cannot do anything. Sometimes, you don’t know what is in front of you, you just need to walk in uncertainty,” said Siew Ai.
“You start to grow in your faith when you struggle. When you work out, the next morning, you feel that you just got run over by a truck. Your muscles have been torn and when they rebuild you become stronger. The same is true about your relationship with God. Friction wears you out, but when come out on the other end of the trial, you grow and become stronger in your faith,” said Siew Ai.
In closing, Siew Ai shared about the 4 simple steps of evangelism.
#1 Be aware of opportunities. It could be anyone from a sweeper to a janitor. Take time to say ‘thank you’ to them because they often go through their day without anyone noticing them. Siew Ai shared that in evangelism, we are marketing the gospel, not selling it. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who closes the deal.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:20)
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Cor 3:6)
She introduced the Engel scale as well, which helped to classify people into stages, starting from being resistant to the gospel, followed by being receptive, seeking, considering, understanding and finally receiving Christ.
#2 Commit them to prayer. Siew Ai shared that we can pray to God that He would draw them to Jesus (John 6:44), not through our great charisma or personality but by God who chooses to use us. We can also pray against the spirit that blinds their mind (2 Cor 4:4). And finally, pray that the believers will cross your paths and start a positive relationship with them (Matt 9:38).
#3 Show them that you care. Siew Ai shared how a pastor tipped a waitress $100, which touched her heart because she was a single mother with a sick child. If she did not know Christ, would she want to know Christ now? Absolutely! She also shared the how Jesus Christ passed Jericho, where Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector who was very wealthy lived. And because of a simple act of spending time with him and honoring him when no one did, Zacchaeus decided to turn from his ways and give half of his possessions to the poor, even paying back four times to those he cheated on.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. (1 Cor 9:19)
#4 Be ready to share. We have been given this task of sharing the gospel. But while we think that evangelism is single-event, it is a process involving many people before a person come to accept Christ. Likewise, it is not one person who brought Siew Ai to Christ and grooms her, but a combination of people. You are part of this system, and the best way to share the gospel is through sharing testimonies because it is an irrefutable personal experience.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)
References for pictures