Taking the Leap by Roxanne Wong ’17

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As a child growing up in Singapore, I had no idea what I want-
ed to be, but I knew it had to be something glamorous and lu-
crative. The one thing I knew I didn’t want to become was a

teacher. My mother was a teacher, and the long hours, draining
days, and constant drama from parents and colleagues wore her
down. The reality of teaching— no glamour, low pay, low status
and very little free time— was apparent to me from a young
age. I was not about that life.
In my freshman year of college, I was leading a youth retreat
when the girls in my group started telling me about a teacher
at their school who was vehemently against Christianity. One
girl was singled out and ridiculed just for raising her hand when
the teacher asked who was Christian. Due to the school being
an international school, it was beyond the reach of any laws
against religious discrimination. As I listened to these girls, I
felt a sudden strong stirring in my heart. If there are teachers there
against God, there should be teachers there for Him, I thought. The
thought gripped me and took hold, and I couldn’t shake it off.

As soon as the retreat ended, I was online, searching for gradu-
ate programs in education.

The complete 180 in my attitude towards teaching made me
realize that God had moved and was calling me on this path. I
started seeking out opportunities to learn more about teaching,
volunteering as a tutor at a children’s home, embarking on a
teaching internship, and intentionally taking education classes.
Then, my senior year came and I started seriously looking at
graduate schools in the US.

One look at the cost of taking the GREs created an overwhelm-
ing cloud of doubt. I had grown up in a low-income single par-
ent household and there was no way I could afford the GREs,

let alone the tuition costs of a master’s program. Feeling com-
pletely confused, I turned to God, surrendering myself to Him.

I’ll go wherever you want me to, Lord. The words came out in a rush,
but I meant them. I knew that I was in the hands of the one who
knew the best plan for me.

A few weeks later, I embarked on a research project for a class,
interviewing immigrants about their experiences with religion
and migration. As my last interview wrapped up, the couple I
was interviewing started asking me questions about my future,
and I spoke in passing about my dilemma. The conversation
continued, and as I was about to leave, my respondents looked
at each other and one of them spoke. “We’d like to pay for you
to take the GREs.” I was blown away. Tears filled my eyes as
they told me about how they felt compelled to allow me this

The application process rushed by in a blur and I was constant-
ly reminded that everything I was doing was for the will of God.

As acceptance letters began to arrive, I prayed about which
school I should choose to attend. Brown had consistently been
my first choice, and when they offered me a partial scholarship,
it seemed like a clear sign. Still, it was only a partial scholarship,
and I found myself doubting this path and wondering how I
would ever be able to afford the rest of the tuition fees.
I’ll go wherever you want me to, Lord. The words came out in
a rush, but I meant them. I knew that I was in the hands of the
one who knew the best plan for me.
Give me faith to trust what You say. My prayer was still the same, and
again I told God to use me and send me wherever He wanted
me to go. However, reality was hitting me hard. I had spent 21
years in the same country, and now would be living on my own
10,000 miles from home without the structure of dorm life. I
kept wondering if this was really where He was calling me. Was
the trouble and expense worth it? After all, I rationalized, wasn’t
there work I could do in Singapore, where I was comfortable?

The thing is, God never calls us to be comfortable. Through-
out the Bible, God constantly calls people to leave their homes

into the unknown. Abram left his nation (Gen 12:1-20), Mo-
ses turned on his comfortable life in the palace (Exod 2:11-22),

Ruth departed from her people and the only place she had
ever known (Ruth 1:8-19), and Jesus called His disciples away
from everything familiar to them (Matt 4:18-22; Mark 2:13-14).
Clinging on to my sense of security in Singapore, I decided to
create a crowdfunding page, knowing that this was a longshot
and telling myself that if I wasn’t able to raise enough money,
I wouldn’t go.
Incredibly, beyond my wildest hopes, people from all over the

world— even complete strangers— supported my crazy cam-
paign. The editor of my college newspaper asked me to write

about my crowdfunding venture, and soon the story was be-
ing shared hundreds of times on social media platforms and

through word of mouth. The generosity was astounding. To this
day, I feel like I’m living a dream. I couldn’t believe the power of
compassion and the power of God.

Surrendering is difficult, but God always provides.
Now I’m coming to the end of my time at Brown, where I’ve
learned, grown, and experienced so much more than I could
have in my comfortable little world back in Singapore. This past

January, I attended an international school job fair in Massa-
chusetts, where I was hired by the best international school in

the Philippines. When I got the job offer, I broke down, knowing

that this was entirely God’s plan, the one He had been prepar-
ing me for since He’d planted the first seed in my heart fresh-
man year.

Surrendering to God has been the best decision I have ever
made. Teaching may not provide a life of glamor or wealth,
but knowing I’m where God wants me to be is better than any
money or fame. Although there are times when I’m anxious
or worried, I know He’s got my back, and He’s taking me on
a journey I could never have planned on my own. In August, I
will have lived in three countries in three years, a far cry from
spending 21 years in the same city. Jesus clearly stated that with

God, all things are possible (Matt 19:26). If you feel God tug-
ging on your heart, or even if you have no idea what your next

step is, I encourage you to trust God completely and surrender
yourself to His will. Have the courage to let yourself be used in
incredible ways.

Roxanne Wong was a graduate student in Education.

Photo by Megan Peters

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