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Julie Choi (third from left) with Harbour City Church members

Leaving My Life of "Anything Goes"

By Julie Choi, Oct 31, 2023

What does it mean to be a Christian? I thought I knew, but I didn’t. At least not until God called me out of the darkness and into the light when I heard the gospel preached at Student Outreach to the World, a campus ministry started by MTW missionary Jim Jung.

I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. If you travel around Sydney, there’s a good chance you’ll see beautiful, historic church buildings, some dating back hundreds of years. On the census, many will identify as Christian, but very few attend church. One Australian scholar describes Australia as a “post-post Christian pagan” society. It’s post- Christian, but to the point that it’s post-post Christian. The Christian past that used to be evident in Australian culture is so far removed that people are now operating without a clear cultural tradition. Anything goes.

And this is the type of Christianity I grew up with. Anything goes. What did it mean for me to be Christian? I didn’t know.

But I thought I did. I ticked the box of Christianity. I went to church. I tried to be good. I did “Christian” things.

I lived life without grace. When I became a university student and got my first taste of adult freedoms, I started going out more and seeking the things of the world. But I was still a good Christian, right? I wasn’t a terrible person. Surely, my good outweighed the bad. This is what it meant for me to be Christian. Anything goes, but I tried my best to be good.

That’s when I was invited to Student Outreach to the World, a university ministry begun by MTW missionaries. My cousin invited me to the regular weekly meetings, so I went here and there but then stopped going. I was already Christian, wasn’t I? I didn’t need this, too.

And then he invited me to SOW Camp, which is when all the campuses have a retreat together during the summer holiday. I reluctantly gave it a shot and that changed everything.

SOW Group at Camp 2011

Finding a True Faith and a Calling to Serve

At SOW Camp, I heard the true gospel preached and the Spirit gave me life. I was confronted by my sin, confronted by the gospel, confronted by amazing grace that would send Jesus to the cross for my sake.

I was saved by grace and brought into union with Christ. I knew now what it meant to be part of God’s people, to be fully known and loved by the Creator. I knew that I was a Christian.

This was the start of my journey as a disciple. God convicted me to serve the ministry that He had used to save me. I became a regular and then one of the student leaders. I would later invite my younger sisters and friends to SOW. It only seemed natural to share about the place where God met me with others.

Julie with Small Group

But as I continued to grow in my faith, it became clearer that “anything goes” teaching by a church meant that it did not have a right and proper stance toward the holy, inspired, inerrant Word of God. The campus ministry was vital in reaching out to students like me, and going to where I was lost, but I’m thankful that SOW did not ever claim to be the church and instead stressed the importance of the church. As my time as a student finished, it became clear that I needed to continue my faith journey at a new church where the true gospel was preached.

After graduating, I became a social worker. SOW was behind me now. It had served its temporary purpose in reaching university students like me. But little did I know what God had planned.

Called to Ministry and Marriage

My cousin who invited me to SOW all those years ago would become a pastor and continue to serve the ministry for many years alongside MTW missionary Jim Jung. And years after my time as a student, another MTW missionary arrived in Sydney. That’s when my cousin introduced me to David Choi.

David and Julie Choi

Never did I think I’d be on the verge of dating a foreigner but especially not a missionary. I had specifically told God that I did not want to marry anyone in ministry or missions. That wasn’t the life for me. But God had been working in me in ways I didn’t realize.

As David told me more about Mission to the World and his calling as a missionary, that’s when I first found out that it was thanks to foreign missionaries coming from America that SOW started. It was because of missions into Sydney that I came to faith. As I spent more time with David, as we got to know each other and as I learned more about missions in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, I wondered about that wish I had not to marry a missionary. This time I wasn’t being confronted by the gospel, but by the calling of marriage and missions.

We got married right at the start of the COVID lockdowns in March 2020 in a joyous but humble living room wedding in my parents’ home. I never thought I’d get married without shoes on, with peanut butter and vegemite on a counter behind me, and the family dog in attendance. But God knew.

But what did it mean for me to be a missionary in my home country? I wasn’t sure. Sometimes I’m still not sure.

This is something I’m still exploring and learning, but what I’m finding is that missionary life, aside from the cross-cultural barriers my husband deals with, is not all that different from what God calls all Christians to. He calls us to Himself, but He also calls us to serve Him and one another, to advance the kingdom, to proclaim the gospel, to grow the Church. I am thankful that this is a task for all believers. As God’s people, this is what we’re called to do.

David and Julie Represent their Ministry at Their Home Church

And I’m even more thankful that Jesus promised, before commanding us to go and make disciples, that all authority in heaven and on earth is His, and that He gave us the reassurance that He is with us always to the end of the age.

So, what does it mean to be a Christian? I think part of it is to be obedient to the gospel mandate that Jesus gave us. And I am forever grateful that others before me were obedient and brought the gospel to my campus and my country. And I am humbled that it is now our privilege to continue to support ministries like SOW and the work that God is doing down under.

Julie Choi

Julie Choi, along with her husband, David, serve locally with the MTW team in Sydney, Australia and regionally in Australasia (Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands). 

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Pray for the people of Sydney, Australia, a city which has been described as "post-post Christian pagan." Pray that God would open eyes to the truth of the gospel.

Pray for MTW's ministries in Sydney, including Harbour City Church, City Sanctum, and Student Outreach to the World, as well as the Pacific Islands Island to Island Partnership. 

Give thanks for Harbour City Church in Sydney, Australia, and pray that God would continue to use it to reach people who come to Sydney from all over Australasia. 

Pray for City Sanctum, a ministry to businessmen and women in Sydney, Australia that helps believers live out their faith in the workplace, and welcomes non-believers exploring their faith. 

Give thanks for Harbor City Church in Sydney, Australia, which is thriving with four campuses after years of struggles getting established.

Pray for missionary kids as they develop friendships with local children to have an impact for Christ.

Pray for those who feel called to missions, but don't yet know what or where God is calling them to. Pray for clarity, but also a resting peace in our sovereign God.

Pray for Harbor City Church in Sydney, Australia, and their mission to reach Asia. “New Australians”—second-generation immigrants and internationalized young adults of predominantly Asian descent—are the source not only of Harbor City Church’s steady growth, but also of its impact, much of it through its Student Outreach to the World ministry.

Pray for God to move among the Pacific Island nations of Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga through the Island to Island Gospel Fellowship.

Pray for MTW's work in the Pacific Islands and the Island to Island partnership including church leaders from Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, American Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. 

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