Teresa Chuah Hui-Ling

Lay Missionary

I am originally from Malaysia, but lived in New Zealand from 2008 to September 2020. Before my conversion, I was a typical young Chinese lady – working hard and saving as much money as I could. Working was my priority. I didn\’t really have friends as a foreigner in a foreign land before I encountered the Christian Faith. I worked as an administrator in Malaysia in various different companies and gained a little knowledge from each of the different departments I worked in. I started working as a waitress in Japan in 2005 when I made a trip to visit my mother after she had left Malaysia some 10 years previously. I spent a year in Japan. I then continued waitressing in Singapore for 2 years before I made a trip to New Zealand. Waitressing became my profession. I hardly visited my home in Malaysia. I was running away from home because there was no harmony and no love at home. The relationship between my parents continued to break down and turn sour and bitter.

After some crisis\’ in New Zealand, my past started to resurface. I started to wonder about my identity and what life was all about. I asked the question, \’Why do I exist?\’ The first answer that came to my thoughts were  \’I am nobody. Who cares?  I am a failure…. all sorts of negative terms came to my thoughts. I also rejected and condemned myself. I was very self-critical; I couldn\’t see any good in me! I was devastated and lost. But in 2014 I turned to Jesus and cried for help. The good Lord restored everything I once lost, my dignity and my identity. It was the Lord Jesus who raised me up! He gave me hope and an extraordinary life. Of course this took time. In 2017 and 2018 I worked part time as a nanny and kitchen hand and the other half of the time I tried to help others wherever they needed help. I also started to seek my vocation. I started to volunteer at church events in particularly supporting the School of Mission 2017 and 2018 run by the Institute for World Evangelisation – ICPE Mission, a Catholic association of the faithful, for use as a retreat and training centre for Catholic evangelist missionaries operated by a resident community. Here I would help the elderly shop, housekeep and accompanied them. That was really my passion. Through helping others I was helping myself. I found my life happier and balanced and I surrounded myself with laughter and true friendships. Support came from my church friends. At the same time in 2018, I got to know the St. Columban Mission Society during a retreat at New Year. They ran an accompanied program for 9 months to help me embark on my discernment to become a lay missionary. That was how I started experiencing cross-cultural living in Fiji and got to discover myself and others in unique ways.

After I came back from Fiji, I returned home to Malaysia to be reunited with my family for a month and went back to New Zealand to prepare myself for the move to Britain. There was time for transition because of Covid-19 and I had to wait for my VISA. During the 7 months of transition, I continued to volunteer in St. Gerard \’s Monastery (I was a resident there), Challenge 2000, and L\’Arche Community until I got my VISA approved.

Now, having arrived in Britain I am still at the orientation stage, continuing to explore and getting involved in different ministries. This is my first assignment in Britain and I shall be here for at least 3 years.