Parakaleo—Gospel Dynamics to Coach Our own Hearts
Our minds and hearts are gospel sieves!
That statement from Darlene, our Parakaleo trainer, was an eye opener. I often struggled with the dichotomy between my beliefs and my experiences. My own actions and reactions in my daily life often gave me a sense of guilt and left me questioning the maturity and sincerity of my faith. I tried harder, I prayed, but the changes were slow with a rollercoaster pattern of highs and lows. Being a ministry leader with self-raised expectations made it even more lamentable.
In 2018, I was invited to be part of the Parakaleo ministry with a small group of women from various churches in the Klang Valley. Parakaleo is a ministry that creates a safe relational space for women to embrace and apply precepts of the gospel to normalise the confusing and often painful experiences of ministry. It is a community that invites women to develop a deep trust in the Grace of God, to harness the freedom that Jesus provides through the gospel and enables transformation through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
As I began to understand my story within God’s story, I realised that though my concerns and battles took various forms, they arose from one major misconception and neglect. I was often forgetting the resulting significance of the gospel or suffering from the inability to inject the truths of God’s Redemption plan into my heart in many situations. I was working towards realising my identity in Christ instead of resting in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Through a better understanding of the biblical narrative of creation, fall, redemption and restoration, I could face my issues with assurance of my Father’s eternal love. It was God’s gracious answer to my prayers.
I also discovered how dissenting voices of the past and my skewed perspectives were obscuring the reality of my true position before my Heavenly Father. A deeper awareness of God’s holiness and my own sinfulness revealed more and more the amazing grace and love of God, my utter dependence on Jesus and the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. As my awe and indebtedness for Jesus grew, I became grace and gift driven rather than guilt driven. The ordinary objects and visual aids that were used were easy ways to help me overcome my gospel amnesia. A little boot hanging from a keychain was a reminder of Ephesians 6:15 to be well shod with a readiness given by the gospel of peace I have with God. In Parakaleo we call these objects and visuals Gospel Tools. With time I gained deeper insight on ways to coach my heart, shape my ministry and most of all, to live out God’s purpose in my life through wonder and hope.
In 2020, when I was devastated by the sudden loss of my husband, this profound understanding of God’s sovereignty and presence in my journey was my rescue and my comfort. As I had attended the Basic Intensive course in Bangkok in early 2020, I could join further Parakaleo courses online during the COVID shutdown. In my weak and broken state, it was reassuring to learn alongside women who cared and accepted me without expectations. I learned new ways to apply the gospel to my broken heart through the course on Implementing Basic. Though the change in my situation and major role as a wife was still painful, I could find immense comfort in my never changing identity in Christ.