According to His Purpose - Missionary Story of Leo Mak
Leo and Amy Mak immigrated to the Vancouver area from Hong Kong with their son in 1993. They were not believers before they came to Canada but came to Christ after attending a church in Richmond. Soon after, Amy and their son Alan got involved in the Awana program at the church.
Leo wasn’t as quick to get involved with Awana but after some interesting circumstances and clear direction from God, he agreed to volunteer with his family.
Leo, affectionately known as “Uncle Leo”, served for four years as a leader for T&T, then proceeded to serve as Director for another four years and eventually became Commander and served for another four years. Leo remarked that he was so thankful for his predecessors who left everything so organized and prepared for him to step in. He also had great mentors and a fantastic team surrounding and encouraging him. Slowly but steadily over those twelve years God continued to grow him in knowledge and understanding Himself and of the Awana programs and to call him to the next step.
In 2012, only a month after Leo retired from his job, Jon Imbeau approached him and Amy with the opportunity to become Awana missionaries. The couple had been praying and seeking God’s guidance for their retirement and the call seemed very clear. So it was that “Uncle Leo” and Amy began a new adventure with Awana. They fill an important role serving the Chinese churches of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and partner with Alistair Turkington to reach the rest of BC as well.
Working with the Chinese churches is a challenge and a blessing. Leo is able to connect with these churches because he understands their cultural backgrounds and language.
For Leo, Awana is priceless. He sees three E’s that you can’t get in the same way anywhere else – and they aren’t just about children!
“You need all three elements together in order to have a good program.” Education is for the kids, evangelism is for the community, and equipping is for the leaders. Leo is confident in the Awana curriculum. “All questions have answers from the Scriptures,” Leo says, and Awana teaches those answers. The clubs also serve as a key evangelistic outreach for the community as clubbers are encouraged and emboldened to bring at least two visitors every year. As for equipping leaders, Leo values the way that Awana encourages kids to come back and serve; “Awana has a good system – these kids have been in Awana for years, they know how it works,” and therefore they make great leaders! They get to continue their growth not just as hearers of the Word, but doers.
More than just clubbers coming back, Leo loves to see families volunteering together. “Parents are the most important standard for kids. Don’t think that your kids can just go to Christian school and your family can go to church and it’s done. No. I think a parent’s influence on their kids as a role model is very important…kids are looking over your shoulder asking, ‘what are you doing?’”
“Awana is not just for kids,” he tells me again – it is for the whole church. Leo knows that when a pastor can grasp this mission, the church will follow. This is one of the basics of being a good leader, one needs to have a vision and a goal, and be able to lead others to follow that vision.
Leo keeps Romans 8:28 close to heart: “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). We have been called and we need to share the vision. “We need teamwork,” Leo explains, “and we need to have the same vision, or it would be chaos.” We have been called according to God’s purpose even though “no ministries are perfect; ministries are people, people are causes of chaos, people are troublemakers.” We need a unifying vision and we need to work together to see that vision through.
Leo looks forward to further growth as we seek to fulfill our vision. He is excited about the youth and energy of the younger generation and sees so much room for expansion. He has seen Awana grow and change over the years and he is passionate about this ministry that is so valuable for the whole church community. It is not just a children’s ministry, it is education, evangelism, and equipping for everyone involved, called according to His purpose.