I love my Taylor Guitar. Recently, I bought a 214ce model and I adore the music that comes out of this beauty. During my morning devotions, I would play on it, pluck a tune here and there, recollect some of the old choruses that I know, and just enjoy a beautiful song that emerges out of my fingertips. It is easy to find inspiration when my Taylor Guitar is kissing my cheeks and caressing my arms. You get the picture, right?
I am here in the USA for our regular time of Partnership Building. We come from where ever mission field we are stationed (in our case, Taiwan) and visit our supporters, and tell them about the work in the field. In addition to this time of reporting, we also ask people for money. We encourage them to give to missions, especially to give to our account and support the work we are doing. And most of the times, these moments of asking for money can be tiresome. I would rather talk about God’s work in the lives of Phoebe, Sean, Sam, and Jiadzwou. It is easy for me to be inspired when I tell these stories of God’s transformation in the lives of my friends in Taiwan. But when I talk about money, I get stuck. It is hard to draw inspiration.
However, God is constantly reminding me that this is His work. I am simply one of his many workers. Money is only an incidental element of missionary work. The bigger picture is always the building of God’s kingdom and the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people we meet. In the following narration, let me share with you our visits to a few local churches here in Michigan and through these visits tell you how God is humbling me so that I can draw inspiration from Him and Him alone.
Two Sundays back, we visited Evart Free Methodist Church. We shared about our missionary work in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, during its morning service. After this Sunday morning meeting, we all went to the fellowship hall for a potluck lunch and some lawn games outside. Everyone was doing something. I was playing Horseshoes with Gerry and Wade. As we were playing, Wade and I got to talking about his family, his 10-acre home, and his solitary life. He expressed his sadness with his current disconnect with his family members scattered around the country. In my mind, I thought about asking him to take a step of faith and sell all his belongings and give the proceeds from this sale to the cause of missionary work, and then to follow God with all his life. But I did not. I listened to his life story. And after the horseshoe game, I encouraged him to come back to church and visit with the members of Evart FMC.
That evening, we went to Mesick Free Methodist Church, in Mesick, MI, about an hour away from Evart, MI. Sarah shared to the children. Carmen told her stories about Morrison Academy of Kaohsiung (MAK). I gave my sermon about “The Lord of the Harvest is Here,” and challenged my friends to be more involved in cross cultural missions work. Afterwards, there was a time for fellowship, food, and Q&A. We all had a great time. Towards the end, the pastor asked everyone to pray for one of the church members who are experiencing a rough marriage. We prayer together with our hands extended towards our sister asking God for deliverance. I prayed in my heart that, like the Samaritan woman in John chapter four, God will use her to be a strong witness for Jesus in the midst of her difficulties.
Tuesday, my family went to visit Pastor Arlan and his friend Pastor Dar. Sarah and the kids went outside with Mary, Arlan’s wife, for a time of horseback riding. I stayed with the two pastors and together with Dar’s wife, Linda, we talked about Dar’s present ministry among the people involved in the Horse Race industry. Arlan is a chaplain ministering to horse jockeys, trainers, race track workers, and other persons located in one of the many race tracks here in Michigan. I interviewed Dar and listened to his life story. Dar is very similar to Philip, who is reaching out to people on the fringes, to people like the Ethiopian Eunuch in the Book of Acts. We need more people like Dar.
Wednesday, we went to Lansing, MI and see our friends, the Cromwell family. Pastor Bruce and Pastor Mindi gave us a short tour of Lansing Central Free Methodist Church (LCFMC). It was encouraging to hear their many different stories of God’s transformation in the communities surrounding the church building. This FM congregation is ministering to Nepali/Bhutan people, Free Methodists from Burundi (Africa), refugees from Haiti, migrant workers from many different lands. Isn’t this a picture of heaven? This is the picture of many people coming from many tribes and speaking many different languages, all together worshiping the God of all creation. Amen!
The following day, we went to SCAMP camp, a 4-day camp for senior citizens sponsored by the No. MI Conference. I shared about “Memories” and their role in eternity. Later, one of the participants came to us and shared her life story. We listened. I felt like one of the Maries (or ladies) sitting at the foot of Jesus, listening to God’s story unfolding before my eyes. Saturday, Carmen and I went to a party hosted by Jim and Linda, from the Stanwood FMC. People shared. People cried. People testified of God’s love glorified. (Hey! That rhymes.) I felt like one of those little children peering between the legs of the adults huddled around Jesus, while our Lord is giving one of his sermons.
Last Sunday, we went to Zeeland FMC, at Zeeland, MI. We felt a deep connection with the members of this church. I was so encouraged to see photos of their recent baptism service a few weeks back. Later that evening, we went to Evergreen FMC, at Sheridan, MI. After my sharing and sermon about the harvest in Asia, we went to the fellowship hall for ice cream and chit chats. I heard someone mention that they had 95 children in attendance at their recent summer VBS. Whoa! I was blown away! God is moving in mysterious ways. He is bringing people here in Michigan for baptisms and drawing families to God’s kingdom through simple things like VBS. The harvest is here!
I am inspired! God Himself is bringing in the fruits of the harvest. He is in control. The money will come. He will provide. I need to focus on Him, the Lord of the harvest. And when I do that, then I will see His harvest happening right before my eyes. I will pray for more workers to his harvest here in Michigan.
Later today, we will go to a social event with Pastor Scott and his family, with Roland and Shirley, and with other friends from the Big Rapids FMC. I won’t be able to bring my Taylor Guitar. I won’t have any opportunity to sing worship songs and make music to my God. However, I have my eyes and ears, and I can listen to people. I can watch what God is doing here in Michigan. We will eat ice cream. We will play ball games. We will walk around the grounds of Ferris State University and enjoy this day of fellowship. Meanwhile, I will be inspired. Regardless of who I am with, where I am, or what I am bringing with me, I will draw my inspiration from God alone. He is my Rock and my Refuge. He is my inspiration.