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February 2010

Asian Stories That Inspire

I am here in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with other Asian missionaries for a much needed retreat and fellowship. Other Asian leaders are here for consultation and mutual encouragement. One pastor from a Creative Access Country tells me his story and close encounter with the local authorities. He says, when he was leading a worship service, the police came to stop the meeting. He invited them (the group of policemen) to join the service and witness for themselves what the Christians are doing. Pastor Carl, not his real name, narrates, "The police eventually left. After this incident, members from two families who in the past were not serious about their Christian faith, approached me and expressed their desire to serve God fully." Pastor Carl states that it was that courageous encounter with the authorities that made them think hard about their Christian faith.

In another instance, Pastor Jay (a pseudonym) recounts to me his recent visit to another Creative Access Country. He says that one local church is praying for a brother who is in his final preparations to become a medical doctor. The church members want this person to be their missionary, to go to another province where the dominant religion is Islam. It will take a long time to fulfill this plan but Pastor Jay says this medical student and the church members are willing to wait and invest in this future missions work.

I am also getting acquainted with a North American pastor who is here in Asia working in another (a third) Creative Access Country. He is originally from this country and officially working as a cross-cultural worker visiting new Christians and planting new churches across the country side. He expresses to me that it will most probably be years before any kind of harvest is seen much less any form of government recognition will happen. I sense, however, his strong determination to keep working and wait on the Lord to bring in the harvest.

It is hard work. It takes a lot of determination. But God is the Lord of the Harvest, and He is and will bring in more harvesters to the field. A Pastor from Malaysia says to another pastor from a Creative Access Country (the fourth restricted country FMWM is in): "I have a friend who owns a property in your capital city, and he wants to donate this for Christian work." We all smile. God is bringing in the harvest.

A Great First Week

It is 4:00 AM. I cannot get back to sleep. Must have been the excitement of the last few days. I am glad the whole family is relaxed and sound asleep. It is a blessing to have Sarah and my two children finally getting adjusted to life back here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. That is one less thing to worry about. Jacob has been responding to the allergy medicines. He is sleeping soundly. Last time I checked his room, he had pulled down the covers--meanwhile his sister is all bundled up. They are total opposites when it comes to their sleeping habits. Jacob could probably survive living in an igloo in minus degree temperature. One warm-blooded all American boy!

Yesterday was my first day in teaching at Holy Light Theological Seminary. It went well. I had three more students added to the class. My translator did an excellent job! I just realized how much I miss classroom teaching. I have almost forgotten how good it feels. This is another affirmation of God's leadership in my life. Praise God! Thank you all for praying for us.

Yesterday was a historic day for the seminary. We had nine students graduating with M.Div and B.Th. degrees, all coming from a neighboring Creative Access Country. They all came with their friends, a few relatives, and the pastors and supervisors of their extension seminary. (Holy Light partners with a local institution from that area.) I was taking pictures of all the celebration and just realized how historic this occasion would be. People will remember this for the next fifty years or more.

Later, after the ceremony, I talked to one of the graduating students. He shared about his work in this Asian province and expressed to me the need for training more cross cultural workers to go out to other areas of the province. I got so excited. I tried to listen to him and gather as much information as I could. I told him we will be talking about this in Taiwan and find out ways of helping other Chinese leaders become better equipped for Christian missions work. While I was listening to him, I was also trying to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to me through this Chinese graduate student. I have to be honest now: I did not fully understand what God said. I knew it was something about missions training, but as to where and when, I do not know--not yet. I am still in the process of deciphering God's disclosure to me through that Chinese student. It will be slow, but I will wait on the Lord. He will be my Guide.

I Woke up this Morning

I woke up this morning with a new sense of hope and joyful anticipation of this day. My devotions reminded me that God will take care of the rest, whether He is painfully purifying me or wonderfully showing me a new dimension of His grace. He is faithful, forever!

Homecoming of sorts

I am here at my office at Holy Light Theological Seminary. Slowly settling in. For those who do not know, I am the newest faculty member here in the seminary. Everyone here is so generous trying to show me around and giving pointers on the world of seminary teaching. I am grateful.

I just moved in all of my Asbury books. I still need to add a few more book shelves. I need to get a few more furnitures so this office feels more homely and inviting not only for me, but for visiting students as well. Just a minute ago, I talked to two students and already we are talking about short-term missions trips and ways to be more active in serving God through the area of cross-cultural ministries. I am very encouraged. I was just telling Becca, my FMWM colleague who also teaches here, that being here in seminary feels like homecoming. It is a good sign. God is answering many prayers. Thank you for your prayers.