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July 2010

People Talking

Most of the people talked. I listened. There were three pastors who shared about the growth of their churches. I took down notes. At the conclusion of the day, everyone split up into four groups to discuss the merits of the three presentations. I absorbed everything.

Yesterday was a pastors' meeting of the Taiwan Free Methodist Church Annual Conference. We centered our discussions on the topic of church planting and reaching our goals for 2015. I wished we had more time to really grapple with the issues of growth and multiplication in our local churches, or what we hope to have in our churches in Taiwan. One day was not enough.

At one of the coffee breaks (or tea break), one pastor approached me and asked me if I could come to his church and visit the young people who are meeting on Saturdays. He wanted me to share about missions. I gladly accepted the invitation. I just wished more of pastors would take the initiative and invite us so we can come and challenge everyone to missions work. One day is not enough for discussion, but it can be an open door. It can be a good opportunity to challenge everyone about the primary goal of the church--to go out there and share the love of God to every weary soul and longing heart.

I hope people will stop talking and start going out into the world to be ambassadors for the Almighty God.

Came Home Thinking

I just came back to Kaohsiung last night. Our whole family went to Chiku, about 1 1/2 hours away up north. I saw some of my former students at Long Shan Elementary School. Nope! I did not teach there. I was there four years ago for a Summer English Camp with the children of this school. The Feng Shan Free Methodist Church (FSFMC) sends a group of volunteers twice a year and stay there in Chiku for 4-5 days. That time I was one of the English teachers. My group of students were 11 year old kids. Yesterday, I saw two of them, and one of them offered me a cigarette. I politely refused him. He must think it is cool to smoke a cigarette. I talked to him and reminisced about the past. He had a good memory. He remembered everything. The other 16 year-old forgot about me. Maybe, he was just too shy to recollect all the details. It was probably easier to say "I do not remember."

I came back to Kaohsiung with a heavy heart. Most of these Chiku children do not go to church. Almost all come from broken families. The challenge is great. These two times we go there are probably the only times they hear the story about Jesus. Will they also say, "I do not remember?" I do not care if they do not remember me. I just hope that they remember Jesus and his love for them. I pray that they will remember Jesus heals broken lives.

A Trip to JongLi

We came to JongLi last July 14, 2010. A group of students, faculty and staff of the Holy Light Theological Seminary (HLTS) went to JongLi University, about 5 hours away from Kaohsiung, to promote the seminary at a Youth Mission Convetion at this university. This was my first time to join such activity. I did not have any expectations. I came with an open mind. I was so relaxed, I even forgot to bring my tooth paste and my towel. Oh well, I made ado. We stayed at the dormitory of Sheng De Christian College. Many seminaries, mission agencies, and ministry groups were present at this convention. College students from all over Taiwan came to participate and see what these Christian groups would offer them. We were on the fourth floor. We tried many different "gimmicks," ways to entice the college students to come in to our room and view our displays. I even tried singing at the court yard. I brought my guitar and did a solo blues improvised number. Made a "fool" of myself, but I figured, if a guitar solo could bring one college student to come to our room and seriously consider HLTS as a school for one's future, then it is all worth it. Some of the Holy Light students went around the whole building wearing funny Mickey Mouse look-alike, just to get the visitors to go to the fourth floor and visit our display. There were quite a few who stayed and really talked to us. Dr. Lois Fang manned the booth for the serious Q&A time. We were there for two days, July 15 and 16, 2010. It was a blast. Everyone was tired after these rigorous three days. They were very fruitful three days. The important thing was that God was there. He visited.

Family Time

Today is my birthday. This morning, I woke up to my children singing a birthday song. Jacob went to school, but Carmen stayed behind since she is off school for her summer vacation. (Jacob's school is a Chinese kindergarten, and they have a different school calendar.) The three of us went to TGIF for lunch. Later this evening, Sarah and the two kids "surprised" me with a gluten-free banana cake. I blew the candle and was glad the whole family is here with me, . . . together and enjoying each others' company.

A year ago, on my birthday, we were all in a van, driving in Michigan on Highway 131, on our way to Manton Family Camp. I had my Blackberry and Acer Netbook, and was checking my emails and Facebook greetings from friends and families from all over the world. Next year, I will be in upstate New York, to participate in the No. America General Conference 2011. This conference on July 13-17, 2011, happens every four years. I will probably still be stuck with my laptop, talking to my family here in Kaohsiung through Skype and using my webcam. This will be next year. I will worry about it when I come to it. Today, however, is my birthday. I am grateful for God's gift of love and family.

Moments of Unworthiness

"I do not deserve all these gifts. I feel so unworthy. All these show of support and generous financial contributions make me think hard about my own spiritual life." Sam, a student at the seminary, is sharing to me his experiences. He feels humbled that many people are sending their money and contributions for his upcoming Short-Term Missions trip next month. I simply reply, "The Lord is bringing you to greater heights. He is preparing you for His work."

Let us think of Isaiah. When he was confronted with God's holiness, he responded, "Woe is me for I am a sinner." (see Isaiah 6:5) Nehemiah, after hearing of the news of the wall, said, "We have sinned." (Nehemiah 1:6) There are many more examples of people from the Bible who, when confronted with God's presence, saw themselves in their true form, the form compared to God's holiness and glory, . . . that we are all sinners.

Just like my friend Sam, many missionaries, including myself, experience God's presence, when we received the news of our supporter's prayers, generosity, and financial gifts. This month, aside from helping seminary students prepare for their various Summer Short-Term Missions trip, I am also preparing for an eight-day mission trip to the Philippines, to visit a children's ministry somewhere in Butuan City. God is giving me His peace. As I go through the details of purchasing airline tickets, orienting the team members, emailing pastors who will help us in the Philippines, and the like, I sense God's leadership. Our prayer supporters and financial contributors are a great encouragement to us. God is preparing us. He will lead the way.