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October 2011

Walking, Praying, and Listening

Prayer Walks. How do you stay focused? You're walking along and there are a lot of distractions from loud music to half-naked people sitting in front of their apartments. What impact do you have anyway? You will only be there for less than an hour. You do not know anyone. Everyone you see is a stranger to your eyes. How much "gospel" do you share to the people you meet?

This morning, I was with a group of five ladies from the Higher Ground Church (NHGCC), a Filipino congregation here in Kaohsiung. We went to visit Newsong Church, a Chinese congregation located in San Min District of this city. I accompanied these ladies so we can do a "prayer walk" in the San Min Park. This is in preparation for our joint Christmas outdoor activity this December 17, 2011. I am very encouraged because Pastor Terry of Newsong Church has taken the initiative to organize this event with the intention that in the future their Chinese congregation will be able to reach out to the Filipino workers in its vicinity. Pastora Tessa of NHGCC has gladly approved this joint venture and sent these five ladies to "scout" the San Min Park and pray for God's leadership.

Before we went to the park, I shared to the five ladies the above questions. I also explained some of my answers to the dilemma posed by this set of questions. The bottom line is that one listens to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God will tell us when to pray and what to pray for. He will also tell us who are the people who need our prayers. So we walk and we pray. Most of all, we listen to the small still voice of the Holy Spirit.

"You are only there for a moment," I continued to share to the ladies. "Everyone is a stranger. You do not know them. But God knows these people. He knows their needs. You pray and ask God what should you pray for these people. You wait for the Holy Spirit to illumine your spirit so that you know with certainly what the needs are."

God knows them. He is already making plans to bring them to his love and receive his forgiveness and salvation. He does not need our prayers to make these plans come to reality. However, he desires for us to participate in his plans. He loves to tell us the needs of the people around us. He likes it when his children are petitioning him in behalf of the people who do not yet know him. We pray and we listen. We walk and look at people's faces with the eyes of God. Walk, pray, and listen to the Spirit of God.

FMWM Virtual Meeting

In about half an hour, Sarah and I will be in a Virtual FMWM Global Staff Meeting with all the missionaries around the globe, including of course the home office staff in Indianapolis,IN. This is the first time we are doing this. I am already logged on and I can hear Jason, our IT personnel, from our PC speakers. He is making sure all the tech stuff are working. This is the first time we are doing something like this. We are hoping that our FMWM missionaries could have a monthly meeting like this. It does make the world seem smaller.

More importantly, we are in the midst of a restructuring process. We will hear some new actions taken by our administrative personnel as well as new staff positions that will help our field workers, missionaries like us, be better in whatever ministries we are doing in our respective countries and areas. I am looking forward to hear what these changes are and anticipating God's surprises. This is God's work. I am grateful that God has included me as one of His under-shepherds of FMWM work. I am very privileged to be a part of this team.

I Like Mondays

I like Mondays like this one, yesterday. Phoebe, one of my students at the seminary came to me and shared how here time at a Presbyterian church last Saturday went very well. "I would like to do it again," she whispered to me right before the chapel service was going to start. She showed me a picture of her and the group of 20 young people. They were there to listen to Phoebe's sharing about her latest short-term mission trip to Korea. "I like doing this," she told me with beaming eyes and a face that could not hide her great excitement. How could you not like Mondays when you are inspired by stories like Phoebe's. 

In the afternoon, I went to my Theology of Mission class and gave a lecture on the "The Heart of God." I love the look in my students faces when God speaks to them. God's Word is truly powerful and transforming lives, even the lives of seminary students in their time of preparation for missionary service in the near future.

Joyce, one of my student (and Teaching Assistant) for this class, during our break time, shared to me about the latest development in one of her local church's outreach ministry in Chiku. The pastor for this outreach ministry had been diagnosed with an illness that hampers his work as a pastor. The pastor's wife and other leaders have stepped in and helped out in the ministry. "I told this story to one of my colleagues in the university, and she, together with her daughter, have volunteered to help out in the ministry there in Chiku," Joyce excitedly shared to me. I was close to tears listening to Joyce sharing this amazing story of how God is raising up His people to respond to a great need in the (local) mission "field." Joyce continued to tell me more stories about the commitment of the young people of Chiku local church. She recounted this one 15-year old girl who gained the respect of her Taoist parents. The parents were allowing her to come to the Christian church despite the differences in their religious faiths. I was amazed at how God is working in Chiku. How can you not get excited for Mondays like yesterday! I like Mondays.

God is speaking Chinese

A friend of mine posted on my Facebook page that their church prayed for us today (Sunday), praying for my Chinese language learning and that the message will get out loud and clear. I appreciate their prayers so much. However, what I really need is to hear God speak to me in Chinese.

These few months, I have been practicing praying in Chinese, talking to my God in Mandarin Chinese. It still does not feel natural for me. I have this tendency to switch my prayers to English. I know it will take time. But I have not yet come to that point where my heart and soul prays to God in Chinese. I am okay with English, Tagalog, or Cebuano. In fact, when my inner being is really groaning in prayer for something deep and unspeakable, I naturally speak in Cebuano and English. These are the two languages I consider to be my "home languages." I understand I need to reach that point in my language acquisition level where I feel natural in speaking Chinese to my God. Pray for me.

Sing a Song

‎Your music is good for all the peoples of the earth. What happens when your music loses its rhythm and beat. No one will be able to dance to it. It will become like noise and annoying sound. When this occurs, everyone will ignore you and not listen to you. They won't be able to dance with you. They will just walk away and go on in their own personal world.

You are a song for the world. No one sings a song just for personal enjoyment. Let your song be heard by everyone so that they will feel your heart and encounter your life and will give praise to the Almighty Lord, who is the Divine Creator of all songs.

My Difficulty With Language Learning

I am a very reflective person. This simply means that I do not go fast. I speak slow and I think deep. It is always my habit to pause and think hard about the things that I see and the words that I hear. However, when it comes to carrying a conversation, this becomes a disadvantage, if not a hindrance. 

I feel comfortable speaking Chinese in a monologue format. But when I am talking to students here at Holy Light Theological Seminary (HLTS), I have a hard time keeping up with the spontaneous and quick exchange of words. Having a dialogue with another person is hard work for me, much more when the conversation is in Chinese. When I pause and think about what I am going to say, many of the students here have this habit of interrupting me, interjecting their own words into the conversation. They do not seem to have the patience to wait for me to say the words. (I know this is not their intention.) They come and straight away provide the words they think I was going to say. Sometimes, they are right. But most often, they miss what I really want to say. By the time, I get back to my thoughts, the dialogue has moved on to another topic. 

Give and take dialogue is very difficult for me. And it does not help that my Chinese language acquisition level is in a very low level, probably a third grade level. It helps a little bit when the conversation stays on one topic that I know. It is during this time that I can carry a real conversation.

Please pray for me. Pray that my learning Mandarin Chinese will grow. Pray that I will have the humility to accept people (the seminary students) as they are. Some days I feel great and think that my Chinese is really improving. (Even the students say this.) But some days, like today, I feel that I am stuck in a deep valley. I do not seem go anywhere. When I open my mouth, I stutter. I cannot remember the simplest Chinese words. Please pray that God's grace will overflow in my life, in my student life, in my study of the Chinese language. Thank you for your intercession.

Never Ending Preparations

Change oil. Wheel Alignment. After the regular car inspection, my mechanic, says: "So how many doctors are you bringing to Country MM?" This is not exactly a question about car repairs. You see, my mechanic is the missions coordinator for Juiguang Free Methodist Church (JFMC). We are switching gears here. We are currently planning a medical mission trip to the northern parts of Country MM among the Chin people of this Southeast Asian country. "I will try to bring two doctors from the Philippines, one nurse from the USA, and two other nurses from here in Taiwan. I have already given the invitation to them."

Today, I share with Dr. Lee, the General Director for CMO, and we are planning to go to Country  MC for a missions exposure trip this February 2012. We are thinking of visiting Chinese university students who are followers of the Koranbook. "Can I invite my husband to join us for this mission trip?" Jass, one of the MDiv students here at the seminary asks me this question. We are not bringing a big group. Because Country MC is a restricted country, traveling in big numbers will raise suspicion and create unnecessary risk to the whole trip. We must execute our plans in a low key manner.

Later in the afternoon, I had another meeting with two Taiwanese pastors. Pastor Terry is pastoring a small Chinese Baptist church. Pastor Tessa is pastoring a Filipino independent church. They both express their desire to meet together and share to their members the cross-cultural mission opportunities right here at our doorsteps in this city of Kaohsiung. "We do not need to go outside the country," Terry passionately interjects his view. I am helping the two of them prepare for a joint Christmas celebration sometime this coming December.

Too many preparations and plans. They never end. But this is God's work. Our Mighty Lord will be the one who will give fruition to all these plans. It is His work. I am merely submitting myself to Him. Each step I take, God is already there before me.