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April 2015

Yuenan (Country V) In Our Minds

"Let us plan to visit Yuenan next year."

Two pastors behind me are talking to each other. I cannot help but overhear their dialogue. They are discussing some ministry plans. My ears perk up. Anything about Free Methodist work in Asia grabs my attention. I lean back and try to listen some more to the conversation.

Timothy and Khoa are deep into their exchange that they did not notice me eaves dropping in their discussion. We are in the middle of our Annual Conference sessions. At the moment, we are on a break. Timothy, the conference (CFMC) Missions Director for Taiwan, is suggesting some dates for a mission trip to Khoa, who is currently a VISA missionary from Ohio located here in Taiwan. Both men are excited with the prospect that they will help Taiwanese Free Methodists understand better the FM work in Yuenan. I get excited as well with the idea that missions work in Taiwan will become more cross cultural and engaging people of different races. I turn my head to join in the discussion. But, alas, the bell rings signaling the resumption of the business sessions. I will have to wait for another day.

In the past, Taiwan leaders have focused their assistance to Myanmar. Now that Myanmar graduated to become a Provisional Annual Conference, it is now under the supervision of the General Conference of North America (USA). Taiwan now has to move along, to find "green pastures," to look for another area where they can help FM work and provide encouragement to the national leaders. Enter Khoa from Ohio. Khoa is an Asian American and has deep roots in Yuenan. This coming new conference year, Taiwan is choosing this country as its missions project. Plans will be made. Money will be raised. Participants will be recruited. And God will lead us all the way. This country is on our minds, mainly because Yuenan is in God's heart.

Women Are Great Keepers Of The Truth: An Easter Reflection

On the first of day of the resurrection, Jesus first appeared to women, or more specifically to Mary Madalene (cf. John 20:18; Matthew 28:9; and Mark 16:9). Why women? What is so special about the women folk? 

Women are excellent vessels of spiritual truth. They have the capacity to reflect inner spiritual reality in its full grandeur. If we go back to all the biblical narrative of the first Easter Sunday, after Jesus appears to them, the women were told to go and to tell their brothers. They were encouraged to go and be ambassadors of the resurrection story. Women are great repositories of life, and thus passionate gate keepers of the gospel.

Allow me to bring this Easter reflection home by sharing Lanie's story. Lanie is one of the Filipino women we help here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Sarah (my wife) and I, through the ministry of Set Free Movement USA, are partnering with a local Set Free version called Freedom Group (FG). It is being led by Aying and Tessa. They minister to international families and are currently helping Filipino women like Lanie, who are married to Taiwanese husbands. Below is an excerpt of Aying's interview-report of Lanie' story.

(Lanie's Story) Her dreams of having a good life did not happen. She was unfairly treated by her own husband and his family. His husband never really stood by her, always siding with his own family and they all treated her as if she was their house help. She needs to take care of her two children and at the same time she took care of her in-laws and the daily burdens of household chores she need to managed daily and endure. There was even a time when she confronted her husband’s older brother for beating her own child only to be responded with a heavy blow of a wooden chair pounded right into her left hand. Bloodied and wounded, nobody came to her rescue. No one called for ambulance, nor anyone rushed her to see a doctor though they ended up in a police station, no case was filed. Her mother in law just plainly told her she should not file a case against her brother in law to which her husband also agreed.  Alone and helpless and not wanting to make a big deal out of it because clearly there was no one sympathizing with her, she politely obliged. Despite being physically hurt, she received no comfort from no one.

“I did it for my children, I have to be strong.” This is the very reason she chose to stay and to be with her somewhat misguided husband until now. She also thinks many times about the prospect of going back to the Philippines, but it seems to her that the future there is bleaker than where she is right now. She just have to get used to all the challenges in her daily life, her uncaring husband. After all they already live separately from her in-laws four years ago. But what surprised us most about Lanie is the fact that she was the reason behind her husband’s coming to our church services. Even without her, because of her work schedules, her husband and two children would still come to church by themselves. (Reported by: Aying Senining Wu, Field Worker for Freedom Group)

The Bible reminds us that unbelieving husbands are sanctified through the faith of their believing wives (1 Corinthians 7:14). These husbands are convinced of the power of the resurrection because they see it in the passion and conduct of their loving wives (1 Peter 3:1). Women folks are special. They are the perfect ambassadors of God's grace and truth in the midst of this broken and beautiful world we live in.