Out of the Overflow (Part 1)

How can I do justice to all that God has and is accomplishing in His global kingdom purposes through my life?  I’ve struggled with how to convey my thoughts.  So I will just share the story as it comes to my mind, and pray that you will be blessed and your heart will see the same call to obedience on your life.  May we all live lives of faith evidenced by our good works in making disciples of all nations.

I opted to go ahead of my church’s team, an extra 10 days, for two specific purposes.  One, I wanted to experience life on the field just as it is day-to-day.  Two, I wanted to engage specific conversations with our missionaries (this is the one time I will use the word, but I do not prefer it; I’ll use the word ‘worker’) on the field about their lifetime calling.  The time was not wasted.  I was privileged to be invited to stay with one family (who I’ll use just initials R & J for their safety) and experience their life.  We had several good talks along the way.  Life on the field is not some super-Christian feat.  I’m not sure what I had in my mind about what life is like, but it wasn’t quite the picture I had.  My mind had fixated on workers just constantly and exhaustively trying to reach people and teach the gospel, and if they didn’t make some quota of believers, they’d be sent home.

Talk about not being what we expect. This is our base camp city, filled with high-rise housing towers, most of which sit empty.
Talk about not being what we expect. This is our base camp city, filled with high-rise housing towers, most of which sit empty.

Here’s the wonderful truth.  Their life is no different from ours except for their location.  They live life, just like I do in Little Rock, AR.  They run errands, do laundry, go to Walmart.  One worker said his typical week looks like going out into the community in the morning with his older kids and meeting people, building relationships, and bridging the gospel.  In the afternoon he studies language and/or the Bible.  In the evening, it’s family time.  Others are there working jobs, usually teaching English.  Just taking what they could be doing here and moving it over there.  My weekly life involves going out into the community (via work), I have time set aside for study.  I am involved in intentional reaching ministries.  They have an event called English Corner, where they invite nationals to come practice their conversational English.  We have an outstanding organization right here that does the same!  We can call obedience to Christ “radical”, but here’s the truth:  it’s just the ordinary Christian life that we are meant to be living.  Oh for the day when this is not considered radical!

Going out into the community.  This is a wet market, where you can find freshly butchered meat of several kinds (pork pictured)...
Going out into the community. This is a wet market, where you can find freshly butchered meat of several kinds (pork pictured)…
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…and fresh fruits and vegetables of routine and exotic kinds.

They follow the command “as you go”, making disciples.  We’re called to do nothing different where we are.  What saddens me is the difference in importance we place this command.  Our busyness and pursuits blind us in ineffectiveness.  The American Dream is landing us right where Satan wants us, complacent in our comforts.  Global disciple-makers are not super-Christians, they just take the command to make disciples seriously because God takes it seriously.  Life is intentional.  I was particularly struck by R’s thoughts on retirement.  I’ve been conditioned to think I need to set myself up for comfort in the end of my life, when maybe God still has purposes for us.  It’s not time to pass the torch until we leave this life.  Am I pouring too much into myself (my future) right now when it is better served in the kingdom, with the express intent to continue work as long as the Lord wills it? Am I more concerned with my 401k more than making disciples?  It’s worth prayer and unbiased biblical insight in the very least.

Another aspect of their life that really struck me was having family worship time.  I’ve come home extremely convicted about this.  Every morning at the breakfast table, R would read a short study, sing a song together, describe an unreached people to pray for, and then offer God thanks for their many blessings.  If only we would be doing this in the American homes where we are not, what might happen for the kingdom’s expansion and God’s glory across the earth?  Rather than relying on the church to be responsible for the spiritual growth of children, parents take ownership of it and start the command of making disciples in their own homes.  It’s not complicated and doesn’t need to be.  What they did was simple and sets the tone for their family’s day and indeed, life.

I have a lot of fears when it comes to considering moving overseas, as I’m sure just about anyone would have.  But I have done my best to give a blank check to God.  I went with an open heart for God to confirm that is the path He has set me on.  But as we (meaning God and me, and R and me) talked, my passions kept steering me differently.  Yes I absolutely want to support efforts to the unreached.  My heart is unequivocally pointed to the places that have no access to the gospel.  I am also very passionate about equipping and motivating my brothers and sisters in Christ to this same calling.  You don’t have to read my blog long or hear me speak at length to know that.  I want to pour into Christ followers what God has poured into me.  To call us out of our comforts and complacency, with a sense of urgency and humility.

Having gone to China expecting to be led to stay there, I find myself affirmed to continue the path of sending for now.  Not saying one day I won’t go, but for now, I confidently believe I’m called to be here, supporting and sending through motivation and move into leading short-term teams.  So those of you afraid I might be moving, take a deep breath.  And if you’re disappointed I’m sticking around (ha), well, maybe in due time.

The plaza where the government set up the eyeglass clinic.
The plaza where we conducted the eyeglass clinic.
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We saw almost a thousand people. The goal was to improve vision, not necessarily get the perfect lenses. Though we were not permitted to share the gospel at this event, a team went back later to take with the locals.
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There was a registration area, a waiting area, seven stations checking eyes, and the dispensary. The crowd surged on registration at one point and the Americans were pulled out. But the dispensary was all smiles as folks left with better sight!
Caroling before a crowd in the shopping plaza.  We'd sing a couple songs then disperse to meet the crowd, then do it again.
Caroling before a crowd in the shopping plaza. We’d sing a couple songs then disperse to meet the crowd, then sing some more!

I can relate briefly some specific events that occurred during this time.  I’ll focus on an eye glass clinic we did in a town a couple hours away from base camp.  Through a partnership with the government and a worker’s company, we served over 960 people with prescription eyeglasses.  The event was purposed in giving face to the government with the people; and it also makes  the workers gain legitimacy in staying in the country.  For a short time, I actually tested eyes with a rudimentary lens system, but most of the day I got to work the dispensary where glasses were handed out.  As mobbed as we were, and as pushy and impatient as the massive crowd was, I was in the best place because I got to see the smiles and receive the “shie shie” (thank you, in Mandarin) as they were able to read or see at distance.  I had a great sense of spiritual purpose here.  Talk about “blind but now I see”.  Perhaps this was literally true that day, but what an avenue to bridge to the gospel when a team returned a few days later to engage the town people again!

The other CIC team I traveled with had several events, including a Christmas program out front of a major shopping complex where they performed a skit of the true Christmas story, visiting college campuses, and going caroling.  I helped carol a little bit.  I was overwhelmed in that place by the words of songs that we are all too familiar with and easily grow quite tired of each year.  “To save us all from Satan’s power when we have gone astray” becomes very real in a place of complete spiritual darkness.  Through watery eyes, I prayed as I sang that Satan’s power would soon find it’s hold shattered in this place, where hundreds of thousands of people live and will perish into everlasting darkness unless they are told of and receive the good news of Jesus Christ.

More to come soon…  If you haven’t, scroll up to the top and look on the right for a place to enter your email to subscribe.

Out of the Overflow (Part 1)

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