Deuteronomy 4 says “…watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
January 20, 2010: Coming home from Hong Kong
I’m sitting right now overlooking the road coming into O’Hare Airport from the terminal waiting area at Gate B22. Our flight to Dayton was rescheduled because we missed the 1PM departure but we were thankful for the extra time and the suspended pressure. I just had a Starbucks cappuccino and a double shot of Jamba Juice wheatgrass but I still feel like I’m in a hazy, sluggish limbo. My limbs and eyelids feel much heavier than normal as if the pull of gravity increased proportionally to the loss of hours.
When we landed on the runway in Chicago I felt like standing and singing America the Beautiful but when we entered the airport, I felt just as much like a foreigner as I did anywhere in Asia. I didn’t hear any true English spoken by anyone and there were more blacks and Hispanics employed in airport security and immigration than there were people who looked at all like me. Airport employees were loud, large, and pushy – the antithesis of every Asian in airports I’ve been in over the past 2 months. It’s amazing to feel like a foreigner in one’s own country. The more countries I visit, spending time with the people and learning their cultures, the less I feel like I belong or fit in the United States or any other country. The blessings of our country have been unparalleled and I would never choose another place to call home but the feelings of belonging here are gone. I also realize we’re not supposed to feel like we fit. It’s a poignant reminder that this is not my home.
Over the past two months:
I witnessed over 20,000 people come to faith in Jesus Christ and worshiped in house churches suppressed by government regulation.
My family sang about Jesus Christ in a country that has not allowed a single foreigner (even in a SECULAR venue) to share in public since the 1950s; what’s even more amazing is that it wasn’t just a small group but a group of 45,000 people!
I personally prayed with Malaysians, Thai, Indonesians, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Australians, British, Chinese, and Indians.
I rang in 2010 singing familiar praise and worship songs in 8 or 9 different languages, sharing communion, and eating foods from all over the world.
My family and I stood on top of Victoria’s Peak with friends on New Year’s Day and prayed over Hong Kong as a gateway city and port of China.
I stood at the door of a church three days after it and 7 other churches were bombed by Islamic terrorists in Kuala Lumpur and my family and friends prayed for God to bring revival to Malaysia (We didn’t even know we were GOING to Malaysia until a week before!).
I did ministry with my family in a Muslim nation for the first time ever and prayed with precious people at the altar.
I ate in people’s homes, went to their favorite hang outs, slept in too many different beds to count for too few hours, played games, teased, sang, danced, and felt the peace and presence of God in places of heavy spiritual battle and intense persecution.
The most incredible part of it all… none of these things happened because of me or my family or our gifts or our connections. Had we found the best promoter on the planet, we could not have humanly organized the connections and events that took place so quickly. It was nothing but the grace and favor of God! I get teary and overwhelmed thinking about it, especially if I look back over the past 12 months.
2009 was a hard year. I realized in so many ways how one blind or selfish choice could change my life forever and remove capacity for ministry or powerful destiny. With how many times I’ve questioned God and his direction for my life, I don’t deserve for him to bless me… I even questioned continued involvement with my family in this ministry this past year. However, I do recognize that I HAVE TO be faithful and look for God’s best even if it’s not an idea I came up with for myself. Praise God for his faithfulness to us even when we don’t deserve it.
All that being said, the past two months obviously had nothing do with us but God uses very flawed, dedicated soldiers. You just do what you have to do. What good are gifts if you hold onto them or selfishly use them to further your own ambitions? God disciplines you mind, body, and spirit and then commissions you into active service. I think this is what God is calling for when he says we have to die; Dying to oneself is choosing something you don’t want and didn’t ask for and finding that the sacrifice doesn’t even compare to the reward.
What an amazing God we serve. Without his direction my aims are pointless. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to see people love and serve him.