I’m writing from a friend’s house in Pasadena, California (at 3 o’clock in the morning no less). I’ve been really busy here but I love California. The past few days have been precious reminders that differences shouldn’t separate people. Does this have anything to do with liberal all-inclusiveness, you ask? Sorry but no. I’m NOT talking about different beliefs here. I’m talking about differences in life experiences, culture, and gifts.
If we’re willing to be open toward people who don’t come from the same background and endure a little temporary discomfort, it’s amazing how many incredible resources we find in other believers of Jesus Christ. It’s that “different but united” partnership that made the most powerful impact on Vietnam this past year when my family got together with Vietnamese Christian leaders and saw 20,000 first time decisions for Jesus Christ at Christmas. If you want to see the pictures you’ll find them here. CBN also broadcast the events and posted them online here.
Following what we saw in December, even though it’s several months later, this trip to Cali is the after party. We’re hanging out with Vietnamese and Chinese friends until later this month. We even spoke and sang at a seminary convocation for a few Vietnamese friends today.
My family is the same in the United States as we are in Asian countries, we sing the same songs, share the same message, and our God is the same all-powerful, miracle-working God. Even still, only a few hundred or thousand show up for meetings in the United States, contrasted to the over 40,000+ that show up in Vietnam. After having spent so much time with native Asians, I can hardly imagine how Americans are missing so much. Asians are the ones casting vision; they’re the ones spreading the word like wildfire and inspiring other believers to get involved. It’s not because my family is full of somebodies or because we were good at networking and promoting (in fact, my family didn’t know a single Vietnamese soul until 9 months ago when my mom and I touched down in Saigon last August); it’s all because of that promise in II Chronicles 7 that says
“if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven…”
Note, God didn’t specify skin color or background in there. His people are a nationality all their own, set apart, without racial, socioeconomic, or even denominational lines (as human beings, we draw those, unfortunately).
It’s ironic how overwhelmed, uncomfortable, and totally happy a person can be all at once. There’s so much I don’t understand about the cultures I’m surrounded by and I feel like a blundering idiot most of the time but I enjoy being with the people. There’s so much love in the attempt to understand each other on both sides that the attempt is all that matters. Who cares about the differences in race, background, or language? It’s humbling. Especially in moments like this evening when an 11-year old Vietnamese girl named Christyna just held me and cried as she said, “I want to grow up to be just like you” or when a 21 year old guy named Luong told my dad he believed our family was “God’s gift to the Vietnamese people.”
If your life is iCentered, I hope you’ll consider how small a life that is. Your world becomes so much more full and exciting when your time, resources, gifts, and plans are given away just for the privilege of serving.
I’ll keep you posted from L.A. in a few days! Hope you have an amazing week.