For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,
you shall be saved;
and in trust
shall be your strength.
But you were unwilling, (Isaiah 30:15)
He who remains
in me, and I in him,
the same bears much fruit
from me you can do nothing
October 10, 2017 Learning in Canada, Back in Taiwan
Our 20th Wedding Anniversary -- hard to believe that 20 years have passed. God truly has filled our life with surprises.
Returning to Taiwan after a year’s absence, on the one hand, I feel a real excitement about what God is doing and preparing to do in Neili: at church (cell groups for evangelism), among university students (Bible class) and the teachers at Yuan Ze University (alpha course).
On the other hand, I feel like I am like a new Christian – for 56 years not really knowing God. As I write this letter to you, I am also writing to myself to remind myself of (1) what God has been teaching me during our family’s time in Canada and (2) how I have seen God working.
Four Lessons From Canada
(Lesson A) Remain, Rest, Quiet, Trust – God has been showing me that these are the prerequisites for meaning in life. Without remaining, I might be busy but I will not accomplish anything of kingdom significance. Remaining is like being in the eye of the hurricane/typhoon. It is safe and peaceful in the calm. Leaving the eye; however, subjects one to the full fury of the hurricane which destroys and mutilates. Far from the hurricane/typhoon, while I will not be subject to its full fury, I will also not know the peace of communion and joy of walking with my heavenly Father.
(Lesson 2) Watch to see what God is doing. Find out how God wants us to join him in his work, not God blessing our work. The focus must be God not Me. As I reflect on my own attitudes, and what I hear at church – testimonies which do not share God's complete work but tend to focus only on the part of the plot that brings glory also to us – I realize that I myself also tend to focus on myself rather than God. But what God is doing is really amazing and goes beyond what we can orchestrate. Example: M from China. Drawn by God to a (Presbyterian) church, who suggested she would enjoy an English Bible study at Harvest Bible Chapel. Attending God continued to draw her closer to Himself. God brought my wife, Sharon, to the same Bible class, they became friends and started a 1:1 Bible study (written by brothers at a church in Taiwan and taught to my wife at Neili Victory Church in Taiwan) that specifically addressed Chinese doubts. With doubts removed, God used another Chinese church to bring her into His family. Finally she was baptised at Harvest. God used influence from at least 6 local churches to bring this lady to himself! Cool!
(Lesson 3) My Cultural Blindness At Camp Cherith, I was introduced to the world’s into 3 main cultural groups: Guilt/Innocence (Europe), Honor/Shame (Jewish/Chinese) and Power/Fear (Aboriginal). (Taiwan culture seems to me a combination the latter two). Thinking in terms of Honor/Shame has helped me first to understand Bible passages that were confusing, given me greater appreciation of the beauty of the gospel and the deepness of God’s grace, understand why Taiwanese sometimes react in, to me, very strange ways, and finally to introduce “sin” to Taiwanese in terminology that connects to their heart. Thinking of sin as shame, shaming our heavenly father, ourselves being shameful (a state), rather than sin as an action. If sin is only an action (Western thought), the remedy is a counter action. But if sin is a state, then removing the sin requires much more than a counter action. To read more... http://www.aizhu.com/zcbc/honorshame.htm
(Lesson 4) Wrong perspectives: "I can" and "I can't" "I can" is the result of my pride -- Jesus was very clear: "apart from me you can do nothing." "I can't" is the result my doubt -- doubt in the power of God. I pray that I have the same attitude as Paul: "I can do all things (that God desires me to do) through Christ which strengthens me."
Re-integrating to Taiwan
Coming back to Taiwan, I found many changes. I wondered: “How does God want me to fit in?” I can see God working here, where do I fit into what God is doing in Taiwan? After a couple of months, it seems my involvement will be more focused than previous years:
In daily life, have seen God’s mercy in the acceptance of my student’s research paper by a good journal. After initially being rejected, the editor accepted the paper. God’s hand seems to me evident throughout the process if one has eyes to see,through guiding us to submit to this journal,to a successful appeal of the manuscripts rejection (basically never happens that an appeal succeeds).
- teaching at university (heavier than normal (12 not 8 units + new courses),
- strengthening relationship with wife,
- concerning students in Bible class,
- helping with International church, and
- seeking to support our church cell group.