Missionary Questions

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Missionary - n. one who is sent on a mission, especially one sent to do religious or charitable work in a territory or foreign country.

When I go home to the States for a visit, inevitably someone will ask me where I live. When I tell them China, the next question they ask is, are you a missionary?

I always thought my time in China was just a relocation of my husband's job, but the longer I'm here the more I've come to realize that God may have brought me here for missionary work. I definitely feel like I am trying to reach out to those who don't know Jesus and be light to their darkened world! So when I came across these missionary questions I thought they would be a fun way to share some of our life and ministry here with you. Enjoy!

1. If we went to your house in China what would we do differently than we do in the States?
Answer: Everything is different! The houses, the people, and the culture are all different from the States. And we are not just dealing with Chinese people. As China develops into a more industrious country people from around the world are coming here. We are exposed to a very diverse society here and it has taught us a lot. The hardest difference for us is the driving situation. We don't drive ourselves, the traffic is too crazy! So you would have to have a driver, take a taxi, or brave the bus! Gone are the days of jumping into your car and driving to the gas station when you're out of coke!

2. What do you enjoy doing in China that you can't do here?
Answer: Cheap, but oh-so-good massages! A two hour full body massage cost about $10 per person. I have to keep myself from going every week. I can't even imagine the cost in the States! Luxurious and shallow I know, but I had to be honest!

3. How does your family rest and rejuvenate in your adopted country?
Answer: We enjoy quiet weekends at home. Without immediate access to a car all the time that happens quite often. But our best way to rest is to go on a beach vacation. Almost every trip we've taken has included some beach location!

4. Tell me about the church or Christian fellowship you attend. What's the congregation like? How did you choose this group?
Answer: I like to think that our fellowship is a glimpse of what heaven will be like one day - people from all over the world, representative of all different nations and races, that praise God in every tongue and language. Our church is mainly college students and teachers from a wide variety of countries such as England, Australia, Canada, U.S., India, Indonesia, and several African countries. We pray every week that one day our Chinese brothers and sisters will be able to freely worship alongside us. Unlike America where there seems to be a church on every street corner, this congregation was the only available to us. We couldn't be picky and are grateful there is even one!

5. Who are your closest friends there? How did you meet them?
Answer: I would have to say Kelli and Regina. Regina's husband is Clint's boss, and Kelli's husband is another manager in the company with Clint. As we were some of the first families over here for the company we became friends by survival. It also helped that we all have kids the same age. Although I am not as close with them as they are with each other, they usually include me in their activities. We depend on each other for grocery shopping, transporting children, and babysitting. I would say we usually eat together as families at least once a week.

6. What part of your ministry do you find most exciting? Most discouraging?
Answer: Exciting - finding ways to share truth with them without throwing the Bible in their face. For example, the other day at lunch one of my friends was tired of waiting at the restaurant for another friend to show up. She got out her cell phone to let the late friend "have it". Before she dialed the number I simply said to her, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." She thought about it for a moment and when she made the call she decided to be gentle with her tone. It made all the difference in the world. Discouraging- that no matter how much truth I try to share and how much light I try to shine into their dark world, I don't seem to be making much headway -- and it's been 2 years!

7. What are the obstacles to the gospel in your adopted culture?
Answer: There are several. First is the limited opportunities we have to share the gospel with the Chinese. People find ways to do it but it is not always easy. The government is getting better but it is still not open to Christianity. Second is the language. To reach the Chinese you have to be able to communicate and relate to them in terms they can understand. I admire those who can fluently communicate with the Chinese! Even if a Chinese person speaks English there is always some gap that can't always be filled or understood when you try to translate words and ideas. Third is their deeply seeded beliefs, religion and traditions. I often wonder how we can reach them all when the roots of their beliefs run so deep. It's hard to change a people who have believed certain ideals for thousands of years.

8. Have you experienced specific spiritual warfare?
Answer: Definitely! Just today I was praying about the thick darkness I feel surrounding so many here. I asked God to pierce and shatter that darkness and to help me remember that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. It is a constant battle and so many times I feel like we are not gaining any ground here. But then God reminds me, like He did today, that with Him we will gain the victory and He will trample down our enemies (Psalm 60:12).

9. What are some surprise blessings you have received lately?
Answer: God has blessed us financially recently that we weren't expecting; one of Clint's Chinese workers has been reading the Bible we gave him at Christmas at work; and daily I see God answering prayers in the most amazing ways!

10. How many different stamps are in your passport?
Answer: It's no secret my love for traveling and after our holiday at the end of this month, the total will be 44 stamps and 4 visa pages. I read a quote this week that I should have coined: "I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list."

11. What question do you wish someone would ask you?
Answer: What would you want your family and friends to know the most? It means the world to us when you call, write, or send something to us in the mail on a regular basis. Sometimes we think that we are all but forgotten about here as you go on with your lives. Those little things really make our day!

If you have missionaries from your church you can write to, these would be great questions to ask (obviously, change out the country name). I'm sure they would love to share a part of their world with you and having a note from home would probably bring a smile to their faces!

Changed thinking

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The freakiest thing happened to me Sunday night. Walking around my house doing mundane tasks I got a sudden pain in my knee. Since I didn't slip, trip or fall I just thought I might have pulled something. I figured a good night's rest was all I needed. The next morning though, I was still uncomfortable. Since there was no searing pain I went ahead with a light workout. Afterwards I noticed my knee was slightly swollen, and decided to go ahead and call the doctor. When I went in that afternoon, he looked at it and agreed there was something wrong. He said the ligaments around my knee were fine and there didn't seem to be any tearing, but something was causing the inflammation. We would have to do blood work and possibly an MRI to see exactly what was going on. Who would have guessed it would come to all that?

The rest of the appointment was a little blurry with him talking about everything from gout to arthritis to autoimmune disease. My brain could only handle so much, so I just agreed to go along with what he suggested to do and would think about it later. Of course, once I got home and thought about it, my mind couldn't help but walk down a path of gloom and doom. What if it's this? What if I need that? I let myself go on like this for about 30 minutes and then decided to think like I should; as God tells me to think.

1. I had to think on what was true, honorable, right, lovely, pure, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Where would "stinkin' thinkin'" get me? Nowhere! I had to stop and change my thought patterns. Immediately!

2. So I had to remember who my Creator was. He created me and knows every inch of my body, healthy and not so healthy. Focusing on Him rather than the problem was a big help.

3. Then I had to remind myself that this was not out of His knowledge or His control. If there is a problem, then He knows it, has allowed it, and will help me through it. He can also heal it if He so chooses.

Once my thinking changed, the rest of my evening was more enjoyable. It doesn't matter how long you may walk with the Lord, you will always face times when you have to go back to square one to get through a situation. I'm glad I did.

Just as I was going to bed, a friend whom I had called earlier to cancel a meeting with because of my injury called worried about what could be wrong with me. She went on for 5 minutes distraught with situations. I listened to her and after I hung up the phone I could only smile because I had walked in her shoes earlier that evening. The only difference was that I knew I would have sweet and peaceful rest because I had not let my thoughts get the best of me and was trusting God.

No matter what you may face today don't let wrong thinking get the best of you. Change your thinking and see how much difference it makes with your situation. I don't know what will happen with my knee, but I'm not worried. That's what thinking God's way will do for you.

Lessons learned

Monday, April 07, 2008

I don't know how many people I've shared this story with before, but I recently had to put it into article form. As I wrote it, I realized what a great lesson God taught me through that situation. He has given me children to care for on this earth for a time, but sometimes He has to take care of things Himself without any parental involvement. This story was one of those times...

Like most parents, I want to do what's best for my children. But sometimes doing nothing on their behalf is as equally important. That's the lesson I learned a few years ago when my oldest daughter, Kayley, was faced with a tough situation at school.

My husband and I first realized something was going on with Kayley during our dinnertime conversations. Discussing the day's events, Kayley would always mention her classmate, Shiloh, when it was her time to share. Over time the stories surrounding Shiloh seemed to become more personal. As we listened to Kayley, our heads knew what our hearts didn't want to believe. Our daughter was being bullied.

Bullying takes many forms and thankfully, our situation was not a violent one. It was a subtle form of bullying, but damaging nonetheless. Shiloh, who was a tomboy, ridiculed Kayley for wearing the color pink in any form, for dressing in skirts,and for participating in girly activities. It was obvious that Shiloh, who deep down wanted to do those things but couldn't, was looking to bring someone down to her level. Unfortunately for us, she chose Kayley.

As we watched Kayley change because of the constant insults and badgering, anger rose up in our hearts. My husband wanted to confront Shiloh's parents about the situation, but for some strange reason I didn't feel led to do that. I told him we just needed to pray and see what God would have us to do.

Many hours were spent in prayer seeking guidance and wisdom. Finally God revealed the direction were were to take in 1 Peter 2:23, "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." As much as we wanted justice for Kayley's pain, God was asking us not to take action but to trust Him completely in this situation. As hard as it was, we knew we had to follow.

Although we felt God did not want us to take action to correct the situation, that didn't mean we couldn't take action in our trust of him. Prayer became the means by which we exemplified to Kayley our trust that God would handle everything. Every morning we prayed for a wall of protection around Kayley that Shiloh's words could not penetrate, and every night we prayed for Shiloh's heart and attitude to be changed. By the end of the school year we knew that our prayers had been answered. The two girls were not best friends, but the bullying had stopped.

I wish my daughter never had to go through this experience. To this day she still bears the marks that Shiloh inflicted upon her. But looking back I know that she is stronger in her character and in her faith because of it. So am I. By allowing God to handle the situation we all learned valuable lessons. It's in those lessons that we find the greatest treasures.