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Posts Tagged ‘Asia’

God’s Drama In Asia!

What an amazing world we live in! Because our flight from Kuching, Malaysia to Singapore is cancelled this morning, we are being re-routed through Kuala Limpur on a flight leaving in three hours. So while Sherrylee does some airport shopping for the grandkids, I’m sitting in a Coffee Bean shop, having a latte with a banana muffin while Carrie Underwood sings from the Grand Ole Opry on the TV monitor above me—in Kuching, Malaysia.

Next door to this little oasis of western culture is a shop selling prayer rugs and shawls for Muslim tourists, and in the restaurant at the other end of the departure area, advertisements announce a special menu for Ramadan. It’s about 90 degrees outside with 150% humidity, but beautiful purple wild orchids grow everywhere on the side of the road. The humidity we have in Houston, but not the orchids!

Last night’s dinner was a drama of mixed cultures: a seafood dinner served family style with peppered crab, whole shrimp, grilled whole fish, fern, and something my friend Dave Hogan (Singapore) called “worms” when he asked me to pass them.  And then we had a McDonald’s strawberry sundae for dessert. What an amazing world we live in!

Sherrylee and I attended the 51st Asia Mission Forum (AMF) in Kuching this year in order to visit with many of the Asian church leaders and missionaries to whom LST sends teams.  If you think the world is amazing, God’s church in this world is amazingly dramatic!

About two hundred people attended this AMF, one of the larger crowds, from about a dozen different countries.  On any row of seats, you would probably find a Christian couple from Singapore sitting next to their friends from Kuala Limpur and a family from the Philippines.  Japan had an especially large group this year; China was represented as was Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Then there were the guests like us from the United States and a whole mob from Texas!

Joel Osborne, a former LST worker who now lives and works in Japan, was the director of the AMF and did an especially wonderful job balancing worship, teaching, fellowship, and inspiration.  Jim McGuiggin, the Irish saint of Churches of Christ who now lives near Nashville, brought deeply moving lessons each day. Joel led us in stirring worship—almost liturgical in its thoughtful structure and responsive readingsbut the highlight for me were the personal testimonies of some of the Asian Christians.

Talk about drama, would you be surprised to know that one of the highest officials in the government in the Philippines is a devout Christian who hosts a congregation of saints in his home near Manilla?  And while he could have awed us with his own story, he spent most of his allotted time talking about his wife, who was rising in the judicial ranks as a judge in the Philippines, perhaps on a track to the Supreme Court, when she resigned! She resigned her position because of the corruption and abuse of power in the ranks of her fellow judges—but she didn’t resign out of fear! No, she resigned to fight! She wrote two books documenting the corruption and abuse of power and has become a national figure in the fight against corruption.  The two of them are powerful Christian voices for the revival of integrity in a country that has a long Christian tradition.

Then last night three young Japanese Christians, struggling to control their emotions, told about how the disastrous earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 had affected them. These three young Christians, alone with Joel Osborne, directed much of the Japanese disaster relief done by Churches of Christ, including collection and distribution of food and clothing and relief items, in addition to the clean-up and recovery work that continues.

Pausing with every sentence, the young woman told how she went to the disaster area in faith but how the questions of God’s absence in the midst of all the destruction and suffering actually caused her to decide there could not be a God who would allow such! She abandoned her faith–but stayed with her work for the disaster victims. What she discovered was that giving up on God brought no more answers and no relief to her pain. Then her Christian friends reminded her of Christ’s suffering, even his feeling abandoned on the cross, and God found her soft heart and moved back in to recover and heal her—as she continues to help others heal.

The exotic plants, the food, the culture—these are all interesting—but the people and their stories, this is where we see God’s drama being unpacked in our lives. God’s story has life, death, joy and sorrow, beauty and beasts—but God’s drama is the real world—the most amazing one of all!

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