What sufferings for Christ?
“.. not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” (Php 1:29)
As our mission Taiwan 2009 was coming soon, I wondered what made last year’s mission so successful. Was it because of those kids having fun in learning songs, listening to Bible stories, reciting verses, learning English, enjoying puppet show, playing games, having free luncheon for a week, and receiving gifts, etc.? Or was it more than that?
I think it is because we suffered for his sake, especially for those new adult believers. When Pastor Lin said at the end of the farewell night that we had left our comfortable homes in the US, arrived in Ligang at midnight, then sprung out of bed to work next morning and working non-stop from early morning to evening every day, people were touched.
They knew we suffered from sacrificing finances and vacation time to come to this poor place to introduce Jesus to them, the one true God. And the parents saw us living in a simple old hotel away from our comfortable and spoiled homes in America, empathizing with our suffering, but feeling our love in how we patiently cared for their kids and seeing us joyfully believing in God.
During last year’s mission, we were supposed to sleep on the small church’s floor. A month before we departed, God provided us a hotel to protect us from floods and bugs, so we had the strength to lead two camps. This is out of God’s goodness. He alerted me by sending an unknown lady to show her bug bites while I was in Sonar at my daily work out place. I have never seen her before, but she kept on showing me those bites from staying in Marriot during her frequent business trips. It was kind of embracing to look closely at her body as she asked me to do so. After she left, a worry about our sleeping on the floor in Ligang church occurred to me, I called Pastor Lin that night, and confirmed my concern: the heavy rain had just flooded the church right then. But, I was told by him there are no hotels there. I started to search internet for hotels in neighboring countries during my meeting breaks, and unbelievably found one right close by the school where we have VBS camp, not even known to pastor Lin. God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that we may be able to endure it. (1 Col 10:13). Interestingly, until today, I haven’t seen this lady stranger again.
This year, we are to stay in a real nice resort hotel. And it’s so near by, large enough to accommodate our team of 30 folks, and deeply discounted just for us. This is again from God’s goodness and mercy.
Before this, Pastor Lin has arranged two hotels to accommodate us, other than the old hotel we stayed last year, he found another hotel 20-minute drive away. Besides it’s quite expensive, I worry about the team spirit from staying in two hotels. As I prayed about it one night, I searched the internet by entering a keyword: Kaohsiung hotel, the Kaohsiung farm hotel is the first one came up. After looking into its site, I was amazed to find out the hotel is so nearby, although it is located in another county, and even better it is a modern resort seated in a huge orchard. At first call, the hotel gave me a deep discount, later I called Pastor Lin about this, he was totally surprised by the deep discount we received without any local connection, and he said that’s God’s grace.
Typically when searching the internet, the luxury or famous downtown hotels show up first, small hotels are pages away. For this little known hotel in a rural area to show up first, it surprises internet experts. Interestingly, I can’t find this hotel anymore by just entering the “Kaohsiung hotel” keyword to search in the internet.
I have to say this is from God.
So in what are we to suffer? For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake (Php 1:29) God never makes us to be miserable, but Jesus did want us to suffer for Him, He himself suffered for God in dying on the cross. And from where our salvation and its gospel came out, today, it’s right for us to suffer in order to spread His gospel.
Sufferings can mean many things: financial loss, injury, sickness, troubled relationship, arguing co-workers, family feud, naughty students, anti-Christ Buddhist, humiliation, even carelessness, accusation and criticism from church people and etc. Thank Lord for giving us this opportunity to fight on a victorious outcome won by Jesus, so we can experience His glory in extending the kingdom of God at Ligang in our home country.
Pray us being watchful in engaging this spiritual fight, and be prayerful in seeing through the sufferings, like Tim was once told by Paul to fight the good fight by focusing on the God-given vision, holding true faith, a clean heart and a good conscience(1 Tim 1:5, 18-19). By God’s grace, Mission Taiwan 2009 has two worship teams to lead two VBS camps in two elementary schools. The uniqueness about this year’s worship team is being led by worship leaders from FCBC and CCCFC, and co-lead by eight young people from high school and college. With additional nine elementary students, half of our mission Taiwan team consists of our sons and daughters, PTL!
For our ACC folks who can’t go to this year’s mission to Taiwan, you still have opportunities to participate, to demonstrate God’s love to people in Taiwan. There is a need of $1500 left to provide two camps’ lunches for 250 kids, majority of them are from poor families. Your financial sacrifice is your suffering for Christ.