Warm Greetings!

Warm greetings!  I sincerely hope this finds that each of you are well.  This is just a short post today to share some of the scriptural truths which impressed me as I was going through my devotional reading earlier this morning.  The passage I was reading comes from 2 Chronicles 17…

2Chronicles17(NLT)

Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, reigned from circa 874 to 850 BC.  He was the great-great-grandson of Solomon (after whose reign the northern and southern tribes split into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, circa 931 BC).  When Jehoshaphat’s great-grandfather (and Solomon’s son), Rehoboam “was firmly established and strong, he abandoned the Law of the Lord, and all Israel followed him in this sin” (2 Chronicles 12:1, NLT04).  When Jehoshaphat’s grandfather (and Rehoboam’s son), Abijah reigned,  the icons of idolatry and adultery (foreign altars, pagan shrines, sacred pillars, incense altars, and Asherah poles) remained in the land.  When Jehoshaphat’s father (and Abijah’s son), Asa reigned, he “did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God…remov[ing] the foreign altars and pagan shrines…smash[ing] the sacred pillars and cut[ting] down the Asherah poles” (2 Chronicles 14:2-3, NLT04).

Here is what the above passage tells us about Jehoshaphat:

a. He worshiped God, not the images of Baal.

b. He sought God, not the permeating falsehoods.

c. He obeyed God’s commands, not the evil practices of the kingdom of Israel.

d. He was deeply committed to the ways of God, not the idolatry and adultery that had become commonplace.

Jehoshaphat’s worship of, seeking of, obeying, commitment to, and revived heart toward God was contrary to what had become acceptable in the society for those past near 60 years.  And do you know what Jehoshaphat became?  …A missionary to his own people!

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In the third year of his reign Jehoshaphat sent his officials to teach in all the towns of Judah.  These officials included Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah.  He sent Levites along with them, including Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah.  He also sent out the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They took copies of the Book of the Law of the LORD and traveled around through all the towns of Judah, teaching the people” (2 Corinthians 17:7-9, NLT07).

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Did you know that no less is expected of us?  “Jesus came and told His disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20, NLT07).  You don’t necessarily have to leave your country, your region, your county, your city, and sometimes even your own household to be a missionary!  Mind blowing, I know.  The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us…He has commanded YOU, His obedient disciple to teach others whether near or far to be obedient disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ likewise!

Godspeed!

Victoria

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…And the summer mission trip experience series continues! (Guest Contributor)

WaterfallApptrail

Hello readers! My name is Adam and I am a college student, assistant to my church’s youth leader, Awana teacher, and preacher. This past June 23rd–27th a small mission team from my church traveled to Elizabethton, Tennessee to help spread the Gospel and God’s love. It was the first mission trip away from home for all seven members of our team, even though we did not travel very far from our homes.

We arrived safely on Sunday afternoon and settled into our place of dwelling for the week. A local church was gracious enough to allow us the use of their activities building and kitchen. Later on Sunday night we met with our mission’s coordinator from Hale Community Ministries. After our meeting, our mission’s coordinator determined that we weren’t quite prepared enough to do the Bible club on the first morning. As a group, we were extremely disappointed because we were so excited about teaching each lesson, conducting recreation, organizing crafts, and preparing snacks, food, and drinks. However, we decided to use the extra time to prepare more and conduct a small Bible study and discussion with our group.

On Monday afternoon, we visited a local nursing home to witness, pray, sing, and do anything to make the home’s residents feel better. One of our group members had never ministered in a nursing home before and was really touched by the experience. After the nursing home, we met with our mission’s coordinator and went to the area where we would be doing the Bible club— a poverty-stricken mobile home park. Our team began knocking on doors and informing those in the community of our intentions. We returned to the church after spending some time there.

Tuesday was our first day of the Bible club which was intended to be for kids K-6, but we did not turn away kids of any age from attending. Each day we conducted a prayer walk, asking God to continue giving us courage, wisdom, and guidance. After our prayer walk, we went door to door to walk the children to the site where we would conduct the club. Once all of the children were there, we gave them pop-tarts, granola bars, and juice boxes. The ages of the kids spanned from three to thirteen.

We conducted the club and shared lessons about Christ. Our group continued this until Thursday morning which was our last day. We bought each kid a Bible and some toys too. It ended up raining on Thursday morning so we had to cancel the club, but the Lord allowed the rain to subside so we could go door to door to hand the kids their gift bags and the snacks we had already prepared for the day.

It seemed that our trip flew by, but it was definitely fun and an experience I will not forget. We played basketball, hiked part of the Appalachian Trail to a magnificent waterfall (pictured above), and really grew as a group! Everyone who went on the trip was touched by God.

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The most important thing we realized was that the kids were hungry and not just hungry for food, but for attention, love, and the Hope of Jesus Christ.
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The image that touched me the most was a little three year old girl. We grilled hotdogs one day for the kids and anyone in the community who wanted them. The little girl ate three hotdogs on a bun and one more without a bun while only an hour and thirty minutes before eating two pop-tarts. To see how hungry the kids were really spoke to me and made me realize all the things, including food, we often take for granted. I would challenge anyone who reads this to count your blessings and if you have never been on a mission trip, make it a priority to do so. I guarantee you that the Lord will bless you.

I would like to thank first and foremost God, our church, Hale Community Ministries, and many others, but especially Victoria for allowing me to post on the With True Hope blog and giving me the opportunity to share with you what our group did and how the Lord moved in and through our lives, while we humbly served Him.

I will leave you with this verse from 1 Peter 3:15 which states, “but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (HCSB). Is the Messiah– the Lord Jesus Christ– the reason for the hope that is in you? And if so, are you always ready to share of Jesus Christ’s hope with those who are hungry for Him?

In Christ,
Adam

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BRAIDS AND BRIDGES

braidsandbridges

Connect Mission Trips– Nashville.  Who knew that when Mission Discovery introduced their Connect Mission Trips for 2013 that the Nashville trip which caught my eye would soon thereafter catch my heart and the hearts of those in my church as well!  God did.  Although it probably goes without saying at this point, we recently returned from spending a week in Nashville serving alongside Mission Discovery making new connections and strengthening existing ones!

So “braids and bridges”…what’s that all about?

For one thing, our trip involved a lot of braids as evidenced bellow!

BraidsMural

Half of our group– the half I was with– had the privilege to spend our days at a local community center’s children’s camp!  This is where most of the braiding occurred 😉  While my hair was not quite ideal for scalp braiding, “my” girls fearlessly took on the challenge and gave me my first ever scalp braids!  They did an amazing job!  (If you need further evidence than the above pictures, you could check out this video from 1:55-2:03 too!)

The other half of our group– the half my brothers were with– had the privilege of building a wheelchair ramp for a really sweet lady who has cerebral palsy!  Once they began the building project, it did not take long for them to start referring to the ramp as the “bridge”…  Just look at the pictures below and you’ll probably also agree that the “bridge” is indeed an appropriate term for their project!

BridgeMural

More than the actual projects, I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we greatly enjoyed and appreciated the people we had the opportunity to connect with– or rather were braided and bridged together with 😉

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Connections (kəˈnekSHəns)– a relationship in which a person…is linked…with some[one] else.1

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You see, “braids and bridges” not only signifies the tangible (and very tight if I may add) scalp braids and wood bridge structure but the deeper connections that were made on our trip.  Deeper connections with one another in our group, with other Mission Discovery (and MFUGE) leaders and team members, with the Civil Group youth, with the children and staff at the community center, with Mrs. W…and especially with Christ!

In a song I wrote, What Matters Most, are these lyrics: “Did I know You for who You are?  Did I draw near, not apart?  Did I believe from my heart and show the world who You are?”  Answering “yes” to these question is (or should be) the ultimate goal in our lives… Do we know, really know Christ because it’s not just knowing about Him that is important?  Are we desperate to be nearer and nearer to Him with each moment?  Do we then encourage others to do the same as we live and love like Christ because we truly believe from our hearts that He is who He is?

I believe that it is only in the pursuit and appreciation of a genuine relationship with Christ that we can learn how to pursue and appreciate quality relationships with others!  He shows us what relationships, or “connections”, are to look like.  He is trustworthy, honorable, encouraging, and forgiving, a friend who loves at all times, sticking closer than a brother, regarding the interests of others, laying His life down for His friends…and the list can go on and on!

Towards the end of our mission trip, we were presented with a great idea: to pick a couple of names of the friends we had connected with during the trip and remember to pray for them every day for the next year.

In John 17, Jesus’ prayer for His friends is recorded.  He prays, “…I ask on their behalf…Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.  While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me…now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.  As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:9-19, NASB95).

What a beautiful prayer! And what a beautiful example for us…for me to follow and accordingly live and love like Christ!

Today, I pray for you, my friends that the Holy Father would keep you in His name, the name of Jesus Christ.  I pray that you will have Christ’s joy made full in you, knowing His word and truth; that He would keep you from the evil one; and that you may be sanctified, being who God has called you to be and doing what God has called you to do!

Your Friend,

Victoria

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1. “Connection.” Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Available from http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/connection.

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Nashville Mission Trip 2013

Hello All,

I hope that you are doing well!  I just returned from a Mission Discovery CONNECT mission trip to Nashville along with my church’s youth!  Some of the things we did included building a wheelchair ramp for a cerebral palsy patient, working with the children at a local community center’s day camp, and volunteering at the Bridge Ministry!  It was great to serve Christ through serving others!  I’d like to share with you a short video that I put together of our mission trip experience: click here to go to the WeVideo location.  Enjoy!

In Christ,

Victoria

(P.S.: Stay tuned to the With True Hope blog, there are more posts about summer mission trip experiences coming!)

Willingly and Wholly Devoted?

BurgerAndFries

My mother and I are preparing for an upcoming women’s Bible study centered on the theme, “FROM DEMONS TO DELIVERANCE AND DEVOTION: THE TESTIMONY OF MARY OF MAGDALA”.  Mary of Magdala (or Mary Magdalene) is mentioned multiple times throughout each of the four Gospels (Mt. 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mk. 15:40, 47; 16:1-13; Lk. 8:2; 24:10; and Jn. 19:25; 20:1-18).  This is quite remarkable being as the authors of the Gospels wrote them with distinct emphases for their original audiences and functional themes, yet they each understood the testimony of Mary of Magdala to be relevant to their Gospels’ specific audiences and themes to each make repeated mentions of her. 1

The accounts of Mary of Magdala in the Gospels are pretty evenly split between descriptions of her individually and descriptions of her with a group of women.  It is interesting to note that in the places where she is mentioned with a group of women her name heads the list.

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Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their [Jesus’ and the Twelve Disciples’] support [or care] out of their private means” (Luke 8:2b-3, NASB95).

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These women devoted themselves to Christ, and accordingly, to the work of His ministry.  They attended to Christ, ministering to (serving) Him out of their substance – of their possessions, what they had.  Scholar Ben Witherington II writes in his socio-rhetorical commentary of the Gospel of Mark, “the women [among whom Mary of Magdala is included] are disciples, for they are clearly described as those who both followed and served Jesus in Galilee, two things that characterize discipleship”.

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“There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome.  When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to [or serve] Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem” (Mark 15:40-41, NASB95).

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Discipleship…I thought that we were talking about devotion, so which is it!?!

Devotion and discipleship are not either-or’s.  Devotion and discipleship are both-and’s — they are like both hamburgers and french fries (or sweet potato fries, if you’re like me), both spaghetti and meatballs, both oreos and milk, both coffee and mornings, both leather jackets and Fonzie — they go together!  A disciple refers to “one who puts himself [or herself] under the teaching of someone else and learns from him”.2  Discipleship refers to “follow[ing] the precepts and instructions of another”.3  Such definitions imply willing devotion on behalf of the disciple.  In order to be a disciple, an individual must be willingly devoted the one and therefore the teachings of the one of whom he or she is a disciple.

Mary of Magdala and the group of women who accompanied her were willingly and wholly devoted disciples of Christ.  Jesus had delivered them and they did not forget that!  They had received grace and in gratefulness they responded graciously.  They were those described alike “good soil”; they had heard the word in an honest and good heart, and held it fast, and bore fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:15).

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Are we “good soil”?

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Are our lives seen as works of faith and labors of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NASB95)?  Is it obvious that we have been delivered by Christ and are disciples who are willingly and wholly devoted to Him?  Do we respond graciously in gratefulness to the grace we have received?  Will we follow Christ and serve Him wherever, however, whenever He instructs?

“YOU live among the least of these: the weary and the weak, and it would be a tragedy for me to turn away, all my needs YOU have supplied. When I was dead YOU gave me life. How could I not give it away so freely? I’ll follow YOU into the homes of the broken, I’ll follow YOU into the world, and meet the needs for the poor and the needy, GOD, I’ll follow YOU into the world…I give all myself, I give all myself, and I give all myself to YOU” (Leeland, Follow You <– Click to view the music video)!

Victoria

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ENDNOTES:

1.  The original audiences and functional themes of the Gospels are typically considered to be as follows:

–  the Gospel of Matthew was written with a Jewish audience in mind, emphasizing Jesus as the Promised Messiah and Expected King who fulfills the Law, Prophets, and Writings;

–  the Gospel of Mark was written with a Gentile audience in mind, emphasizing Jesus as the Sovereign Savior and Servant who suffered on our behalf taking the penalty for our sin upon Himself;

–  the Gospel of Luke was written with an specific individual (Theophilus) and general Gentile audience in mind, emphasizing Jesus as reliably and verifiably Perfect God Perfect Man; and

–  the Gospel of John was written with a unbelieving audience in mind (John 20:30-31), emphasizing Jesus as the Eternal Word, Wonderful Truth, and Everlasting Life.

Please note that while the Gospels as literary works have distinct original audiences and functional themes, they maintain a consistently unified theological purpose– Jesus the Christ is the Son of the Living and Loving God and Eternal Risen Savior of Jews and Gentiles (all men and women alike) through His absolute and gracious sacrifice for us sinners in utmost need of Him, to those who believe He gives forgiveness, redemption, and life through His Precious Spirit – and their message is equally meant for us!

2. Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997).

3. Ibid..

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Samaria…

Photo: BiblePlaces.com. BiblePlaces.com Image Library. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software (2009).

Photo: BiblePlaces.com. BiblePlaces.com Image Library. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software (2009).

The Woman of Samaria (also known as The Woman at the Well) is one of my favorite testimonies in Scripture.  In the past I have always tended to look at this Scriptural account from the perspective of the woman.  When I read the account this time, however, I endeavored to look at it from the perspective of Jesus.

Jesus was a Jew and the woman of Samaria was, well, a Samaritan.  The Jews were historically known to abhor the Samaritans so much that they wouldn’t even pass through the region of Samaria to get to their destination (even though it was the shortest, most practical route).  Samaritans and Jews would have no dealings whatsoever with each other.  No communion.  No transaction.  No association.  They wouldn’t even dare to drink out of a common cup or well, let alone share a meal.  And they would especially have no religious dealings.

“HE left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But HE needed to go through Samaria. So HE came to a city of Samaria called Sychar” (John 4:3-5, NKJV82).

Jesus NEEDED to go through Samaria!?! Why did Jesus NEED to go through Samaria?!?

John 3:16 says, “For GOD so loved the world that HE gave HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON that whosoever believes in HIM should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV82).  Jesus went to Samaria because of who He is ―the Lover and Savior of souls in desperate need of Him.  There were souls in need of Jesus in Samaria.

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Is God asking you to go somewhere or do something you usually aren’t fond of going or doing for the sake of others?

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Jesus went to Samaria.  He was tired, weary, and thirsty from His walk.  He broke through gender and ethnic barriers.  He was in Samaria to do the will of His Father.  Glory to God!

The woman who came to the well day after day for water to quench her physical thirst did not know that particular day she would meet Jesus and receive living water to quench the eternal thirst of her soul.  The LORD met her where she was and she was forever changed so much so that she left her waterpot at the feet of Jesus and went into the city to tell others about the Man who told her all things that she ever did.

Jesus ―God Himself― went to the cross for us!  He was despised, rejected, pierced, crushed, wounded, oppressed, and afflicted (Isaiah 53).  He broke through the barriers of sin.  He did the will of HIS Father.  Glory to God!

What a wonderful Savior!  He is respecter of no persons― His Salvation is not dependant on whether we are a man or a woman nor Ethiopian or Arabian or Indian or German or Australian or Canadian or American.  “[T]he righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ [is] for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:22-25, NASB95).  “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all” (Romans 6:10, NASB95).

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Is there a “Samaria” you NEED to go to?

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“Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35, NIV84).

Mary

From Obscurity To Clarity

Hello friends!  I hope that your beginning to this new year is going exceptionally well!  I’m sitting here attempting to write this post with this little guy (pictured below) staring at me and barking for my attention, “I’m-here-I’m-here-I’m-here”!

Gus (aka Guster Mythbuster)

Gus (aka Guster Mythbuster)

Anyway…I would like to share with you a little bit about my beginning to this new year.  Each year for the past few years I have adopted a sort of “theme verse for the year”.  For 2011, mine was: “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV84).  For 2012, mine was: “Draw me after You and let us run together” (Song of Solomon 1:4, NASB95).   And this year’s is… “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NASB95).

Last week, I picked up the Heroes of the Faith book, “Amy Carmichael: A Life Abandoned to God”.  I came to chapter thirteen and was cut to the heart with these words:

“No charge of idleness can be made against us, as a whole.  But how is it that so much of our busy energy appears to be expanded in vain?  Holy Scripture, personal experience, the voice of conscience, all these alike suggest one answer– we have neglected largely the means which God Himself has ordained for anointing from on High…Prayer!” 1

OUCH!  How much of my busy energy has been in vain?  Am I guilty of largely neglecting the means which God Himself has ordained for anointing from on High?  Have I spent more time guessing or praying?

Is not it better to beseech God for clarity, listen and obey, than attempt to obscurely peek in “doors” and “windows”, misapplying the assertion that such obscure peeks are “steps of faith”?       

It is my prayer this year that I would not neglect the means which God Himself has ordained for anointing from on High!  Instead, I want to pray as I should, coming to God believing that “He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV).  Maybe I could even learn a lesson from little Gus, who quite obviously knows how to diligently and devotedly “seek”.

Here I am!  Here I am!  Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening (1 Samuel 3:10, paraphrased).

 Victoria

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          1. Wellman, S., (1998), ” Amy Carmichael: A Life Abandoned to God”, p. 177, Qtd. Carmichael, A., (1950), “This One Thing”, pp. 79-83.

Exclusive Interview!

I recently had the privilege to sit down with my good friend, Emily who graciously agreed to be interviewed by me and share some of her recent missions experiences with you− the With True Hope readers!  Enjoy…

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So Emily, you had the opportunity to travel abroad recently.  Where did you go?

“The Lord allowed me to visit Beijing and Ji Xian, in China. Ji Xian is about halfway between Beijing and the coast of the Pacific Ocean on the Eastern side of China.”

Could you describe your initial thoughts or reaction when you arrived in China?

My very first thought was “I’m not in Kansas anymore.” As we were sitting on the plane that first night we arrived, there came a special announcement about how they were going to spray down the interior of the plane before they allowed us to disembark. This would take care of any germs we were bringing with us, apparently. Nothing like that has ever happened to me flying in the States before, so yes, Kansas was far behind. When we stepped off the plane, I saw uniforms. Not a lot. But they were there, and it made me a little concerned. Did they know about the Bible in my backpack? But they were quick to smile and seemed friendly. That helped.

My first real impression of China itself came with the daylight. Wherever you are, whether the grocery store, the street, the subway, the bus, or even just traffic, there is no such thing as personal space. What was great, though, is that you didn’t feel that anyone was being rude. They didn’t just shove into you. They saw you, they smiled, and you felt acknowledged. It wasn’t a mass of humanity that just swallowed you up. You feel connected.”

What would you term as the most interesting thing that you ate while in China?

Or did not eat (laugh)!  The food was really, really good!  The way that they serve meals is different.  The tables are round with a raised lazy Susan in the center of the table that the food is placed on.  And they don’t serve the food all at one shot or in ordered courses, but they keep on bringing fresh and new dishes.  In China, you don’t put all your food onto your plate either.  You just eat bites at a time, making sure that you aren’t spinning the table for a dish while someone else is eating from another dish!

There were a lot of veggie, and especially mushroom, dishes.  I ate a scorpion which tasted salty, a frog which tasted very spicy, and “fried milk” (a twinkie-like, cream or pudding filled donut) which was great!  The only thing I couldn’t eat was chickens feet whether they were pickled or raw in the market, they were just not appealing.”

What were some of your favorite that places you visited?

“The homes!  Whether it was one of the most humble or affluent homes, the hosts were overwhelmingly generous.  They each served with their best!  And the church!  It was like Christmas morning every time I went- the level of joy cannot be described.  Most of the church members seemed to come without the rest of their families, whether because they had come into Beijing from the outlying provinces to work, or because their family members weren’t saved, but they considered the church to be “home”. These believers are family to each other!

I also went to the Dragon Gorge, which is a pretty neat river in an immense cannon.  It was in one of the most primitive areas that I visited. Cold, cold green water, massive stone walls with Chinese characters carved in red on their sides, sharp peaks, and sunlight streaming down everywhere. It was incredible.”

You mentioned in a previous conversation that beyond the place, the people were the best part of your trip.  If you could sum up your experiences with the people in three words, what would those words be?  Feel free to expound.    

“That’s a hard one!  “Indescribable”…is that cheating (laugh)?   Okay.

Humbling.

Joyful.

Belonging.

Humbling because the Christians there live Christ.  They love the Lord so much that their lives become a living Gospel.  It is their life.  Their love is overflowing.

Joyful because when Christ is the center and you are where you are supposed to be, there is nothing but joy!  You don’t want to be anywhere else.  It reminded me of the movie Chariots of Fire, when missionary Eric Liddell told his sister that when he ran, he could feel God’s pleasure. God is pleased when we follow Him and are in the center of His will.

Belonging because not only did I know that I belong to the Lord and was in His will, but the people loved me too.  Before I got there, the people told me that they were praying for me and loving me.  And when I was there, they were praying for me and loving me even more!”

Is there a particular song or Scripture that has gained new meaning as a result of your experiences in Beijing and Ji Xian?  

“There’s an old hymn, “Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace/Over all victorious, in its bright increase… Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest/Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest”.  This song was with me the whole time, and I haven’t quit singing it since I got home!  Also, the reality of Psalm 138:8 -which I’ve shared with you before- hit me on the last day.  “The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.”  I’m excited about what God has in store!  I was in the airport, ready to depart, and had a moment of extreme doubt. Had everything I had felt and learned been only emotion? Was God really working in me? Had He really spoken to me? And then I knew God was right next to me!  The Bible says that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. It says He is faithful to complete the work which He starts in us. I believe that. The moment was pretty special.  I now know these verses better.  They meant a lot to me before, but God answered my prayers!  This trip was the culmination of everything that I had been bringing before the Lord.”

What would you say is your ‘most memorable memory’?   

“Can I have two?  My most memorable is definitely singing hymns on the bus in Chinese!  I love music, I love to sing.  It was one way to sit next to someone who didn’t speak the same language, yet be singing the same song and worshiping the same God!

My other memory was of the Chinese young people. They are raised in Communism, which teaches them that they have no intrinsic value as an individual. No worth apart from the collective. But Jesus loves them each so very, very much! They struggle with depression and purposelessness often, but the Gospel has changed so many of their lives. This is only one of many needs there, but it is the one that struck deepest into my heart.”

Final Remarks…

“The Chinese church prays for us every day!  They are prayer warriors for us and our churches a lot more than we are for them.  Please, please remember them and their churches in your prayers!”

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On behalf of the True Hope Ministry team and the With True Hope readers: “Thanks a million Emily for sharing your trip with us; may God bless you, as you have been a true blessing to us!”

Victoria

us and them…

In the 1930’s, London native, Gladys Aylward served in China as a missionary for Christ’s Gospel despite harsh criticism of her “academic inadequacy”.  Gladys eagerly pursued the Lord’s calling on her life, reflecting His heart in co-establishing an inn to house and teach mule drivers about Christ, caring for the needy, adopting orphans, and even guiding hundreds of orphan children across the mountains to safety when the Yuncheng, Shanxi province was invaded in 1938.

In 1977, Zambian native, Angus Buchan moved his family to Greytown, Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, South Africa as an escape.  In 1979, Angus and his wife Jill were brought to know Christ as their personal Deliverer and shortly thereafter assumed their responsibility of following the heart of God in obeying “The Great Commission – Mark 16:15…Caring for Orphans and Widows – James 1:27…[and] Equipping Saints for the Work of Ministry – Matthew 28:20″(Shalom Ministries).  Angus and Shalom Ministries demonstrate God’s heart as they house orphaned and abandoned children, provide a farm school, and preach the Word of God throughout the land.

In 2006, Tennessee native, Katie Davis traveled to Uganda over winter break during her senior year of high school.  Nearly six years, an international relocation, and thirteen daughters later, Katie has been entrusted with Amazima Ministries.  Amazima Ministries “feeds, educates, and encourages orphaned and vulnerable children and the poor in the country of Uganda”, “reveal[ing] the truth of God’s unconditional love through Jesus Christ to the Ugandan people” (Amazima Ministries).

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I have been reading the book, “Kisses from Katie“, which tells the  captivating  and  compelling  story of Christ orchestrating Katie Davis’s life, as she has followed the very heart of God right into Uganda!  I absolutely enjoy reading about missionaries like Gladys, Angus, and Katie – ordinary folk who follow the heart of an Extraordinary God.

Yet, doesn’t it seem that we tend to place them in a separate category, saying it’s US and THEM?  And doesn’t it seem that as a result we tend to use such a perception as an excuse: “Well, I am not George Muller, or Gladys Aylward, or Amy Carmichael, or Angus Buchan, or Katie Davis.” Perhaps not, but I am me and you are you and that should not be an excuse.

Please do not misinterpret this as judgmental at all, because I am writing this as an “oh me” lesson for myself!

I read in chapter six of Katie’s book both of what she is  n o t  doing in adopting her children ─”It is not my good deed for the day; it is not what I am doing to ‘help out these poor kids'”, and what she  i s  doing ─”I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphan and the widows in their distress”.

Are you telling me that I must physically go to a foreign land and adopt children?!?  Only if that is what the Spirit of God is compelling you to do.  What are you telling me then…?  God has called each of us to follow His heart, and not merely out of responsibility to do so, but out of love from our experience.

Remember that we know what love is because He lavished His love upon us first (1 John 4:19).

Katie notes that “[a]doption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world…[it] is God’s heart.”  Then she quotes Ephesians 1:5, “In love He predestined US to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.”  Isn’t that great news?  God demonstrates His great love for us, adopting us, then allows us to, in a sense, “pay-it-forward”.

Every single one of us may not literally adopt orphaned-abandoned children.  However, every single one of us is presented with the opportunity to partake in ministry with God the Father, who adopts US, showing us His immense love for us!  Doesn’t that excite you to want to accept each person God places in your path as someone who you can show the love of God toward, reflecting His very heart, testifying of what He has done for you?

So should it really be us and them?  Has He not called US to reflect His heart?  Are not we EACH ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through US (2 Corinthians 5:19,20)?  How will you (fill in your name) reflect the heart of God today?

Victoria