Friday, November 30, 2007

Clown on the Go Go Go

Time flies when you are having fun, it also flies when you are in the air flying! And here I am off again with only a few more days in the comfort of my home. I am not counting the shopping days until Christmas, I am counting the days I have left until I make my way across hills, valleys, mountains and a big, big ocean.

December is viewed as the best time of year for those serving in China. The Christmas holiday has really taken hold of the nation that provides our homes with most of the Christmas lights and many of the toys and other gadgets purchased and wrapped beneath the tree. Santa Claus figures are everywhere and even holiday songs echo in the smallest restaurants. It is a time to ask those caught up in the "celebration" of gift giving, if they know the REAL reason for the season. I will never forget hearing the testimony of one of my interpreters when she told of being invited to a foreigners house and learning of the meaning behind the Christmas. She said with tears in her eyes, "to receive such a gift, such a sacrifice of love - I couldn't believe it, and yet I knew I had to believe it. I accepted Christ into my heart and called my mother immediately when I got home and told her the Good News. She said, "I don't understand all of what you have said, but if this Jesus loves you like that - then I must love Him too."

It is an honor to return to China for the seventh consecutive year, and have the access to over 250 orphan children as well as 150 Doctoral Program students at the University. We never know how long the doors will remain open, or the opportunity to share matters of the heart (when questions are asked) will vanish.

Tonight, I attended a Christmas concert featuring Michael English. It was a wonderful and intimate small audience as he shared his trials and his triumphs over many hardships. He shared Christmas favorites (including his hit "Mary Did You Know") and one of my childhood favorites "The Little Drummer Boy". As he sang the familiar words "I had no gift to bring - parumpapum pum, that's fit to give a King..." I thought what gift would I give to my King this year?

It did not take long before I remembered the love song a young Indian boy sang out to me just a few days ago, (translated "I will love you forever,") the laughter of a baby held in his father's arms while he chased the bubbles floating on the village breeze; or would I bring the joy shining in the faces of the first Joni and Friends Camp "Clown School Graduates"; or the dance of young African school children who received their "Operation Christmas Child" gift box, all I picture as His presents to me, that I will one day return to Him. My heart beat harder, and my love for Him grew deeper as I recalled face after face in far away lands I have shared with this past year.

There are many gifts we can give to those we love, but during the hustle and hassle of the season, the reason we celebrate often gets lost in the shadow of tinsel and the din of ho ho ho's. Your faithfulness has been an abiding gift you have to offer back to Him - a Praise offering to the One we serve.

Oh, what a gift we have to celebrate. Oh what a gift we have to share.

My humblest thanks for your active participation through prayer and financial giving,
My biggest smile
And my assured commitment to His service