Monday, December 31, 2007

Adoption Process

“…that we might receive the adoption of sons…” Galatians 4:5

Over the past several years I have experienced an unexpected blessing. Families across the United States adopting orphans in China from the Jinan Social Welfare Institute come across my website when they search for information on the organization. They also find photos I have posted over the years of our visits to the orphanage. In their excitement at the “found” information they send emails and ask for more insight into the place their future children are coming from. I have learned through their correspondence this “adoption process” can be long, expensive, and frustrating.

Shortly before I left for India in October, I was again contacted by an adoptive family. The children at the orphanage in Jinan are all disabled in some way and over the years I have watched them grow with little physical therapy or treatment for their various medical conditions. The child the family told me they were adopting was a girl severely burned, her face badly scarred and without fingers on either of her hands.

At first, the news that a family would adopt this girl (Fu Bing) astounded me. The future medical costs, trying to help her overcome the trauma through years of counseling all seemed too much for anyone to be willing to sign up for. Then through the ensuing correspondence of Fu Bing’s new mother, I could see an unexpected and touching example of our own Adopted Father’s love towards us:

“…We are so happy to be her Mommy and Daddy!!! I can’t wait until she feels like a part of our family. I have been sending care packages to her and other adoptive parents have taken things to her. I think what I would like for you to give her from us is the knowledge that we will be there soon to bring her home. I wonder, like many adoptive parents of older children, if she knows that we are doing everything we can to bring her home. I want her to know that I would leave on a plane today if I could. I want her to not wonder if we are coming. WE ARE and with bells on as the saying goes…”

The prayer I will be praying for you and for myself in 2008, is that we come into a fuller understanding of how happy our heavenly Father is to be called “Abba”. No matter how disfigured, unworthy, unlovely, unwanted, we feel about ourselves and our “inner” selves, we have a Father who continually sends us “care packages” through others and through His indwelling Spirit:

“Long before He laid down the earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving by the hand of His beloved Son….” Gal 5-8

I pray that through working together as ministry partners practicing “pure religion undefiled,” we can show many more thousands of orphans (real and spiritual) around the world, they have a Father, doing everything He can to “bring them home.” I pray through our visits, attention, outreach and humanitarian efforts, individuals know and experience, He is coming and He is reaching out to them with outstretched arms and an open heart. And I pray that we KNOW what we know.

Smiling as a favored child!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Returning Home

This is it!

I am finally on my way. Waiting in the Beijing airport that has changed considerably since the last time I was here just one year ago. The government is preparing for the flood of foreigners next year during the Olympics. Buildings and construction is going on everywhere. When I think of the manpower and the human efforts that have taken place to change to entire city of over 10 MILLION people it astounds me.

So much effort to "put on a good face" for the world, when 90% of the population looks for no world beyond this one!

Last night the last performance at the University was attended by over 300 freshman students. They were so receptive, understood all the English (even with my accent) and laughed hysterically at all the antics of a foreign "clown". But one girl in the audience captured my attention. She was sitting about three rows back right near the front and the whole time looked as though she was on the verge of breaking down into tears. I tried to direct my stories and message of hope to her, looking at her directly, touching her as often as I could, I wanted to say something to her after the performance but the students surrounded me for photos with their camera phones and the girl disappeared into the cold winter night. I prayed something she heard changed her despair and hopelessness into belief.

This time of year, many of the students are preparing for their exams. Here education is everything. Parents save their money virtually the entire life of their children, in hopes they will be educated and take care of them in their old age. If not - neither generation has hope. Many students here commit suicide in desperation and shame at disappointing their parents. I prayed this girl was not one of the statistics.

Little by little the world around us changes, whether it is in a foreign field or the person you ran into at the shopping mall and helped out. We DO make a difference. Your PRAYERS are significant. Your heart for seeing the lost come to the Kingdom are being heard.

We visited with the disabled orphans in Beijing and purchased high quality air cleaners for all of the bedrooms. The orphanage is located in an industrial area that must provide their own heating (coal) which is very bad for the lungs of the children. When the director told us the need he explained most of the children stay sick all winter long because of the air quality. Your contributions for this humanitarian relief will make a great impact in their overall condition this winter. New shoes were also purchased for all of the children and will be given to them Christmas day.

This trip has been a bountiful and ground-breaking harvest. Providing therapeutic equipment for the children with CP in Jinan, air quality for the orphans in Beijing, and special Christmas requested items for the orphans in Taian. You are practicing pure religion this season - by providing for orphans on the other side of the world.

Let's keep up the good work for 2008. The year of new beginnings. I can't wait to see what new and exciting places and faces HE is interested in sharing and showing us in the coming days.

You have been partakers in the bringing down of centuries old strongholds and the enemy does not take the battle lightly.

Remember - we are MORE than conquerors. We are riding in with Him - His name Emmanuel is our hope, our future, and our promise.

God with us
And we can be sure He is smiling!
Flying - in His service

Saturday, December 15, 2007

HIS-STORY part of History

Greetings from your "foreign correspondent" in Jinan.

This is my last night here at the hotel and perhaps my last email from China. Today we drove "over the river and through the woods" but we were not heading to "Granma's house". We arrived at the Taian orphanage amidst much fanfare and television crew and cameras.

You might remember this is the orphanage that last year celebrated their 90th anniversary, and I appeared there at the invitation of the Chinese government. The orphanage director and chairman escorted our party (of 14) to the main meeting room for a special presentation. Inside the building (separate from the orphanage) there are many signs explaining the history of the orphanage, with archival photos of the two Assembly of God missionaries who bought the land and established a house for orphans and widows in 1916. The missionaries put the land in perpetual trust and it can never be used for anything else.

When we went into the big meeting room, there were signs and boards (in Chinese) all along the walls. Many of the signs had photos of all the trips I had made over the past seven years to the orphanage, as well as photos from 2005 when we delivered wheelchairs to the elderly and disabled children. OUR MINISTRY is now a part of the incredible history of the orphanage.

The director and chairman, went into great detail about our friendship and how much these visits have meant to the children. Then they presented me with the best Christmas present I have ever received. It was a printed book, with CARE EE on the cover, and photos with the children throughout the years. But the best part about the book, was the handwritten notes the orphans (many who are now University students) had written in the book, some even in English, about how happy they were I was there during their "formative" years, and special for them to know they were loved during this time. WOW! What at blessing.

After the performance and the photos, the television crew interviewed me for the local Taian news station. They asked the "usual" question of "why" these children are important to me, and what has kept me coming back so many years. I answered with the boldness of the apostle Paul in chains - Jesus is the reason. As a Christian, the Bible instructs us this is the way to please the God we love and serve: visit widows and orphans in their distress. How could I not return? As I paused for the interpretation, my translator hesitated - but then he too - boldly proclaimed the message of Christ at Christ-mas. The best gift of all. There was not one "sound byte" they could use that did not "lift up the Name"! All words and sentences carried the message of hope and truth.

As many of you awake to read this I will be struggling to sleep and find peace my last night here. You might recall, after the mountain top experience in Taian last year, we returned to the campus and my friend was struck by the car. I confess since leaving Taian several hours ago, my "PTSD" has been rearing it's ugly head and the enemy is fighting to rob me of the joy of the day, the words of the orphans, the pleasure of my King with the fear of his attack.

PRAISE God that many of the children knew the name of Jesus and the story of His birth and life through the visits we have previously made as well as the many foreigners who have access to the orphanage through our goodwill visits.

PRAISE God that a work began 91 years ago remains to be harvested! His word does not return to Him void. The ground that was CLAIMED for the orphans and elderly remains sacred ground!

PRAISE God that we are part of HIS-story of the work going on in Taian and across China. History is being written in the hearts of children, and the world here is changing.

Thank you for all your encouragement, your faithful intercession, and your obedient participation practicing "pure religion undefiled"!

To God be the Glory - great things He has done, great things He will do - for true are His promises!

Shaken but still smiling

Thursday, December 13, 2007

O Come All Ye Faithful

Joyful and triumphant!

Our program is complete here in Jinan. We finished at the University seeing over 200 Doctoral and Master's Degree program students. Each session closed with a question and answer time. In every classroom, students would ask "Why do you go?" This question allows me to answer freely, issues of faith, belief in God, what God asks His followers to do (minister to widows and orphans) as well as speak of the Bible as the guide for a Christian's life.

Today, the Jinan television station interviewed me for their "documentary" on my work here in the city. Because the producer is a believer, she specifically directed the questions to provoke faith and belief in God as the answer. This documentary will be completed before Christmas and shown during the holiday. As with Sunday's televised performance, the potential audience is tremendous. Even one percent of the city is over 60,000 viewers! All hearing the message of hope, love, and truth, driven and inspired by the love of God.
Tomorrow we will travel to the Taian orphanage. It will be a great reunion, seeing the children (many now grown who return for the day to see me again) for the seventh consecutive year.

Sunday, I will leave for Beijing and have a performance in the orphanage on Monday and a large University performance (over 400) on Tuesday. It has been a full two weeks of harvest work, sowing, reaping and praying for the Lord to bring forth the fruit.

Keep up the prayers for the Harvest is HUGE and the workers are few but growing in numbers.

Smiling and farming in His service

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Murphy's Law vs. HIS Law

Murphy's Law: what can go wrong will go wrong.

This afternoon's scheduled performance had plenty of Murphy's at work. Up until 10:30 last night arrangements were being made, rescheduled and thoughts on what could and could not be said were the topic of every exchange. We arrived at the hotel and were escorted into a side room of banquet hall where the performance would be held. The program was originally scheduled to begin at 3:30 then changed to 2:30 then again another change to begin at 2 pm. We arrived around 1:30 to avoid the crowd seeing the "surprise" guest.

At 2, when the moderator had not arrived and the crowd outside (over 300 adults and children) was growing restless - we started making phone calls. "No the program starts at 3" replied the moderator who was home taking a NAP! Murphy started laughing somewhere in the background as he enjoyed our frustration.

The program finally got underway (at 3) with the children from the registered church singing Christmas songs to begin. I took the stage to much fanfare and media coverage. I felt like - Brittany Spears (not really) but a celebrity none the less. Film crews were following my walk through the crowds, the flash of cameras was blinding (sort of) and the crowd went wild. All of the messages in the performance were meant to focus on the TRUTH of Christmas, the message of hope, the real gift of Jesus. My interpreter, kept failing at a loss for words, and we would have to stop and repeat, and stop and repeat. Murphy apparently fumbles vocabulary with words as common as "boat" and "box".

The children in the front rows kept rushing the stage every time I would reach for something in my bag (apparently thinking I would bring out some gifts). And we would have to stop and wait until they were corralled back to their seats.

But Murphy's Law is not His Law.

The TRUTH was presented clearly. The Gospel message was given in full. There were three television stations as well as several of the provincial newspapers taking pictures and writing about the Big Story. The Name above all names was repeated over and over. Even the children from the Sunday School were shouting out the name of Jesus (all captured on film and broadcast for the television stations).

In spite of all the mishaps, mistakes, and miscommunications of the event. The promise of the Word remains - it does NOT RETURN TO HIM VOID. As we were leaving the building (having escaped the throngs of people) and calculating the "math" of the message broadcast across the region today, we rejoiced. Even if only TEN PERCENT (10%) of the people of the city of Jinan hear the message of the truth of Christmas, the birth of Christ - it is 600,000 people! Even if only ONE PERCENT (1%) of the people of the CITY (but the news is broadcast over the region (92,000,000) respond and ask questions or show up and make inquires at a registered church - that is 60,000 people!

Not bad for a Sunday afternoon in China!

PRAISE for HIS-STORY was told tonight here in Jinan - the gates of Hell have not prevailed!

Laughing and smiling right back at old Murphy
For I am in His service

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Going Public!

We have a story to tell, we have a job to accomplish and we have been sent in behind the lines into dangerous territory. The registered church here has arranged to have a "Public" performance in a hotel tomorrow with every form of media present and every local TV station represented. There will be over 300 in the live audience, many hearing the real meaning of Christmas for the first time. Not only with the 300 people present "hear" but portions of the show will be broadcast all over the province (92 million) as well as the city (close to 6 million). Now of course of with all those big big numbers not everyone has a TV or an opportunity. But even if only ten percent of the population of the CITY (the capital) watch the program (for their children's sake") that is still 600,000 people!

Many adults will be bringing their children to the performance but for the first time they will be exposed to a "message" of hope, truth, and love.

Pray for the translator to communicate without fear and for me to speak with discernment but not hold back His story to make HISTORY here in Jinan.

Today was my fifth year to visit the disabled children's home in Jinan. Many of the children have grown so tall, they all were so excited to see me again (last year my visit was canceled after the accident) We sang together, took photos, and they heard the story of CHRISTmas with the help of an old fashioned flannel graph.

I will close with a letter from an American family who adopted a little girl from the orphanage over a year ago. They contacted me via the Internet before the adoption while I was in Sri Lanka when they found their little darling girl's picture on my website. Their message brought to mind HIS promise "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." His plan for every person (orphans or not) is for us to know His love. Our future and only hope was once surrounded by shepherds and animals, lying in a manger. He did not come down a chimney or say "ho ho ho."

"Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and take them to heaven to live with Thee there."

Boldly smiling in His army

FROM Adopting family in New Jersey

We were so pleased to see you are once again visiting our daughter Ruby's orphanage in Jinan. Our prayers are with you, you seed sower. We have been home with Ruby just over 15 months and she has accepted our Lord Jesus as her Savior. She is in the hospital this week recovering from surgery to enhance her speech due to cleft issues. She has been telling everyone how comes into her room about having Jesus in her heart and praying for her surgery. Keep sowing the seeds and His harvest shall be great.

Please let the Jinan SWI director know that FU SHAUNG YUE sends her love and misses them, that she is happy in America and prays for placement for all the children waiting.

God Bless You

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Son is Rising in the East

Last night as I drove the familiar streets through the University Campus, thoughts of last year's tragic accident came flooding into my mind. I was tired and flight weary, the dark of the night, the cold of the winter wind, and the memory of crouching over my badly injured friend unsettled me.

So much of China, and the activities here are very familiar. But just as I think they are familiar and I know the "program" something new, challenging and faith building occurs. With all that has happened in the past year I nervously prepare for what I cannot be prepared for. As much as people ask me "how can you do it" my answer remains unchanged "I surrender." There are no guarantees for what will happen in the days ahead, but to each and every opportunity and occurrence I say "I surrender all": health, home, happiness, position, wealth, companionship, and comfort.

This time of year is a great time to be reminded why we are are asked and must be willing to surrender. Just think of our King's surrender: Health - He endured human flesh, hunger, sickness, heat, cold, thirst, and walking from one place to the next. He gave up His home a place that cannot even be described in human terms to arrive in a manger and live without a roof over His head as a wanderer. He gave up His happiness and complete fulfillment to see how humans struggle, He wept! He gave up His position as supreme authority over all to endure the indignity, on trial, accused, spit upon, beaten without reason. He gave up His wealth and ownership over all creation to have no possessions, traveling from place to place dependent on the generosity of others to supply His need, He did not have a heavenly bank account He could draw on for meeting His daily needs. He gave up the companionship of the Father, the intimate contact with Him to walk with us, become God with us, so we could enjoy the future with Him as One. There was nothing comfortable about the life of a carpenter in first century Israel. There were no "spa" moments or retreats - there was life lived one day at a time.

His example, His birth into our lives, His hope of our future - must keep us marching and serving, and singing all the way.

As I read through the responses to my "Arrival in Beijing", my heart was filled with knowledge of the "Body" of Christ responding and ACTING on behalf of the lost. Fighting to get through the "lines" and "strongholds" that hold a nation in darkness.

Arise and shine - a Light has come into this world - and His name is WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, ALMIGHTY GOD, the EVERLASTING FATHER, the PRINCE OF PEACE!

We are rising up for the battles that lie ahead. We are more than conquerors!

Smiling, armed and dangerous in His service

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Arrival in Beijing

Yours, mine and our prayers have been answered. I am in the domestic terminal of the Beijing airport and all my bags are checked through to my next flight to Jinan - NO CHARGE! The men behind the counter kind of shook their heads at the luggage, but my "sky cap" negotiated and they went right on through.

I had the opportunity to sit next to a Chinese man flying home to be with his dying mother. He was eager to engage me in conversation and told me many stories of his mother's tragic and dismal life when she was a child. I got a good history lesson through her life and times as well as a spiritual one. Through the whole discourse of his sharing all that had happened, he related how his mother had horrible life and now she was dying. I kept praying for an opportunity to ask about faith issues, but did not have the discernment to go ahead and do so. It appeared he just needed someone to share the oncoming grief, the life, and his loss and what to do with that.

It made me terribly sad for the millions who die without hope, without the promise of a future. Living a life of a series of good times and tragedies to overcome with stoic indifference. A life without a Savior is a tragedy indeed.

Praise God for giving me the opportunity for the last seven years to come and share the Life, the Hope, the Way, the Truth, and His love to hundreds of University students and orphans. It is a testimony there is more so much more than what we see.

It's Christmas time in the city, here, there and everywhere - go out and share what the REAL Christmas story means to you.

I'll be sharing here.

Smiling, tired and flying on