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