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Archive for the ‘China’ Category

I received an e-mail today from Shepherd’s Field, a Christian orphanage in China. It is a truly special place that cares for special needs orphans. We know a couple here in Memphis who have adopted a child from this orphanage. The e-mail had this picture of their children

They also had a this artwork from one of the children, with the question: What if the next Picasso lives in an orphanage?

We have experienced this question firsthand, as we have watched our daughter Mae (5, adopted from China) grow up. We have have often wondered what we and the world would have missed out on if she had grown up without a family. I don’t think they meant to make any sort of theological statement with the question, and I am 100% sure that they not only agree with I’m about to say, but they have literally given there lives for it. The question is a dangerous one, because these children do not have value only because they might grow up to be a great artist, or cure cancer, or whatever other wonderful thing they may do.  They have value because they are made in the image of God. Shepherds Field is built on this truth: Psalm 139:14- “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

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Awaiting Kate

I mentioned in my last post that I have had several things lately that were quiet reminders that God is at work all around us. One of these has been watching our good friends Sean and Sally Powell adopt their second child, Kate, from China (see their blog here). Their oldest daughter, Caroline, and our daughter, Mae, are both adopted from China and are best friends. It has been a treat to hope and anticipate with them over the last couple of years. A couple of weeks ago, they brought Kate home. Kate was considered a “waiting child” due to a cleft lip. In China they traveled with other families who were adopting “waiting children”- a 13 yr old whose chance at a family would end if not adopted before her 14th birthday, one child who is blind, one in a wheelchair. Stories we would never have known without hearing them as parts of the Powells’ story. And then to see Kate light up when Sean walked through the door coming home from work. A month before she was in an orphanage, and now she was running to her father in her new home.  

The picture (taken in China) below says it all

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I’m reading a book by Rob Gifford called “China Road”. In it he recounts a conversation with the host of a Shanghai radio call-in show. She was discussing with him the dramatic social changes in China over the last 20 years. Her comments could just have easily been about the U.S.:

“I think a lot of young people are simply confused by the change. They call up and say they are unhappy, but they can’t even articulate why. People, especially young people, are mishi le. They are lost. Lost. Why, after all that Mao did to ruin people’s lives, do you sometimes hear older people reminiscing fondly about the Maoist era? Because, despite the problems, there was still morality, and an ethical framework to life. There was right, and there was wrong. Now…what is right, and what is wrong? And people can’t keep up with the machines. The previous pace of life was too slow, for sure. But now it’s too fast. In traditional China, people were taught zenme zuo ren, how to be a person. In fact, we emphasized it too much. The morality, the rituals, the ethics. Now it isn’t emphasized enough. No one knows how to be a person anymore. We are training technicians. We are not training people.”

Peggy Noonan wrote something similar in her recent column “We Pay Them to Be Rude to Us”:

“At the same time we were shifting, in the past 30 years, to the more personal economy of service, we were witnessing and took part in a revolution in manners. We tore them down as too fancy, or sexist, or ageist, or revealing of class biases. Just when we needed more than ever the formality and agreed-upon rules of manners to act as guard rails, we threw them aside. And now no one knows how to act anymore.”

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I recently read David Platt’s book Radical. In the beginning of the book he recounts his experience teaching the Bible to a group of believers in an Asian underground house church. He talked about how despite less than ideal conditions- they met in a crowded, sparse, poorly lit room with no amenities- they went for almost two weeks for hours on end, listening to him teach. It reminded me of a story in the book Three Cups Of Tea, a book by Greg Mortensen that recounts his experiences building schools in rural Pakistan. In one of the villages, a regional political/religious leader told the village chief they could not buils the school. After some discussion, he agreed to allow the school to be built if the village would pay a “fine”. The cost would be about half the wealth  of the village (this was a very poor village). Mortensen was outraged, but the chief quickly agreed. The chief explained later that his most prized possesion was a beautiful copy of the Koran, but that he was unable to read it. He said that while the wealth would not last for long, it was a small price to pay for his children being able to read what he believed to be God’s word for themselves. I pray that we will desire the true Word of God with this kind of hunger.

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Here is a excerpt of an e-mail I got from a missionary in Asia:

  One friend travelled to a very remote region and entered one of the Buddhist temples.  Overcome by the atmosphere of emptiness and futility, he said that no Christian had ever been there before.  Just then, one of the Buddhist monks passed by carrying a Coke and, underneath his long flowing orange robe, he was wearing Nike sneakers! Our friend felt a great sense of sadness, realizing that Coke and Nike had gotten there before Christ’s messengers had. Our region has over 400 people groups, and 97% of them have never had a Christian among them to share the Gospel.  That’s a lot of places to reach before Coke and Nike do!

I’m not sure what the significance of this is, but I know it to be true. I have been to rural northeastern China and remote parts of Romania and the Czech Republic and Coke is there. Grace went to rural Zambia and it was there also. We went to Egypt and found that if you are looking at the Sphinx, you can do a 180 and be staring at a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Maybe it just means that everywhere and everyone is accessible if we want to go there bad enough.

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Lenten silence

Five years ago I went with a short term mission team to northeastern China.  One of the nights we were blessed to have the opportunity to worship with a small deaf-mute congregation. We “listened” to the sermon as it was translated from sign language to Korean to Chinese to English. At one point, the pastor directed his signs/comments to us. He said that he felt sorry for us that we were not deaf! Because he could not hear the noise and distractions of the world around him, he said he had an advantage over us. He was better able to listen for and hear the voice of God. During Lent, we intentionally deprive ourselves of some things so that we can better devote ourselves to God. As we are literally drenched in noise all day long, both aural and visual, we will have to intentionally unplug to find stillness and silence. Choosing silence is always difficult for us, but we need to choose it if we are going to hear Him.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

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