New to Refiner’s Fire? I encourage you to read the FORWARD.
Have you flown overseas? How about in an orange-colored full-range jet aircraft? Yes, “orange! I mean from Los Angeles to Seoul, South Korea on to Canton, China – all on Easter Sunday 1979. (Have you even flown that long? Neither had we.)
WOW! 19+ hours, Easter Sunday, 1979.
My habit of talking continually to the Triune God went into overdrive that day. This would be a long flight – and where was the bathroom?
Once again, God was pushing me out of my “safe place.”
I also recall Joe’s conversation with Open Doors executive vice president. After hanging up he immediately turned to me, telling me both of us were going to China, in about one month.
Wow! You mean I’m going with you? (What I really meant to say was, What about our three children? And… How can I possibly make it, traveling to that distant land?)
His cheerful reply, “I’m sure your parents would love to take care of the kids. Not only that, your sister and her husband won’t mind helping out.”
This would be different from the Cuba trip.
China had just opened to outsiders, the U.S. included.
We were bringing Bibles and other supplies, but not meeting Christians. That was disappointing, but still too dangerous for direct contact. Even casual contact with Christ-followers was not wise.
Our visit included a hotel overseer who watched all our comings and goings. He was authorized to visit our room, without knocking. It happened a couple of times, but thankfully always when we were fully dressed.
Duck eggs, toast and tea became our routine morning meal. Not that bad, though it was cooked the night before — trying to feed us what we ate at home.
With foreigners welcomed to China, we were subject to local projects. On the street one morning a man approached us, asking whether he could cut out a picture of me. Joe said yes. I was amazed what this man could do freehand with his scissors. (Joe wisely slipped him a little money.)
Late the next morning, tour leaders drove us to a commune, about twenty-five miles away. While the children flocked around us, the adults hung back. (After his years of working with inner-city children in the U.S., Joe loved having fun with the commune children).
The only public restrooms were long buildings inside which were holes separated by low walls where women held themselves up. Boys and girls followed we women into the bathroom. They stood leaning against the wall we faced, laughing at us, as we did our best to use their archaic bathroom.
God was doing more than nudging me, He was pushing me out of my safe place. He always provided the strength to keep me going no matter how I felt.
Later that day, strolling through a busy neighborhood, a group of college age kids approached us.
“Are you Americans? Can you teach us English?” Should we take a chance by answering with direct answers? Could it be a trap, not from students, but from government “plants” trying to catch us illegally proselytizing its college students.
Without question, we moved ahead. It’s why we were in China, responding to openings like this, from the Holy Spirit. They asked us questions, and we asked them several of our own. (see I Peter 3:15)
Then I remembered a book in my purse: Reese Howell Intercessor, by Norman Grubb. I pulled out the book, asking one student, “Would you like this English book to read?” Accepting the book, they were thrilled, asking me what it was about.
“It shares how God listens to us,” as this young man, and a dozen of his friends listened.
Another young man had an awakened look on his face. Pointing to me he spoke, “YOU want ME (placing his finger on his chest) to love your God. Without hesitation, I replied, “Yes! Jesus is real. And He loves you very much.”
Another student offered, “We use the Bible in class to learn English. Now we are reading about Job.”
“We have to keep moving,” a third student spoke nervously as he looked around. They took the book, thanked us and walked away. I wanted to chase after them to tell them more, but knew it could get them in trouble.
This was an amazing God Sighting. Almighty God put us together. And I have great hope, that one day we will all be together with our Heavenly Father. Oh what a day that will be.
My CHALLENGE to you —
Grab a cup of coffee … and imagine we are chatting.
When we walk through a painful time, it is easy to convince ourselves we are useless. Times like those easily leave us believing God won’t use us. But God grants us (1 Philippians:29) that we should walk through suffering because He loves us and has a purpose in it.
In the midst of our suffering, staying focused on the Triune God, brings glory to God. He enables the willing sufferer to minister to others.
My mother taught me how to look for opportunities, to serve God wherever He placed me. She also said, “You are never too old to minister.” Victim of a stroke, at eighty-three she couldn’t talk, paralyzed on one side of her body.
Initially, she was discouraged, no longer able to speak. Ironically, trained as a speech therapist, she specialized in working with stroke victims. She knew what to do, but was no longer able to do it. Following several attempts, she was also unable to print or write.
A woman from our home church, who lived in the same nursing home, approached my mom one day saying, “Edith you have always taught how Christians never retire, how there will always be a ministry for us. Today, there is a ministry for you and this is the place for you.” Simple words changed my mother’s attitude; bringing her back to her old self.
We visited her one day (a one-way, six hour drive!) and found her sitting in the hallway next to an Alzheimer’s patient, with her good hand gently laying on the patient’s arm.
She was a real prayer warrior so I’m sure she was praying for those individuals also.
“God never uses a person greatly until He has wounded him deeply.
The privilege He offers you is greater than the price you have to pay.
The privilege is greater than the price.”
Read here the amazing full story of Helen Roseveare If you are in the midst of suffering, or know someone who is, you will find helpful truth’s in her story. Be sure to read it to the end.
Day by Day sung by the Antrim Mennonite Choir, and written by Karolina W. Sandell-Berg in 1865, after her father fell from a ship and drowned.
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