Friday, March 30, 2012

Whoever welcome these little ones

On our early days here, we didn't plan to focus on children ministry. But God had other plans for us. He was the one who lead  us into this and we are grateful for the privilege. We are here to serve our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. We were encouraged to know that the Lord says that every good thing we do for these children, we do it for Him.
"He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them. “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” [Mark 9:36-37)
Once again, we want to thank all our friends and partners who believe in us and what we are doing.Here are the few highlights of what happened this month and  will happened next month with its accompanying prayer concerns.

Teaching teachers

Narlin had finished teaching conversational English at Tesaban 1 Watpoweehan  School. They will have their final test on Friday. We are thankful to the Lord for this rare opportunity to teach the teachers and develop friendship with them in the process. It was indeed a wonderful experience.We will be spending the last day of the class in a buffet (eat all you can) restaurant as the school is treating us. Thank you so much for your prayers. If you or anybody you know wants to minister here through teaching English, you are welcome to join us.

Sam Rong Gets Better

After an emotional struggle to prevent Sam Rong from being taken to the remote place in Burma, we are happy to announce that he is responding well with medication. He is now playing with the other children and has been a laughing a lot. He is even helping in some household chores. We are expecting that the medication will be totally stopped and he will be totally healed until June. Our God is the Lord who heals.It seems that Sam Rong will be staying with us for good. It's wonderful to think that after several changes in the number of the children we adopted, we are back with 12 of them. Thank you so much for your prayers for these children.

Tina, Ayung and Mike Graduate

We watched our kids went up the stage to receive their certificates. From afar because parents were not allowed to get near the stage and take photos. We couldn't believe that we were sitting among the proud parents of the graduating kinder pupils of the municipal school. It was a wonderful experience.

The graduates with Narlin and teacher 

Three pupils were selected to deliver the graduation speech in three languages--Chinese, English and Thai in that order. Tina spoke almost perfect English. After the speech, the head teacher of the kindergarten, announced that Narlin is teaching English at the school and we have an orphanage where Tina came from. Thank you for your prayers and support for the children education.

Learning and Ministry Resource Center

We had been driving around Mae Sai looking for an appropriate and affordable house for teaching and discipleship. It proved to be an impossible task. We were about to give up the search (we had been looking for three months.) Until a friend told us in passing that an OMF rented house will become available in September.It is God's answered to our prayers. We talked with the tenant and she told us that she will pass the house to us and we might be able to use it for accomodating teams this April even though the contract will expire until September. Praise the Lord!

Tentative Activities this Summer

Please help us in prayer for the summer activities with the help of team coming from the Philippines. Please help us in prayer for the summer activities with the help of team coming from the Philippines.

  • Easter Sunrise Service for International Community
  • English camp in Mae Sai Pantamit Tribal Church.
  • English (DVBS) and music camps in Tachilek, Myanmar
  • English camp and music clinic in Emmanuel Church in Ban Chong.
  • Teach in Song Kran Bible Camp in Mae Sai Grace Church
  • Music Theory Class in Mae Sai and Tachilek.
  • English, Music, Piano and Guitar lessons in our house for our kids for a month.
  • Opening of Learning and Ministry Resource Center.

More Prayer Concerns

Thank you for your untiring prayers. Listed below are our praises, thanksgiving and concerns.
  • We praise and thank the Lord for Displaced Orphans International (DOI) Foundation for the facilitation of receiving support in our behalf in the US (tax exempt). They are a big blessing to us.
  • We are thankful for God's answering our prayers with regards to Nanay Linda's (Narlin's mom) healing. She is in the Philippines now. She has problem with blood circulation in her feet extremeties that the doctor thought that amputation is the only option. However, after getting second opinion it is good to know that other treatment is probable.
  • Pray for Jared as he will go home in May to go to college. He will go home with my sister Dadai. Pray that his transition to the life in the Philippines and his adjustments to college will go smoothly. Pray also for Jillian and Reuven's studies.
  • Pray for provision as the time for paying our house's one-year rent has come. Moreover, the extension of our one-year work permit and visa is also fast approaching. God
Our God is an awesome God and we thank Him for giving us awesome friends like you. We sincerely appreciate your love and prayers. Until next update.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A quick trip to Mae Salong

The school closed last week. This makes us happy and not happy at the same time. We were happy because the children did well at the school. They passed the exams and did all their requirements. We did not need to worry about additional school works for them during vacation. Not so glad because unlike many of us, the school closing does not offer us any respite. It means the children will be with us 24/7 and when they are together, with their full energy accumulated together it will be a total chaos. So we are bracing ourselves for another crazy summer.
We are member of a Network that addresses the problem of exploitation of women and children in Northern Thailand. The organization is trying to stop child and human trafficking. We were invited to attend their meetings two years ago and since then they considered us one of their own. Although we could not understand what they the discussions are all about, they like us to be there every time they have a meeting. The Network has been very helpful to us in providing needed documents for the children.

Last Monday, they told us we had a meeting in Mae Salong. It is one of the beautiful places in Northern Thailand. Actually, the meeting was in Thod Thai, just a few meters from the boundary of Mae Salong. The mountains are stunningly beautiful. Even with the presence of thick haze, the view is still beautiful. After the meeting, we had our lunch in one of those eating places. THe menu were all Chinese. By the way, Mae Salong is one of the towns where Chinese is the first language and Thai is the second. Except for Tai Yai and Akha people who are also living there.

khun sa.jpgWe were having our delicious lunch, when the vice-mayor (he was introduced to us as the second leader of the town) came. Surprisingly, he is also a Christian. After introductions and small pleasantries, he announced that the lunch was on him. The lunch was awesome especially when it was free.

Pastor Sunnit (the leader and he is considered by everybody considered as the founder of the Network) brought us to Khun Sa's army camp. He was considered to be the "opium king" and the leader of the Shan United Army and Mong Tai army. He was considered a local folk hero in this place. His interesting story can be read here.

The trip back to Mae Sai took two hours. The road is long, mountainous and winding. I didn't want to drive too fast.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Great Christians We Should Know: Antony of Egypt (356 AD)

saint-anthony-the-abbot-00.jpgAntony was born on the southern borders of Egypt 230 A.D. and lived to the age of 105. When he was 18 yeas old his parents died and, upon hearing hearing in the church the words of Jesus, "If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell all that thou hast" (Matt. 19:31), he obeyed the command literally. Renouncing the world, he went live as a hermit in a lonely place in an empty tomb. There he faced many temptations and wrestled with et forces of evil. When he was 35 he retired to a more desolate spot on a mountain and spent twenty years there "without seeing the face of man."

Gradually, however, as his fame grew, disciples gathered around him and he moved to a less isolated place near the Red Sea, where he spent the rest of his life. He gained a reputation also through healing many sick people who came to him. On two occasions he went in to Alexandria, once to encourage the Christians under persecution. and once to preach against the Arians.

Though Anthony was not the first Christian hermit, he exercised such a tremendous influence that he is usually regarded as the founder of that great factor in the history of the Christian Church, the monastic movement. Not everyone is called to a life of enunciation like Antony; it is a matter of vocation. But his example reminds us that each one of us should consider whether it is his or her vocation: "Is God calling me to a life of celibacy, poverty and devotion?"

There is, certainly a need and room for this kind of vocation among the members of our own church. Let us pray that those whom God does call to this way of life may have the grace to hear and obey his voice, whatever the cost.

Source: Great Christians Commemorated by the Indian Church by R.W. Bryan

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rain and hail


Narlin and I were on the truck. While driving I looked at the side mirrors and noticed that the sky behind us was very dark while the horizon in front of us was still relatively bright. Then the wind started to blow, gently at first and eventually became violently strong. The road that were usually clean were instantly covered with leaves and tree branches. It was scary. People were running on the road and the shops were closing.

We noticed the changes in the weather a week ago. Before last week, it was usually cold most of the day except when you were out under the sun at noon time. The temperature drastically changed to hot and humid. This is also the time of the year when the mountains caught fire because the farmers are burning the rice fields.

The smoke from the mountain combined with the dust from the on-going building constructions around are forming thick dark haze that hang on the sky. It has been there for almost a month. So we were actually for the rain to fall but not the hail. The rain and consewuently the hail fell down quickly. Inside the truck, the dropping ice hit the roof and windshield sounded deafeningly loud. We were afraid that the ice would dent the car and break the windshield. But fortunately, the ice balls were not big enough to do any damage and it stopped as quickly it had started.

The rain was good but not long enough to wash away the haze. Nonetheless, it is washed away some of haze and it is good for us. We are praying for more rain to come sooner so that we can enjoy fresh and clean air onec again.

Lord we are praying for more rain. As you reminds us from your word in Zechariah 10:1 that we should "ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone." Thank you Lord rain. Sometimes we take it for granted but we believe you send rain to remind us that you're the one who gives life and sustains it. Thank you for your love.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Real Faith (James 2:14-26)


Everybody who comes to Thailand will notice the presence of  fake products. Thailand is one of the  countries in the world that  allows fake products. It never stop to amaze me how imitations look like the real deal. There are fakes of everything. Fake Ipad, Iphone, shirts, shoes. There are even fake watches and pens. Sometimes, I even think there are fake churches and even fake Christians.

This is what James talks about in this passage. He argues about the case of true faith against fake faith. There are a lot of people who think they are have real faith, they think that they are Christians. We may not be aware of it, but we may our faith may not be real.

In the verses, James discusses the difference between having real faith and having false faith in Christ. The Bible tells us what it means to have real faith. Let’s go ahead now and focus in on the book of James. Let’s look at five facts about faith:

Real Faith is Works It is Not Just About Talking (2:14)
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” James 2:14 (NKJV) Real faith is all about works while fake faith is all about talk.

In this verse, it does not say that a person has faith. The verse talks about claiming he has faith. A person who says he has faith can talk about faith very impressively. In other words, he may know to use the right words, the right sentences. He may know the Bible and perhaps discussed about Christian doctrines. But it does not prove that he has faith.

In our situation here in Thailand, where Christians are a minority, we tend to easily call people Christians. If they talk about Christianity, and claim to be Christian or sound like a believer we right away call them Christian.

However, we know better than that, for the Bible says that:

"Not everyone who says to Me, ’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 7:21 (NKJV)

Not everyone who has fish on their truck is a believer. Not every who wears a Christian T-shirt knows Christ as their savior. Not everyone who sings Christian song is a Christian. Not everyone who profess Christ does not mean he possess Christ.

As the saying goes, "talk is cheap." If we say we have accepted Christ as our savior but there are no changes in our lives. There are no evidences that Christ lives in us. We need to be seriously concerned. Real faith is not just something we talk about. It is not about what we say. It is something you live. It involves your life not just your lifestyle.

Real Faith Acts It Is Not Just About Feeling (2:15-16)
Real faith is more than emotions. Many Christians confuse emotional high with the work of the Holy Spirit. Although, we believe that when the Holy Spirit is working we all get excited. But being emotionally hight does not necessarily mean that the Holy Spirit is working.

We can go to the church, sing loudly, shout amen, pray at the top of our voices but it may not mean that it is the work of God. The Bible tells us that real faith is more than the way we feel. James gives us the practical advice:

"If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” James 2:15-16 (NKJV)

We are part of this church. God put us here for a purpose. I think one of the reasons is that there are many people in this church and around us that have needs. Many of us feel about the situation that our brother and sister in Christ are in, but if we do nothing, what good does it do? Real faith takes the initiative and does anything within our capacity to help. A real believer has a faith that is practical. It gets involved with people. When we become part of God's family, we have family responsibilities. Real believers care about real people.

First John chapter three verse seventeen tells us:

“If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.”
1 John 3:17 (MSG)

Real faith gives. Real faith is generous. Real faith can be counted on in a crisis. Real faith is not just talking the talk – it’s walking the walk. Faith is more than feeling sorry for someone – it’s doing something about it.

Real Faith Shows It is Not Just About Thinking (2:18)
For some people faith is something to think about. A matter to be studied, debated and discussed about. James understand this when he says:

“But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:18 (NKJV)

To understand this verse, we need to imagine two people get together. The one says, "I have faith." The other says, "I have faith too." Then they argue who has the real faith. Then the other says, "show me your faith." I bet he could not show it. The other guy says, "I show you my faith, you can see it through the works I do."

Underline the words "show me." James is saying, you cannot show your faith without works. Faith without works is fake. It is only through works that we can show faith. Real faith is to be seen in our actions. The evidence of faith is works. We can prove our faith to anybody by those who has affected by the things I do for Christ.

If you think you have real faith. If you claim to be a real Christian, people will see it. Real faith is visible. James says that – “I will show you I have faith – by what I do!”

“Faith without works is dead.” James 2:17 (BBE)

Faith in Christ - changes things. If you have faith – it is active – it does something. Faith is not just a though process – it causes action. But that’s not all:

Real Faith Commits Not Just About Believing (James 2:19)
Look at what James chapter two verse nineteen tells us:

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!” James 2:19 (NKJV)

Believing in God does not make us a Christian. There are many people who believe in God and some of them can even quote the some verses. They can even recite the Lord's Prayer by memory. They can even talk about doctrine. Sounds good. But James says even the devil can do th same. He believes.

Real faith involves committing yourself completely to Christ. We are Christian because we believe and trust in Jesus. It is more than head knowledge. It's heart knowledge. We understand that Jesus came and died for my sins, that's head knowledge. But we trust that Jesus came and died for sin, that's heart knowledge. We commit our lives to Jesus.

Many people today will tell us that they believe in Jesus. But if they don't go to the church to worship with other believers, if they don't help other people, don't follow the teachings of the Bible in their daily lives, if they don't practice Christian living. Perhaps we can say that their faith is not real.

Real faith is what we do. Faith is not passive – it’s active. Faith is not just a comment – it’s a commitment. James gives a powerful example of faith in action. Our faith is not determined by what we do – it is demonstrated by what we do. The challenge for us this morning is let us examine ourselves and test our faith. Second Corinthians chapter thirteen and verse five in the Message Bible says:

“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 (MSG)

Ask yourself, Do i have real faith? In the light of the passage we read, ask the question. Am I really a Christian? Do I this kind of faith that the Bible talks about? Is my life different from other unbelievers? Is my life showing evidence that Christ is in my life?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sam Rong: The boy who misses his brother


Sam Rong is Tilek's brother. When we first saw him in the English camp (people are now calling it DVBS) three years ago, he really looked like Tilek. We learned that Tilek and Sam Rong have another brother in another orphanage in Kengtung. Their parents died of a motorcycle accident in Chiang Rai three years ago. For some reasons, the three of them ended up seperated living in different orphanages in Mae Sai, Tachilek and Kengtung.

The owner of the orphanage (we'll just call her Sayarma) in Tachilek brought Sam Rong to Mae Sai because he was sick. She claimed that the doctor had seen him twice and he was treated for a common flu. However, he was not getting better at all. She told us that he was crying all the time and wanted to see his mother and brothers. Maybe, she thought, that his sickness was nothing but emotional and seeing his brother would make him feel better. So we met him to bring him home to see his brother. However, when we saw him, our hearts melted. His sickness did not look like a flu at all. He was very sick. He was literally skins and bones.

We brought him right away to our friend doctor. When he saw Sam Rong, he advised us to bring him to the hospital without delay, we could not afford to wait. It was a matter of life and death. At the hospital, he was diagnosed with chronic and severe case of TB. After several tests and x-ray, he was immediately confined in the isolation room. He stayed there for two weeks. We visited him every day and we lcame to know more about him and his family background. His parents were on their second or third marriages when he, Tilek and their brother were born. They have many step and half brothers/sisters. The brother and sister who visited him at the hospital were not related at all. The family background was so confusing that we think it was better not to talk about it anymore.

Anyway, after two weeks at the hospital he was released by the doctor but his medication continues. He seems to be recovering well until last week he was turning yellow. The medications was causing complications to his liver. He might have had hepatitis before and the medicines he was taking made his liver so weak. The doctor didn't know for sure.

Yesterday, Syarma came and told us that she would take Sam Rong to the village in the jungle (her word). She frankly told us that she did not have the capacity to take care of Sam Rong anymore. Whether she meant it financially or emotionally, we did not know for sure. But she had decided to do it without asking for our opinion. She knew we were strongly opposed to her plan. Bringing Sam Rong to the village was just like signing his death warrant. We do not want to ba part of it. We already helped him and we intend to help him all the way.

Sam Rong is now staying with us, in our home. We know his disease is contagious and we need to be extra careful so that the other children will not be infected. We will take care of him until he will be completely healed and he can decide if he wants to stay or go back to Tachilek. Please help us in prayer for Sam Rong's fast recovery and complete healing.

Missiology as theology

For those of us who still think that we can do mission without theology. We should think again. Luzbetak argues that most mission theorists consider missiology to be basically theological. Schliermacher considers all study of mission as a form of pastoral theology. Although today there is no agreement as to how missiology fits into an overall scheme of theology, it is a fact that theology will always occupy the central place and will always play the determining role. He argues that the object of missiology must repeatedly be examined, tested and re-tested, not so much in the light of human wisdom but in terms of how God understands mission. The most important themes in mission are what God regards as genuine salvation activities and what God means by the "kingdom of God."

Thus, "theology is the real acid test inmission and holds the place of honor among the disciplines involved. All other fields, including anthropology, are essentially supportive in nature and have a cross-fertilizing, expanding, strenghtening, and integrating function. In a word, the other fields are essential, but they are supplementary dimensions of a basically theological field."

Although we do not like theology (or even mentioned the word), we can not deny that theology is central in doing mission. If anybody claims that they can do mission or any of its activities, they need to do serious thinking because mission without theology is impossible.

The Church and Cultures: New Perspectives on Missiological Anthropology by Louis J. Luzbetak, p. 14.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

AiPang:The Little Boy in a Big Man's Body

AiPang.jpgMy sister Nori, wrote this story when she was here last year. AiPang's uncle came early that year and brought him to Myanmar. We don't like the idea of the children going home to their relatives during school break. It is just not right. They had literally abandoned the children and gave them up to us. But they still want them to work for them. We gave them an ultimatum, if any of the relatives would take any children from us, they should take care of them and they should not return them to us anymore. We asked AiPang if he wanted to return to Myanmar. With big hesitation, he said "yes." We cried our tears and let him go, expecting that we will not see him again. Here is a story of how we were able to take him back.

Wanting to see a proof of child labor? Look at Ai Pang's muscles. His biceps and triceps are so visible when ever he moves his arms. When new visitors or missionaries come, that is how we introduce him. Ai Pang show your muscles, and he will just make some little stretching here and there... His abs are in layers.

Ai Pang is ten years old. He can tell stories -- especially how his mother died in the field while working. He can share how for three days, his father could not stop crying over the dead body of his loving wife. According to the story, Ai Pang's mom complained of stomach pains and headache. She also had fever... possibilities? appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, infection, (?????) but no one knows since she never had the chance to see a doctor. Although Ai Pang's father pleaded her to stay home, the mother continued to work in the field and when she failed to come home at an appointed time, they went to the farm to see her dead. How can Ai Pang live the rest of his life with such a story to tell and re-tell about his loving mother who wanted to help her husband provide a good life for their family.

Ai Pang is also a hard worker and he too worked in the field during school breaks. Last year, he went home to help in the farm and when Narlin and her team held an English camp on the other side, she saw Ai Pang-- thin, very dark, and would not even look straight at her. I saw Narlin's misty eyes... "Ai Pang, come back home with Nanay, now!" She immediately talk with Sayarma Angela and said, "I will bring Ai Pang back home... i do not like the way he looks. This is the reason why I do not want to let him to go back to his family. They make him work hard. I want to take care of him and see the sparkle in his eyes again... i do not see it now. He looked sick." All of them work hard in the family. All the children work with their parents in order to survive. Sayarma Angela made some arrangements and promised Narlin, she will bring back Ai Pang to Mae Sai as soon as possible.

Ai Pang loves sports. His muscles are well coordinated and strong. He likes climbing, tumbling, jumping, and other physical activities. He likes soccer and basketball. He can be trusted in doing his assigned household chores, arts and crafts, and also in massaging Nanay Narlin when she is having cramps or muscle pains. He also is responsible for feeding the guinea pigs and in cutting the grass. if we can only bring a child home, i want Ai Pang -- Ycoi will have someone to help him become physically active and not just sit in front of the computer ... but Ai Pang will have to stay.

Talking about intelligence, Ai Pang easily catches instructions and can remember things well. He can reason out well and can express himself in so many ways. When he is happy, his eyes twinkle and his dimples make him more handsome and cheerful. Ai Pang is a bundle of possibilities. I remember a song in the album "God's Project" that goes like "Only God can count the apple in a single seed, only he knows just how many there will be. All the possibilities are the treasures that He sees when He looks inside of me..." I am sure when God looks in Ai Pang's heart, he sees all those possibilities in this little boy. God has planted the seed... but some people will be sent by Him to water, to nurture, to care for, and to see the full fruition of the work He had started in Ai Pang.

Can you be one of those who will help see Ai Pang's possibilities come to reality. Adopt him in your prayer life. Reach out to him and pamper him with your loving prayers.

May God continue to see your own potentialities so that you can see what is in others...

Love for others

One of the requirements for a true spirituality for mission is a genuine love for others. This is clearly stated in Christ's second most important commandment which is to love your neighbors. This commandment demands selfless dedication to the needs of others. Love of neighbor is not something accessory to mission and is not primarily a kind of lure for winning converts; it is in fact, nothing less than a basic constitution of the very Kingdom that the Church wishes to extend through mission. According to this constitution, the Church as a community of love must not only believe its faith; it must do it. Christianity is by its very nature a faith of love, whose adherents are to be recognized by their Godlikeness that is reflected especially in their genuine care and active compassion for others.

The Church and Cultures: New Perspectives in Missiological Anthropology by Louis J. Luzbetak, p. 4.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Deep and living faith

One of the challenges of being a missionary is living what we are  preaching. We can proclaim to the people how to live by faith but if we  ourselves are not living by faith, then our teaching become questionable at least and false at most. It means our life will show what it mean to live by faith. It is believing God in every aspect of his life including trust in God's provision. It means following God whatever it cost. As I have observed, many Christian workers have left their ministries fearing that they need to work  to meet their financial needs. And we really could not blame them. We have been in the same situation. However, as our needs become bigger, God assures us that his provision is bigger than all we will ever need. As Luzbetak says:
Those engaged in mission must be, above all, individuals of deep, living faith, sincerely believing what they preach, with God as the very heart and center of their lives, the mainspring of their innermost selves. It is a basic theological assumption of the present approach to mission that every Christian, but especially those engaged in a ministry, must strive to be of “the mind f Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) to such an extent, in fact, that he or she can say with Paul, “for me 'life' means 'Christ' “ (Phil 1:21) and the “life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me” (Gal. 2:19f). To emphasize such personal theocentric oneness and wholeness is merely to re-echo the words of Jesus to the scribe who inquired about “the first of all Commandments” (Mk 12:28).
To illustrate his point Luzbetak tells a story that clearly tells us what it means to have God as the center of one's life. The story is about the response of the wise guru to the question of a young man who approached him.
“Master,” the young man asked, “when can I say that I truly love God?” Instead of giving direct answer, the guru signaled to two of his disciples, saying, “Give him the answer I gave ou when you asked me that very question. Yes, when can we say that we truly love God the way we should?” Compeletely bewildered, the inquirer allowed himself to be led by the two disciples to a nearby stream, where he was at once submerged and held under water for a very uncomfortable length of time. When finally released, the inquirer, coughing and sputtering, and wondering what all this meant, was brought back to the guru. “Now,” the guru solemnly said, “now you are ready for an answer to your question. tell me, my son, exactly what where were you thinking when you were held under water?” Still coughing and gasping for air, the young man half-smiling replied, “What could I have been thinking about, but about air, air, and more air?” The wise guru looked sympathetically at the young man and said, “Now you have answer your own question; you love God truly, the way you should love him, as soon as you seek God, and only God, the way you sought air and only air.”
This is what oneness with Christ through the Holy Spirit and completeness in the Father means. This is also what Paul meant when he said that life and Christ were synonymous. This is what it mean to love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And although this can only be achieved when we die, this must be the goal of every true follower of Christ, especially those who want to succeed in the ministry. Without this God-centeredness even the best programs, methods and movements applied to the ministry are nothing but an exercise in futility, a gimmick, and a sham.

The Church and Cultures: New Perspective in Missiological Anthropology by Louis J. Luzbetak, pp. 3-4

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Primacy of the Holy Spirit in MIssion

I was invited to attend a church planting consultation. I guess the main purpose of the meeting is to convince the local pastors, missionaries and church leaders regardless of denomination, organization, and whatever. However, the goal was not accomplished because most of the Pastors and church leaders did not stay to respond to the invitation. The presentation focused on the incredible accomplishments of the movement in Asian countries (some of them are statistically impossible).
I believe that church planting or mission for that matter is never truly a human accomplishment. And thus, we do not really need to brag about it. It is because it is accomplished by the Holy Spirit through his servants. As Luzbetak says:
The mission of the Church is essentially a spiritual activity--the work of the Holy Spirit. Effectiveness and true success in mission, we maintain, cannot be measured except in terms of the supernatural. Behind every human effort there must be the Power and Free Gift of God (the Holy Spirit and and his Grace). We wish, therefore, to emphasize and declare loudly and clearly, leaving no doubt behind whatsoever, that the scientific planning so strongly emphasized in our approach to mission is in no way meant to be a substitute for the Holy Spirit. Rather, we acknowledge the truth of the Lord's warning that "apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Without the Holy Spirit, the Church would be but a lifeless body, a corpse, and at best a "noisy gong, a clanging cymbal" (1 Cor. 13:1) and not the vibrant Church of the Acts of the Apostles. Not the scientific planning, however cleverly executed, ever force the Holy Spirit to act in any particular manner. (Lumen gentium, no 1-5; Gaudium et spes, no. 2) Such a task can be carried out only in and through the Spirit (Evangeli nuntiandi, no. 75).
The Church and Cultures: New Perspectives in Missiological Anthropology by Louis J. Luzbetak, S.V.D.