Matt Chandler in his book To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain writes these words.
“Gospel courage comes from gospel preciousness. If we truly believed that our reward in heaven far surpasses all the comfort and convenience and collections of the world, we, too, would be willing to consider them all as loss.”
When the gospel is fully embraced & lived, it will inevitably change & refine what we value & consider precious. In other words, what we get excited about will change because the gospel helps us see beyond aesthetics & what’s in front of us.
The things of this world will crumble. Some slower than others, but none can stand the test of time. I have always taught my former congregations that the only thing that will last forever, apart from God & His truth, are relationships. Our relationship with God & relationships established in Christ. Honest and caring relationships cannot be touched or spoiled. It was to bring this peace with God & peace with our fellowmen that Christ shed His precious blood. For this very reason the rest of our lives will be spent on pursuing, investing & nurturing relationships. Jesus sums up how we are to live & then explains why in Matthew 22:37-40, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart… Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We are continuing to make new relationships with the people around us which fills our hearts with joy! Our apartment complex is about 24 buildings, 12 stories each, with 4 homes on one floor. Because it’s a huge community, we don’t remember everyone we say hello to but are finding out that more people know about us than we realize. We were referred to as Pastor Kim or the Korean family from people we haven’t told those things about us to. How fast word gets around!
Our daughters started at their new school and are already making new friends. It is our prayer that their relationship with the Lord will continue to deepen as well. Jeanette & I also started at a language school. We go there twice a week to continue our studies in Mandarin. 1 of the 2 days is focused on church/gospel language. Our effectiveness in building relationships rests on how well we can communicate & connect with people here. We look forward to the day when the local people will see us as just a friend and not as an outsider.
Last week, we joined a missionary prayer group comprised of various mission groups ministering in our greater Kaohsiung area. We were surprised to discover how small a group we have here, which affirmed our move down to Kaohsiung even more. It was encouraging to meet other missionaries who are running the same race as us. It was interesting to hear the different approaches in mission work and their experiences. We talked about how we can work together and support one another. The time we spent was truly precious.
Another day last week, we (our leaders & us) drove an hour down to a place called Donggang where there is another OMF team. Together we read the Bible, sang praises, shared, prayed & encouraged one another. We ate the lunch that the host family prepared before parting ways. Acts 2:42 can best describe our time together, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” It was really nice to reunite and catch up with colleagues we hadn’t seen in a long time. We are so grateful for our brothers & sisters in Christ who have given up much to make Jesus Christ known here in Taiwan.
Last Saturday we invited people over to our new home for dinner. We had our OMF team leaders, a recent seminary grad visiting Taiwan & two Taiwanese families we got to work with at summer camp. Jeanette made a few Korean dishes which everyone seemed to enjoy though a couple dishes were a bit spicy. Thanks to a friend who sent us a care package from Korea, Jeanette was even able to make chapchae (Korean glass noodles). It was a hit with the adults and kids alike. Having our apartment filled with people & laughter gave us a piece of what we are praying for, and it reminded us once again why a relational approach to doing missions is so integral in what we are trying to do. We have 2 more years in our first term before we go back to the U.S. for one year home assignment. It is our hope & prayer that during that time many Taiwanese will become our brothers & sisters in Christ. How exciting & awesome that would be!