I just got an email from Pastor Takeshi in Japan. His home in Japan was damaged in the recent earthquake and then following that, they had a typhoon, but little damage from that. I don’t know how much damage there was but he reported that they were still living in the house. To complicate the matter further, he was gone during the events, on another mission trip to China. After he returned to Japan, he was traveling across Japan during the week and only home on weekends so he hasn’t been able to address the damage. When I met with him when we were in Japan I also noticed how involved in the work, his family was. His wife and oldest daughter were a tremendous support to him and were quite interested in our being there. I marvel at the sacrifice missionaries make in their service to the Lord. It causes me to look at my own life and answer the question, what is it costing me to serve the Lord?
He will be making two additional trips to China yet this year. They are usually about two or three weeks long and they travel to many churches as the need there is great. He also sent me an 11 page report from his translator who travels with him on his last trip. If you would like to read it just let me know and I can forward it on to you. The people in China are really struggling because of the living conditions and oppression and they need hope. The traditions are often demanding and the examples of how life can be are very rare. To make matters worse, there are a number of false religions that are turning the government against all religions as they do not know the difference between the true believers and the false ones.
So how many Christians are there in China? I have heard a number of reports and I don’t know how accurate they are. A few years ago I heard that there were several million Christians there. Then a little latter the number was 30-40 million. The next report I heard that the number was upward of 60 million. More recently I heard that the number was close to 100 million and the most recent report was that it could be approaching 300 million. I am not sure that anyone really knows how many there are, but this much I do know, most all of them are living in very difficult conditions and have little hope of anything more than that. Perhaps that is why so many are turning to Christ. He is the only one offering them more to life. If the government could only see that this is a tremendous opportunity for them to not only improve their lives but to also strengthen their nation and extend their favor with the people.
If the number of 300 million is close to accurate that would mean that one in 4 or 5 of the people in China are Christians which is a phenomenal number. Compare that to America where one in 50 to 100 are Christians. I remember reading about the Great Revival in America when, at its peak, one in seven were Christians and the amazing events that took place. Work stopped at times because of the presence of the Holy Spirit working with the people. Lives were transformed instantly. The story is told of a man in a buggy came under such conviction of his sin, just as he enter a county where revival was happening that he fell out of the buggy to his knees begging the Lord to save him. On and on it went and was so powerful that it transformed the nation. My prayer is that the Lord would do it again in China, and also here as well.
Things are starting to happen with the mission trip to China. The tickets are being purchased and it is starting to become a reality. The date of departure is set for October 24, 2018. Our first leg of the trip will be a non stop flight from DFW to Guangdong, China, which is near Hong Kong. From there I will take another flight to northern China where I will meet Forest and Yan and spend a few days with them.
As soon as I get the tickets and full schedule, I can then continue with my visa application which should take about two weeks after it is sent in.
Forest reported that they are working hard on the translation of my book and hopes to have it completed and printed by the time I get there. It will not be printed by a noted publisher but is will be something that I can bring back here and finalize it for our uses here. Hopefully, I can then make it available to Christians here that speak and read Chinese. This will be a milestone in the present ongoing work of the 4 language translations that are underway.
The translation in Japan took a hit recently when a portion of the translation was lost in a flood in Japan. I have 4 chapters that have been completed but it was a big loss of the work that had been done beyond that. They are regrouping and pressing forward with that work there.
There has been significant progress on the Russian translation and chapter 4 has just been completed. Joel has been more than faithful in his work and it is such a joy to see the Lord bless him through this process. I think he really has little awareness as to how God may use it. There are so many in this country who speak only Russian that it surprised me how needed it is. I can see the Lord working on many fronts.
The Spanish translation is moving forward as well but at a much slower pace. There have been much interference in family needs and prayer is needed there. Still the translation is on chapter 3 and moving forward.
As always, I solicit your prayers for this ministry and the safety and guidance of those who are sharing in this work.of translating. Your prayers are more needed than you know.
Today my wife and I went to the doctor to get the latest on her broken arm. The good news is that she is not scheduled for any surgery. She was taken out of the splint and put into a cast. The splint was full to the upper arm and the cast is only on the hand,wrist and lower arm, giving her a lot more mobility. She will be required to do some therapy for the next week or two and can discard the sling in a week or so.
So far, she has not been able to use her right arm at all and I have had to do a lot of her chores around the house, driving, etc. It has been devastating to my schedule and routine, but she is worth it, and more. You should have seen her coaching me to cook spaghetti and meat balls. I didn’t do a very good job but we got through it and I have an even greater appreciation for her contribution to our marriage. It has been good for me, though I hope it will never become necessary on a permanent basis.
I am thankful for those of you who have been praying for her. She is doing well and even pulled a prank on me (which she almost never does). She goes to bed before I do as I am in my study till late. As I came into the bedroom as quiet as I could, so as to not wake her, and slipped into the bathroom,and was closing the door carefully, so that the light wouldn’t wake her, she said BOO!, and touched me from behind. I didn’t know that she had gotten up and was right behind me in the bathroom and I thought she was asleep in bed. I jumped with a start, which I never do, and turned to find her laughing at me. You have to understand that it is rare that she ever gits me that way.
This afternoon I have a little time so I am doing a quick post about details. I am working on my message for the upcoming Senior Adult Bible Conference on August 5-8. I will be speaking on the 8th at 10:00 AM. I will be the next to last speaker for the conference. This will be the third year that I have been given the honor to speak at the conference. I always count it an honor to get to preach, and since I am not now the pastor of a church, I don’t get to preach that often so I am really looking forward to it.
Just a couple notes on the upcoming China mission trip. We will be leaving here on October 24 for a 10 day trip. I will be going to Beijing, China to meet my friend and he will then be my escort to wherever else we go. One stop we will make is Tienanmen Square and I don’t know where else at this time. Because of the sensitivity of the Chinese government and our not wanting to raise their ire, I am going as a tourist. This will give me insights as to how we can minister to them without putting others in danger. I will share more of their situation when I return. Again, I am asking for your prayers. Not so much for my safety or even for the safety of those who I will meet, but primarily that the Lord will be pleased and honored in my going.
We have had our first formal planning meeting on the China mission trip and here are the latest bits of information. The time has not been set in stone but is projected between October 20th and November 15th. We are waiting on a response from China as to the best time. The trip will be about 10 days, including travel of 2 days each way, leaving about 6 days of actual time there. Because of the sensitivity of the Chinese Government to religious activity we are taking a low profile approach so as to create as little as possible problems.
As of right now, there are 4 of us going and we will separate into two groups, touching two different regions of China. It is more of an exploratory trip than a project type of trip. We will be looking to our host to guide us so that we can be of the greatest blessing that we can as well as not putting a target on them so that they can continue to work freely there.
There are many things to complete in our planning but we are focusing in on the things of primary importance. One of them is the securing of our visas. I am the behind the rest of them but they are catching me up. They have been to other countries on mission trips and they are more familiar with the process. I have only been to Japan and that was a few years ago.
We do not know exactly where in China we will be going. One location is fairly well decided but our other contact works in multiple locations so that has yet to be decided. One thing I do know is that I will be visiting Forest and Yan who were members of our church and moved back to China a year ago. They are also translating my book into their language. When it is completed, it will become available to our Chinese brethren here in the USA.
As always, I want to enlist you on the prayer team for this mission trip. I look forward to learning more about this culture and finding a way to be a blessing to them. It is encouraging to hear from you and to share our hearts as we journey together in faith.
Just a note to our followers in France. I am aware of a group of about 20 who have visited this site twice. Would love to hear from you specifically.
I was sharing the story of our experience with the pastor in Japan with our educational pastor and how gifting had opened up such a rich experience, when he suddenly said, You need to be teaching your book to our people, and then added this fall. It was so sudden and unexpected yet somehow I knew that this also was from the Lord so I agreed and the time was set.
I had no basis on what to expect or how many would attend. As the class began there were about 15 that showed up that first night and it grew several more during the classes on the book. Interest was high and several were asking questions and adding their insights. One night after class there were a couple or three standing around and visiting when a lady spoke up and said, I think the Lord is asking me to translate your book into Spanish. I was both stunned and surprised as I knew very little about her. We began discussing the idea and I left her with the request that she pray about it and then we would talk some more.
Come to find out, she was quite sincere and told me what she did for her job was working with translations into Spanish. She was a member of our church and her family was also members. I was still a little shocked by this recent turn of events but I did sense the Lord’s fingerprints all over this so I suggested that she move along and send me chapter one when she finished it. She then told me that because of a sick mother and other commitments that it would be a few months before she could begin but that she would proceed.
Since then she has finished the first chapter and sent it to me. Then I didn’t hear from her for several months. I didn’t have her phone number but I did have her email so I dropped here a note and said that I had been praying for her but did not get an answer. A few more months went by and one day I met her and her husband in the hall at church. She then shared that she had been going through an extreme situation with her mother as well as several other matters. She assured me that it was coming to an end and that she fully intended to continue. I ran into her a few weeks later and she said she had been working on it and now has chapter two almost completed and that she would send it to me shortly. She also reported to me that she is dealing with other situations that is causing her a lot of delay but that she could use the prayers to help here through this current time. Please lift her up to the Lord in your prayers as well.
The third translator came quite surprisingly. A man I have been working with for over a quarter century, was having a struggle in knowing how the Lord wanted to use him. He had studied Russian for several years and had made a couple trips to Russia. He even had worked as a translator in the Russian language but because of a limitation he had, he had never been able to really find the work he fit into. He was constantly second guessing God’s plan for him and as a result, was never able to settle on any one thing that God had made certain.
Knowing his background as well as his heart, I found myself giving him the same advice over and over again. Somehow he thought that he might miss something so he tried to add credence to everything that came along. The result was that nothing was ever truly settled. It is just as the Bible says, Jas 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
As I listened to him I found a common denominator which was that every conversation revolved around what he could do. I then attempted to turn his attention from himself to others. It was not what he could do for God but how he could enrich the lives of others. I also advised him that he needs to begin doing what was in his heart to do. The thing he identified that was the greatest joy to do was Russian translation. So then I suggested to him that he simply begin to translate something for the practice to sharpen his skills again. Lacking confidence, he wanted or needed something more specific so I suggested that he try my book, thinking that it would at least give him a start. It seemed to be a mountain to him so I suggested that he begin with only one chapter.
Now he is growing more and more rapidly and moving at a faster pace continually. He talks less of himself and more about others. He has stated that the more he has translated, the easier it has become. It is much easier to carry on a conversation with him now and his understanding grows every day. One of the most outstanding things that I see in him is his dedication to be precise and accurate in his work. He is now finishing the third chapter and has every intention of finishing the book. He has said several times that upon the completion of his work that it then needs to be examined by others for a more perfect translation.
Sometimes all of us needs a helping hand to lift us to a higher level of living.
to be continued . . .
Today I received an email from Pastor Takeshi in Japan. I rejoiced to hear how the Lord is blessing there in Japan and China. As you may remember, he is pastoring a church in Japan and doing the translation of my book into Japanese. He reported that there was a spiritual attack on their church from a noted person who was spreading false teachings throughout the area and how they countered that effort through prayer. He also reported that there were two young disciples who are planting a new church in China and need prayers as the persecution there is growing. There are also some other young Christians who are growing in the faith and are standing against the opposition.
He also reported that the Lord sent him an assistant to help him in the work there and therefore he will be able to devote more time to the translation of my book (The Mystery of Faith).He has been working on it but it has been slow. He is currently on Chapter 5.
I have not heard for my translator in China in some time but our church has and the mission trip to China is now resuming and is in the planning stage. It is looking like some time in the late fall but is not set at this time. The last I heard was that he is on Chapter 6.
The translation into Russian is moving along and he is on the last part of Chapter 3. I have noted that he is getting faster and having an easier time translating as he is understanding more of what the book is about and how it is structured.
About a week or so ago, the translator into Spanish contacted me and is finishing up on Chapter 2. She has had a lot of sickness in her family and her mother has needed a lot of care so her work has not progresses as fast as she hoped. Still she is continuing.
I am so amazed at what the Lord is doing with my book. I never in thought that I would see it published when I first started it but I felt that it was what the Lord wanted me to do so I did it in obedience to Him. Now I see Him doing other things with it. I found out that it is being used as a training manual in the underground church in China as a training manual for new pastors. Biblical training is almost non existent there so any help is deeply appreciated.
After the translations are completed, they will need to be checked by other translators to validate the content and prepare them for publication. Hopefully, they will be a blessing to many people.More on this as we get closer to the time for the next step.
Tuesday I had my second cataract surgery, this time on the left eye, and everything went well. When I had my followup on Wednesday, I had 20/20 vision so that is two for two. This time it went even better than it did the first time. I am now reading without my reading glasses. This will be a tremendous help for me as I spend a lot of time reading and working on the computer.
I talked with my translator who is doing the Spanish translation and she is sending me the second chapter this week. That makes all four translations of my book working on the third chapter or beyond. I am so amazed at what the Lord is doing. It is very exciting to work with the missionaries and translators so closely. I would like for you to pray for each of them as they are facing tremendous obstacles. One is that they are involved in a number of other mission actives that also require their time. At least two of them are working in hostile environments by their governments. There are families that require their time as well as keeping their focus on what the Lord is doing with them in the translating. Truly it is a job that is to big for us but not to big for God.
Next Wednesday I will complete our study on Holiness as a lifestyle. It has been a blessing for me and has continued to grow as we have worked our way through each session. The class has been great and the work has been a real blessing. I have a few things that I need to get done soon and then there are a couple trips I need to make. One is a trip to Oklahoma to be with my grand kids while my daughter makes a mission trip to the country of Turkey. The second trip is to Colorado for our family reunion and my sister’s 50th wedding anniversary. Also, I have one more surgery ahead next month to remove excess eyelid skin that is blocking some of my vision and putting pressure on my eyes. That will complete my eye work. My vision is already improved to 20/20 and I have lost my double vision and things are a lot clearer.
The final prayer request is that plans are in the works for a mission trip to China and to Japan in October. It was supposed to have happened in April but was postponed because the Chinese government passed a new law restricting religious activity. We needed to wait to see how that would affect our efforts. We need for the Lord to guide us because we cannot see as He does and we need His guidance.
A final note to say thank you for following along with us on this journey and for lifting the work up in prayer. I hope that these entries are being a blessing to you and I would love for you to comment from time to time on the articles, etc. Also, let me know if there is something that you would like to see on this site.
Today was a study day. I worked on my SS lesson for tomorrow and worked on this website some more. Little by little I am getting up to speed. I love it when I get a response to a blog or article. Also, I am looking forward to getting some questions on the Q&A.
This week I went to the eye doctor and will be having eye surgery on the 13th of Feb. and again on the 13th of March. It is not real major – just cataract surgery on both eyes, one at a time. It got me to thinking how much we depend on our eyesight. My life would change so dramatically and I would really struggle to adjust to life if I lost my eyesight. I was thinking about how our seeing helps us to understand God’s perception of everything.
Tomorrow I will be in a teacher training meeting. Our church has these meetings once a month. They are to help us as teachers to do a better job. Our educational pastor is so devoted to equipping us that he goes the extra mile all the time. He is so supportive and helpful. I needed a large monitor for my class on Wednesday and he got it together with just a few hours notice.
After that meeting I will be practicing with the men’s choir on some new music that we just got last week. I am relatively new in the men’s choir and am really out-skilled as I don’t even read music but they encourage me and so I keep going. Who knows, I might even get better.
News update! The translations are all progressing. The Russian translation is in the third chapter and the Spanish translation is almost through the second chapter. I haven’t heard about the Japanese translation in a while. I know that the translator was on a mission trip, out of his country so I am guessing that slowed him down some. I understand that he is working on the 5th chapter. The translator on the Chinese translation was here a couple weeks ago and they are working on the 6th chapter. The work is slow but it is moving along steadily.
In preparing the SS lesson for today on the sanctity of life, I became burdened for the vast majority of all people who are prisoners of one type or another. I will be expanding on this theme in the next several days.
When Jesus began his ministry, he quoted Isaiah. 61:1 which is repeated in Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, It is this message that the gospel focuses on. As you know, the word gospel means good news. The greatest news to those who are captives and are bruised would be deliverance. Jesus said in Joh 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
I have identified a number of such prisons that hold people prisoner and keep people from living the abundant life that Christ intended. I will address several of these in the next few post. So what makes something a prison? I am thinking of a poem written by Richard Lovelace in 1642 to Althea, from Prison “… Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage:” The reverse is also true, If it controls, it is a prison even if there is not walls or bars.
The first prison I will address is traditions. Matthew 15:9 and Mark 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Also, in Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. Traditions offer a sense of security that sometimes blinds us to truth. It may be very difficult to break a wrong teaching if it has been held it for a long time. It makes it even harder if there is some seeming justification for it. It is much easier to go along with it even if you see that it is wrong. You can be sure that if you rock the boat, there will be some push back reaction. So you are faced with the choice to reject the error and receive the consequences or to just go along and become its prisoner. I have no way of knowing how many lives have endured the consequence of going along with what they knew was wrong but I believe that there are many who have wrecked their own lives as well as being a hindrance to others who were affected by the error.
The gospel will set men free from such a prison. Jesus said in John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. In dealing with traditions it is important to deal with issues not personalities. Establish facts, not feelings. Allow the other(s) to disagree with you if they so choose. You are not trying to change them but you are trying to establish your own way. Ask them to allow you the same freedom you give them in not making them a prisoner to your thoughts. A tradition can be good when it is founded upon truth and does not take prisoners. The good news is that a person is set free in Christ.