Have you ever questioned God? More specifically, have you ever questioned God, “Why Me?” This month, this question was what Stephen asked God. In Eastern parts of China, Typhoon Lekima ravaged and destroyed many buildings, causing a landslide to block the passage of a river which rose up to over 3 stories high therefore triggering major flood in the area. At least 40 people at one of the small towns were buried alive. Out of 40, 8 of them came from a Christian family. Now, only one from this Christian family survived this tragedy. The flood wiped away many buildings and homes; the damage cost was estimated at over 9 billion dollars.
When IDES approached Stephen, he asked God the question, “Why me?” Stephen’s usual mission field is in Southwestern part of China. Eastern China is a lot farther than his regular field and as a matter of fact he had never set foot there before. Above all, as you may have known, that’s the place where severe Christian persecution is going on. Many church buildings have been torn down. Something most people don’t know is that Stephen doesn’t like flying in airplanes that much, therefore the long ride to a place where he wasn’t accustomed to puts a lot more pressure on him. Another reason was that he was still busying to complete the final proofreading of his commentaries. “Why me?” was constantly ringing in his head.
While vacillating his decision, amazingly Stephen got a call from the Literature Department of Sangria-La inviting him and Mary to visit Beijing. As you may have heard, Stephen wrote the proposal for encoding one of the ancient scripts which had been accepted by the World Linguistic Association. So, they would like to pay their gratitude by sponsoring the trip to Beijing (IDES sponsored the trip for the relief team surrounding the trip to the disaster zone). At that moment, Stephen knew that it was God’s will for him to go and help those in need. He even knew that his trip would be protected under the umbrella of this invitation. If this wasn’t a blatant answer from God to go we don’t know what is. Needless to say, Stephen boarded the plane with Mary. Praise God for that!
The question “Why me?” is still going on even after Stephen and Mary met a survivor of the typhoon. This man woke up at 3AM and realized that he was floating with just a small space between him and the ceiling. He had to struggle to breathe the air at the ceiling which was getting smaller and smaller. This next part that he said was most shocking… He was on the 2nd floor of the building! This man was extremely grateful that someone came from another country to help him and his family. Moreover, he was shocked to hear that Christians from another country would care that much about him.
The question is “Why don’t the church in that area help?” The churches in the area belong in the affluent society. They are indeed very wealthy. Churches have a lot of money, for example, one of the church buildings that was torn down recently was worth over 10 million US dollars. The relief team found out that churches kept all the money to show off their status. Churches would compete to see who has more money and would boast their stockpile of the money. They hardly use the money to help the poor, the sick or the needy. They didn’t even pay their preachers, pastors, missionaries or any of Kingdom servants because they believe that the Kingdom workers are forbidden to use the church money.
Why me? Now, the relief team realized that God sent them to set an example to those churches. Even though the money going there didn’t compare to how much the Chinese churches have, it definitely stirred the hearts of churches there to rethink about their Christian faith. It was simple. God wanted us to show His love to people, to his most beloved creation. HE wanted us to demonstrate how churches should be. HE wanted us to be a light to the lost. HE wanted us there, at the right time; all we have to do is trust in Him and go.
|Debris from Typhoon Lekima|
|32 people were tragically buried alive here|
Back in Thailand, Nick took care of the family and made sure everything was running smoothly at our center. He drove Isaac to and from school and also did ministry with people in Thailand. One of Nick’s students, who was working as a mercenary for a rather dark business, has been studying the Bible with Nick before English class. He has been asking many questions. One of the questions was, “Will God forgive me for what I’ve done?” Nick told him that we will constantly need God, because being a Christian doesn’t mean that you will never sin again, but you have an amazing God who will help you grow and learn and strive closer to Him. Everyone has their seasons of doing wonderful, and then there are also times of failure. This is when you need God more than ever. Another question he asked was, “Why does God love me so much?” (Why me?). Nick answered him that he is very special and made in God’s image. After a couple weeks of studying, the student has declared that he believes in Jesus and has decided to get baptized! Praise God!
|Bible class before English class|
The family is doing well. During the month of September, often we made hospital visits and prayed for the sick. Stephen is busy preparing himself for another trip to Laos on the first week of this upcoming October. Mary manages all the housework so that Stephen can focus on missions. Mary is definitely a blessing! On the weekdays, as routine, he works on his commentary; during weekends, he preaches at various churches in Thailand. Isaac won at his school debate for the second time in a row so the school put him on their speech team during his school break which excited him very much. Actually, now he is on his first semester break. Becky has done a great job tutoring his brother Isaac and helping mom with her one hand as much as possible. John is starting a part time job as he prepares to take care of some of his bills and also getting ready to get married next year. Besides teaching English part time and also doing ministry in Thailand, Nick has been coaching soccer to the Shan refugee kids in the neighborhood. Today, drug dealing and drug addiction has been running rampant. Nick believes that he can impact the community through coaching the kids in soccer and slowly incorporating Jesus into their lives. Many of these kids can't even afford shoes, so they play soccer barefoot. Please pray for them. On top of this, he has also been preparing some coffee to roast in order to sell some coffee for the Lisu farmers who live in South East Asia.
|Visiting the sick|
|Stephen meeting with the Lisu at Lin Luang, Thailand|
|Stephen preaching at the biggest Lisu church in Thailand|
|Isaac during his debate competition|
|Nick had noodles with the kids after soccer practice|
|The soccer kids at Hua Fai, the majority are Shan |
refugees from Myanmar
|The number of people coming to soccer practice |
has doubled in a month. Sadly most lack proper equipment,
Always appreciate your encouragements and your prayers! God bless,