Saturday Night Thoughts
October 23, 2010
A few Saturday night thoughts . . .
1. After visiting three different Chinese house churches, we were impressed with their emphasis on prayer. In American churches, we pray and then we get down to business. In China prayer is their business. They pray together, they pray out loud, and they pray often. Peter Wang put it very simply, “When you are in trouble, you pray.»
Maybe we would pray more if we were in trouble more. Or maybe we’re in trouble already and we just don’t realize it.
2. I commented to the university students on Sunday night that on one hand, it’s easy to see the obvious differences between China and the United States. This goes to questions of history, culture, language, customs, and to the vexing issue of very different political systems. But on a deeper level, people are people wherever you go. Because we are all made in the image of God and because we are all sinners, we are all highly valued, deeply fallen, and greatly loved by God.
3. This is true at a deeper level for Christians. On Monday morning when we visited “Ginger’s” church that meets in a tiny home in a village outside Dalian, although we could understand only two words–"Amen!” and “Hallelujah!”–we had genuine fellowship in the Lord.
4. On Wednesday night we met with about 13 believers at Peter’s home. They sang for a bit, then I spoke for a few minutes, then Peter said it was time to pray for the people. He asked them to come forward for prayer and then asked me to lay my hands on them and pray for them. “No translation. Just pray.” So I did. Peter shared the needs of each person as they knelt in his living room. This one has an unsaved husband. Another has a daughter who once walked with the Lord but now is greatly attracted to the world. This couple dreams of starting a fellowship group in their home that might eventually become a house church. Another couple asked for prayer that they might be bolder about their faith. Peter raised his hands and stretched them forward, as if offering a covering while I prayed for the people. It was deeply moving to me to pray for these dear saints of God and it reminded me that in Christ there is truly “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.”
5. I’m happy to report that after 15 days, 10 flights, and 2 weeks in Korea and China, we came back in good health. No one got sick on the trip.
6. We did eat a few new things, such as conch, stingray, jellyfish and cow stomach. I passed on the last one. None of us tried the “squid on a stick” that we saw for sale at an outdoor market.
7. I think my favorite food was a popular snack that looked like a fried pancake. During our visit to the Hallim “Heavenly” Park on Jeju Island, we saw a stall where a woman shaped the batter into a ball, filled it with cinnamon, sugar and butter, pounded it flat, and then cooked it on a hot griddle. I believe the Koreans call it hotteok. It was hot, messy and delicious.
8. If you go to Asia and can schedule it, make a stop at Incheon Airport in Seoul. It’s my new favorite airport anywhere. Bright, spacious, extremely clean, and filled with shops of every kind, it’s an ideal place for a layover. On our way home we spent six hours at the “Hub Lounge” at Incheon where for $35 apiece, you can find a place to rest, relax, watch TV and eat at their buffet while waiting for your next flight.
9. Jet lag is real. There are a few things you can do to lessen the impact, but we’ve discovered that it takes us three full days after a long trip to start feeling up to par again. The body takes its own time to recover after crossing 13 time zones.
10. Recently Marlene purchased a Nook and I received a Kindle DX for my birthday. Those e-readers proved a great help on the trip, especially on the 13-hour flight from Detroit to Seoul. Before the trip I downloaded a number of public domain books from www.archive.org. Most have been out of print for a hundred years. I have books in my Kindle by W. Robertson Nicoll, Phillips Brooks, John Henry Jowett, and I found Martin Luther’s sermons in 1 Peter. Plus I’ve started reading “Jesus Wars” by Philip Jenkins and “God Is Not One” by Stephen Prothero. Of course I’ve got J. I. Packer and J. C. Ryle in my Kindle also. Marlene read several novels while I finished “Silhouettes of My Contemporaries” by Lyman Abbott. I even started reading (or rereading because I first read it when I was maybe 10 years old) “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. That’s the nice thing about an e-reader. You can take dozens or hundreds or even thousands of books with you and hold them all in your hand. Derek Taylor told me to buy a clip-on LED light, and that proved to be excellent advice.
11. We gave away hundreds of our Keep Believing wristbands in Korea and China. I continue to be amazed at how popular those are. After my talk on Sunday night, the students took almost every wristband we had.
12. Special thanks to Skip Olson who traveled with us. He was a most genial travel companion and a great help in every way. He took video of virtually everything we did on the trip. We came back with 25 gigs of video, which in various forms will eventually find its way to the KBM website.
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