There and Back Again

Harlo.

Finally arrived back in Hong Kong since last Friday.

Things I have learnt in the last 3 1/2 months:

1.  China is thirsty for the eternal living water.

2.  It is easy to dumb down the gospel for quick-fire conversions.  The Chinese do not need half-hearted missionaries – they need people to engage in relationships with them.  How do you suppose the idolatrous thinking from the Cultural Revolution and Mao Zedong is going to evaporate because you simply preached “Christ crucified” a la 4 spiritual laws style without explaining who Christ is and what the crucifixion means?  It is throwing biblical jargon to an unlettered blue-collared man, their object of worship merely a man who sacrificed himself for them.  Where is the prophecied son of God, Visible of the Invisible, Head of all creation who reconciled the whole world to himself through the cross and is positively pleasing in the Father’s eyes on our behalf?

3.  If the Spirit is willing, no matter how incapable you perceive yourself in speaking in a foreign language, He will speak through you without a filter.  He has enabled me to preach and evangelise to local Christians in Mandarin with my pitiful 3 months of learning and by and by almost not a single word was wasted on working out what on earth I wanted to say!

4.  There are plenty of amazing witnesses who have been pulled out of rural villages, telling of visions and dreams concerning Christ.  However, there is also an over-emphasis on these ‘incredible’ stories, making the average-joe Christian doubt whether he or she is saved considering the less spiritual drama prior to salvation.  If we were all dead in God’s eyes before being given the Holy Spirit, is that ‘amazing’ story of circumstantial changes going to cloud the greater truth concerning all Christians that we are actually risen from the dead in Him?

5.  Do not forget to find the RSS feed of your favoured blogs and subscribe to them via http://www.bloglines.com.  It is frustrating in a country like China where most blogs are blocked, but some websites can legitimately work around it.  I have spent hours and hours catching up with blog-readings – unless you are into that time-consuming sort of thing, get that RSS feed!

Resources to share:

1.  Paul Blackham, the pastor @ Tarleton Farm Fellowship, has started a new archive of his work!  Find the link at the right hand panel of my blog!

2.  Carolina Tam, a sister-in-Christ from Hong Kong, is now in England working at the All Souls Clubhouse and sharing her experiences there as well as on Speaker’s Corner.  Riveting stuff @ “Oil in the Lamp“.

3.  Ben Hung, a brother from UK has just started a new blog @ “I know that my Redeemer lives“. woot woot.

4.  I have completed a commentary on Numbers (check out my “Sermons/Papers” page), and still working on Deuteronomy.  I will not be posting Deuteronomy till I’m done unfortunately!  So please direct your opinions to my Numbers commentary if possible because I’m sure there are plenty of things there for other Spirit-led siblings to discern!

Specific things to share:

1.  I am now engaged!  Tentative date is December 2009.  Please pray for my fiance Cadence and my steadfastness during this period as both our families have gone slightly nuts over the idea of an early marriage.  Since the engagement in Sept/October period, it has been a blessing and has taken both of us closer to Christ than ever.  For all those brothers and sisters in Christ reading, I have said it once and I say it again – don’t settle for conventional dating when Christ wants to get married to us!

2.  There are a few ‘underground’ fellowships in China with several awesome Spirit-led siblings – pray for these people!  They are especially lacking in Christian male leaders who can speak Mandarin sufficiently.  Pray for the raising up of more Christian leaders!

3.  A friend and I helped lead a Bible study on campus for approximately 9-10 weeks and covered the book of Colossians whilst we got to know between 10-20 students from the intensive Mandarin course.  Over that period we have had many Christians and non-Christians from several backgrounds asking questions during and outside of the Bible study time.  Pray for more idols to be shattered in their minds as the Trinity is preached faithfully – it sounds like they have more ridiculous caricatures of Jesus Christ than westerners make of Him.  My teacher, my friend’s host family and my own host family now have their own Bibles to devour and to understand the deeper implications of what Jesus had done for us.  I will be uploading a little tract I wrote to them after some further necessary edits considering my relatively poor handling of Chinese.

4.  The Communist party and the generalisations made by those peering into China are cliches for a good reason – because these locals genuinely have a duty to share in their weekly or monthly Communist party ‘fellowships’ whether they have noticed some illegal activity concerning Christian evangelism or whatnot.  Christian bookstores do not blatantly sell Bibles, unless you have gained the trust of the shopkeeper who will eventually sell you the Bibles and different variations (i.e. Bibles with commentaries/study Bibles).  However, praise Jesus that many are tired of this ‘ratting-out’ attitude and many simply go to say how great the party is, only to return home with the same confusion in their minds as what (or should I say Who) Truth really is.

For this month I’m hoping to prepare for the mission trip in January, but meanwhile (besides Deuteronomy) I’ll be hoping to post some food for thought especially in this hyper-hyped period that is Christmas.  To give it a head start, here is a comment I received (amongst others in the last three months on this blog which have been very encouraging and humbling):

Religion should be a choice. However, if in choosing Christianity you get a free lunch, or a free pencil or a free bible, or free shelter, then that really is not a choice for Christianity, but a choice for that free pencil, or free bible, or free shelter
I have always been a supporter of helping Children… but not in such circumstances. Providing free education Without implications. Providing free education for the sake of providing free education, not for the sake of the enhancement of Christianity.

I would say emphatically that in accepting the knowledge of the true Christ crucified, you are getting more than a free lunch, pencil, Bible and shelter – you are getting Christ himself as your inheritance and participation in that love and glory which Christ experienced before the foundation of the world:

Joh 17:4-5  I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.  (5)  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
Joh 17:24-26  Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  (25)  O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.  (26)  I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

There is no such thing as giving without implication.  If you are already enslaved by the shackles of sin, then every philanthropic deed is marred with a Satan-glorifying intention – the idea that there can be an ounce of hope or salvation which does not come from the Sent One who gives Redemption its very meaning is nothing short of heresy.  I would rather the free provision of shelter remind them of the eternal home, glory and love which they will inherit (John 17; Hebrews 11), than provide a man-made house to remind them that life is a self-persisting struggle and nothing more.

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There and Back Again

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