"apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15)
Dear brothers and Sisters,
'All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose.' On January 17th our family arrived at the airport, ready to return to Canada. -- 5 traveling on Canadian passports and my wife, Sharon, on a Taiwanese passport. Due to the change in planes in Detroit, my wife was denied boarding and watched as the 5 of us left for Canada. (she came 1 week later after replacing her passport). For the previous month, her nearly blind and hard of hearing father, after a fall, had been generally unconscious in ICU (recently moved to respiratory unit) with a tube down his throat. After we left, Sharon spent time with and he was alert. The 1st day she shared her faith and asked him to believe, he just closed his eyes. The 2nd day, she asked him to hold her hand tightly if he wanted to pray: he did. My wife came to Canada rejoicing. Receiving Ruth-Ann's new Canada passport just days before our departure (if not she would have been left with my wife), along with the delayed departure, allowed Sharon freedom to be with her father when he awoke without the children. The title of a New York Times Fashion article (Feb 14, 2013): 'Out of Sight, Making His Presence Known', seems strangely appropriate.
Reviewing 2012, unexpected and exciting
- The year started with a prophecy that our family would be like a NET. In early spring, Sharon was asked to be the spokesperson for the Taiwan Breast Cancer Association. As a result, on May 2, she was able to share her testimony in a two hour news conference with 30 journalists from all the major media outlets in Taiwan. This publicity was followed by Good-TV doing an hour documentary on God's working in her life. (shown on TV in July;now available for download from the interNET). God is just using our family to display his power and mercy. On May 2, 1997 after surgery for breast cancer and before starting chemotherapy with a prognosis of less than 2 years to live, her pastor at the time Wang Tina You gave her the verse 'I know I shall abide.. (and not die)' (Phil 1:24-25) May 2, 1999 a healthy Aien (Charity Grace)born despite adverse effects of the anti-cancer drugs she was taking (low probability of pregnancy, harmful effect on the fetus of these drugs), being involved in a bus crash in China and falling between the train and the platform in China. Finally, May 2,2012 sharing God's working in her life to the national media. 'Out of Sight, Making His Presence Known':
- Probing questions during the filming of the Good-TV documentary, forced her to revisit and confront many painful memories and feelings of rejection in her family. Originally she did not even want to look at the completed documentary. However, God used this in not only reviving Sharon's faith but also restoring her relationship with her family putting a deep concern for her family's salvation within her heart. Again God's timing is evident here. In late December, her nearly blind and hard of hearing father fell and entered ICU. Will he exit hospital? At the beginning of the Chinese New Year, her mother had a serious fall. At the time of this letter she is back home but with 24 hour care. She has expressed a new found openness to Jesus and has prayed with Sharon to receive Christ. God is not too late in working -- although it sometimes seems frustrating to wait!
- As you can see from the previous paragraphs, this past year has clearly not been about me and "my ministry"! It has been about God and his sovereign working in my wife's life. For myself, these last months have been characterized by (1) an effort to become more integrated into the local church (joining a church cell group), (2) helping to teach and organize two university courses and leading 2 course related evangelistic cell groups as well as one discipleship cell group (4 members) while attending the teacher's fellowship. It was a joy to see two members involved in local churches (1 getting baptized) (3) a period of mild depression starting in the middle of September and abruptly ending February 16 or 17th of this year. For this I appreciate the prayers of brothers and sisters. (4) A couple of prophetic prayers by others for me: (i) stay put for short term but this is not permanent. (ii) my Chinese will improve. It has been a great encouragement this past year to have many people tell me that my Chinese has improved.
Looking towards 2013: changes and challenges.
Sharon's dramatic growth in faith and God's working to break down many of her prejudices in the past year puts some fear in me -- maybe our lives will change dramatically in this coming year -- changes that will require my faith to increase. Our parents aging and declining health may affect our lives greatly in the future.
At the university, the courses in Christianity -- which has involved a lot of my time in the past -- have been canceled with the exception of one course that has 0 credits (students only get recognition for reading the Bible) . The number of students who have enrolled are only about 14... So there will be changes in ministry. I personally hope for more deeper integration and learning from the local church.
I have been investigating the possibility of selling premium Taiwan Tea in Canada -- mainly as a way to maintain relationships with members of Sharon's family. Work wise, I hope to write a number of papers relating to my students and my research work.
"Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey."
Thanks again for your prayers and concern,