Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Celebrating Easter Early AND Late

This year, the sunrise will be about 12 hours early for us.  We'll be celebrating the day that Jesus rose from the dead, conquering death and hell and sin, while traveling from Beijing to Guangzhou, China.  We're also praying that another resurrection will begin a day later, when we meet Zhong Xi Di and welcome her into our family.  We will give her a new name, much like Jesus gave Simon and Saul new names.  We're praying that bringing Xi Di into our family will result in a new, spiritual birth, and we will name her based on that hope: Karis Joy.

Jesus changed the world on that first Easter.  And he still is...

~ Todd

Thursday, February 02, 2012

An Incredible Journey

Many missionary biographies chronicle both the gentle and dramatic ways God proves his faithfulness, love, and presence to his people.  Even as they face persecution and death, they are enabled by the same Spirit who empowered Christ to love people who were, at best, indifferent to him, and, at worst, those who despised his very existence.  Despite being framed, prosecuted, and unjustly sentenced to death, Jesus cried out for God to forgive even his executioners (Luke 23:34).

This same Spirit leads us into a reformation; we are walking away from a self-centered and self-absorbed existence toward a reality defined by worshiping God and loving others.  This Spirit changes us, despite our frequent reminders of the past, into people who act and think more and more like Jesus.

As we walk with the Spirit on this journey of reformation, we see amazing changes in ourselves.  We do and say and think things we had sworn we would never do.  Growing up in a pastor's home, I swore I'd never be a pastor.  However, Jesus gently changed my thinking.  I swore, too, that I'd never be a missionary.

Jesus had different plans for me than I had for me.  He has called me to be a missionary, despite the battles that sometimes rage inside me.  He paired me with a partner who has long had a heart to serve others.  Heather demonstrated this in short-term mission trips in college before we were married, and she demonstrates it every day in serving our children, serving the people of our church, and serving her husband.  The mission Jesus called me to was to share his good news.  Despite our wickedness and rebellion, God made a way for us to dwell with him as his people through Jesus of Nazareth's death, burial, and resurrection.

By our belief in the truth of Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection, and by way of our ongoing dependence on his sacrifice as sufficient to pay the penalty of our sin and make us right with God, God has adopted us into his family.  We have become his children.  God chose to bring us into his family, and most of us don't look like Jesus the Jew.  God decided to love people from all over the world, and God's Spirit moves in us to do the same!

So, my wife and I are missionaries, preparing to share the good news with someone who doesn't speak our language.  We are travelling overseas to a distant, ancient land, and our target people group is made up of one individual!  We are praying that God will adopt the daughter that we are going to adopt.

Of course, we hope that we can influence others as well, but we have been called by God to illustrate his adoption of us by imitating him.  And he has gently and dramatically proven his faithfulness, love, and presence to us.  Please pray for us as we undertake the difficult task of loving and shepherding a little girl who may have serious developmental challenges, who doesn't speak English, and who may be indifferent to us, or even hate us.  Who knows what other challenges we may face?

Well, we know the one who knows, and those unknown challenges are all part of his plan for us to experience reformation.  May we grow in worship of Jesus and love for others.

~ Todd