Finally! Face to face and in person! After three and a half years, we reunited with our national trainers in East Asia. Before departure, I was already excited because we had waited so long for this trip. After meeting together, I felt even more ecstatic, encouraged and grateful, though our time with them was short.
The most unforgettable episode was our heart-to-heart conversation with John. In spite of being ill, he still drove for more than three hours from the break of dawn to meet with us. We poured out our hearts and shared about many things including the kingdom of God, the land, and its people, as well as trivial family news. He felt agonized whenever we touched upon some major issues concerning vital principles of right and wrong. As he expressed, “These are tender issues with me and sometimes I just burst into tears uncontrollably when talking about them.”
A faithful servant of the Lord, John pays special attention to feeding his flock with God’s Word. In addition to training, preaching, and leading Bible studies at his church, he also personally writes explanations for each daily devotional biblical passage to ensure that believers maintain a solid spiritual life. Within the SALT team, John shoulders the leadership of curriculum development as well. Though John is resilient and rational by nature, he bore his emotions through tears, much to our surprise. We couldn’t help but ponder: “How much pressure has he endured?!”
Family affairs, state affairs, world affairs – John worries about them all. He feels depressed about the rapid deterioration in the general environment. His heart is pierced by the persecution of his fellow brothers and sisters, and he is anguished over the enemy’s plundering of unreached people groups. To us, John is just like the weeping prophet, Jeremiah. No wonder he gained more white hair on his head over the last three years despite his young age.
Nevertheless, some family matters have brought joy to John, albeit with some heartaches. His eldest daughter is only 21 years old, yet like Daniel’s three friends, she has already undergone a few trials in the fiery furnace. She aspires to become a kindergarten teacher, but being true to the Christian faith, she has not been able to find any internship opportunities, and thus far has failed to realize her dream. She firmly refuses to marry an unbeliever and had to make a painful choice on the path of love. Thankfully, she is not discouraged but clings to her faith, entrusting her marriage and future to the Lord. Though John is certainly pleased with and comforted by his daughter’s strong convictions, he remains heartbroken over the losses encountered and anxious about the rough road anticipated.
Let us lift up our faithful co-worker John and his daughter, and ask the Lord to open the way and keep them blameless and pure as God’s children in this dark age.
as you hold firmly to the word of life.” (Philippians 2:15b-16a NIV)