Monday, July 19, 2010

Seeing God at work among discouragement and bitterness

Last week, my church has Vocation Bible School for the kids.  It was a great outcome.  There were about 150 kids and 63 of them were non-believers.

Yesterday, we had a graduation.  The kids were to sing a song in front of everyone. I had the privilege of talking to the parents who never been to my church before.  

The children pastor told me to spend time with them.  I have no idea what to do.   I am not  very good as a host or entertain others.

We were sitting in one of the rooms having coffee and donuts when my children pastor dropped by and introduced me to everyone....

"This is Cliff and he has an amazing story.  He had a liver transplant when he was 11 and also did an Ironman.  Cliff, why don't you share them your story...."

I was embarrassed.  Talk about myself?  I laughed out loud....

Then I figured we have 30 min to kill and a great way to share my testimony I jumped into speaking mode and shared about my liver transplant, my drinking history, triathlon and meeting Jesus in my Ironman journey.

The parents were amazed.  They were engaged and asked me many questions....

Did the liver transplant help you train better?
What did you eat?

I concluded that all of this is nothing but short of a miracle.  

Later, I gave them a tour around the church and they asked questions about our Jumping Frogs program (a youth group that we have every Fri).  

During the presentation, my children pastor was sharing she had volutneers from 5 year old to over 80.  

My church, like many Chinese churches in Canada, have congregations based on different languages and dialects.  For us, we have a English, Mandarin and Cantonese congregations.  It is amazing to see so many different helpers from various congregations volunteer together. 


A while back I had a conversation with a sister about Chinese church.  She was quite bitter at how conservative the church was.  They weren't allow someone to play worship because the boy had long hair.  To her, she would never go back to a Chinese church.  She believed in multi cultural churches, just not Chinese churches. 

And to be honest, there were times when I am bitter about being in a Chinese church.

I am more missional.  I want to go out and serve the poor. My church seemed to be focus on just Chinese people. The church doesn't fit my needs...and to be even more negative...what a waste of time...

Bitter huh?


I went to a Chinese Alliance Church conference last year and attended a session on how to be more missional.  I was expecting some juicy info about creative ways to share the gospel that is relevant to the people in their culture context.

Instead, the speaker just said...'you have to work with the Chinese side'

At that time, I was hugely disappointed.  That was the answer?  It had nothing to do with being missional.


The parents I talked to yesterday, none of them were Chinese.  Yet, because of VBS, they come to a Chinese church for the first time.

And I had been thinking and frustrated at how are we going to invite our neighbors who when most of them are not Chinese.  Why would they come to a Chinese church?

I spoke to a father yesterday.  He, non-Chinese, enjoyed the VBS program.  He was impressed and mentioned how organize things were.  He is a single parent and told me how much struggle it is to afford days camp for his kid (8 yr old).  One week camp costs 700 dollars.  That's the equivalent of half a paycheck.  Single parent.  Many bills to pay.  It is so expensive. I am thankful that we have VBS to make it affordable for parents like him.

So God, in His way, in His Will, gave me an answer I never expect.  It is almost like He is saying..'Cliff, this is my church and this is my program.  Let me SHOW you what you think is impossible.'

God in all His Sovereign Ways, often speak the loudest in whispers and nudges.

I am growing fond of and feel blessed to be part of this multi congregational community which I call my church.

There are many in my church upset about how things are run.  They, and me, often feel this is a Chinese church run in a Chinese way and soon the culture will change and this church will no longer be necessary...

I wish I can share what I saw yesterday to others.  Multi congregation comes together to bring glorify to God through VBS.  Many different parts come together for one purpose (1 Corinthian 12 anyone??)

I don't know how to tell this to others.  I am more discourage in not because I don't share, it is because if I share, they will not listen. (I do understand I cannot control that...still it is discouraging.)

Those who are upset are still upset.
Those who don't feel this church will work continue to feel so.

And so here I stand...between two worlds.  One full of discouragement, bitterness, and negativity...and yet a world where God is slowly revealing His Will and His purpose.


A speaker once asked the question....'if the church is not here today, will the neighborhood misses it?'

Back then, without hesitation, I would say, no one will miss my church because we never reach out.

Oh...looking then and looking what I experienced wrong I was.

God uses program like VBS to reach those who never been to my church.  The single father will surely suffers, if one day our church disappears.

And I am thank God for Him sharing this little bit of His Will to me today.

Though serving might have ups and downs.
Though people and myself can be bitter and upset at times.
Though the walls are down and ruins lay everywhere.

I still can see the Hope that God promises.

And this promise is the only light I lean on when the times are tough, when I am all alone, when darkness engulfs me.

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.
Revelation 7:9a

[More reflection..confession]

I know I am guilty of spending more time bashing the church than encouraging.  
Spend more time tearing it down than building it up.  
Spend more time talk about strategies and theories than seeking where God is working.

Glad to have God open my eyes to see where He is working....


b.p. said...

I don't know what made me read through your entire post (usually I skim), but thank you for sharing what God has shown you, and how he uses people (and churches) in ways people just don't (won't) imagine.

God's sense of humour is sure funny sometimes, and usually that's when He gets the glory even more!

furious engineer said...

It's true... I'm just working my way through this blog and I love it. It's just so honest and revealing, and I can totally relate.