We had just wrapped up several days with a team of high school students and teachers from Hong Kong International School (HKIS), serving together at a small school and nearby church in rural Cambodia. This area in Kampong Thom province has been the site of CWEF clean water projects for several years. Our time together with the many kids at school and church had been hot, dusty, fun, challenging, and enlightening. We had been teaching, learning and exploring with the older kids in the area how they might use the gifts and talents God has given them to make positive changes in their own communities. We had been serving alongside local pastors and church members, praying before meals and sharing bibles stories and songs with the kids at the local church.
At dinner on our last day in Kampong Thom, one of the HKIS students surprised me at dinner: “So…I hope it’s okay: I have a bunch of questions for you about Christianity.” She was sitting clear across the table from me, so that the other 5 or so students at the table were also forced to listen to our conversation. “Of course that’s okay,” I replied, saying a silent prayer for grace and courage. The first question was the best: “From your perspective, what is the core of Christianity?” Wow, what a great start and a great invitation to clearly share with these students the central Gospel truth of what Jesus has done for us and how it changes everything.
She proceeded to ask me a series of more difficult questions about ‘hot-button’ issues: the relationship between science and faith, what the Bible says about homosexuality, heaven and hell, etc. I did my best to answer with grace and truth, and to make sure to always point back to the most important thing, which of course is not a thing or a concept or a doctrine at all but a Person. The One we remember and celebrate with special gratitude this week – God himself come to live with us, to die for us, to raise us and all Creation to new life with Him.
The chance to have these types of conversations is one of the reasons we do trips like this. Opening our hands in service to others has a funny way of opening our hearts to what God wants to say to us. After dinner that evening, the same student with all the questions joined an optional prayer meeting we had planned, and we got to hear more of her story. She said she was “reconnecting with spirituality” after several years away from the Church. I was able to quote the above verse from Matthew 7 and encouraged her: “Just keep on seeking. I think you’ll find Jesus.”
Our work with and for communities in rural Asia through CWEF continues:
In my (Josh’s) role as director for CWEF, a current major focus of my work is to build up a stronger base of donors to provide financial support and stability for the mission we have been called to, and for specific CWEF health and education projects. This spring and summer, I will be working hard to develop new contacts and relationships in Hong Kong and the U.S. for this purpose.
Related to this crucial fund development work, we have been putting a lot of work recently into preparing to launch a new web site for CWEF, which I look forward to sharing with you very soon!
In addition to the aforementioned service learning trip in Cambodia, I also had the privilege of joining another service team recently, this time with students and parents from Concordia International School Shanghai. We served together at a new clean water project site in China’s remote Yunnan province. Our main focus was to visit many of the 40+ families in the village and collect data and stories as part of a baseline survey for this new project site.
In the next few months, we are preparing for several additional service learning trips in China, as well recruiting and managing interns in Hong Kong and Shanghai this summer.
John (now 4!) thoroughly enjoys his classmates and teachers at Concordia here in Shanghai, and he has a great time helping his little sister develop his love of cars and all things fun. Sophie (10 months) is now mobile – she started ‘scooting’ this month.
Prayer and Praise
For the many international school students who join CWEF service learning teams each year; that they would seek and find Jesus as a result.
For all of CWEF’s health and education work planned for 2019 in Asia, that God would use our service for his good purposes.
For God’s provision of funding for all of CWEF’s planned programs and operations support.
For CWEF’s board of directors – for wisdom and vision as they make decisions about the future direction of the organization.
For all the people connected to our family and the work of CWEF, that the Spirit would be working in their lives.
If you wish to provide financial support for the work God is doing through our family and through CWEF in Asia, please visit
www.lcms.org/lange / 888-930-4438
www.missioncentral.us / 712-882-1029
Thank you so much for your prayers and support!
Josh + Coco + John + Sophia // lcms.org/lange