“Your kingdom come, your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.” -Matthew 6:10
About 5 years ago, this section of the Lord’s Prayer was a big part of the reason why I felt called to stay in Asia, move to Shanghai and begin work with CWEF. God planted into my heart a desire to see his kingdom come and his will be done in materially poor communities here in Asia. This big idea was so beautiful and exciting to me: that God is in the process of redeeming the whole world, and surprisingly enough, that he is inviting me to play a small role (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
Serving overseas has been an interesting lesson for me. I still experience awesome pictures of how the Spirit is moving and changing lives, and I’m very thankful for them. My prevailing experience, however, seems to be a deeper and wider understanding of my own brokenness and failure when it comes to doing the small part God is asking me to do in bringing his kingdom and doing his will on earth. This is not fun. But it is very effective at increasing my reliance on the Lord and bringing me back to Jesus day by day. And maybe that’s the whole point. On this Good Friday, join me in rejoicing that the story God is telling ends not with the apparent failure of today but with his sure victory on Easter Sunday:
“Oh, the devil’s singing over me an age-old song,
That I am cursed and gone astray;
Singing the first verse so conveniently,
He’s forgotten the refrain: Jesus saves!”
-Shane & Shane
The last few months have been very full, as usual. Here are a few highlights: In late January, I was able to travel to Cambodia to meet with our team there and to take part in a post-project evaluation trip for a flood relief grant carried out by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cambodia (ELCC). This grant was provided by LCMS and administered locally through CWEF. The project provided basic emergency supplies (including food, oil, water filter, tarp, etc.) for 135 families affected by severe flooding in October 2013. It was good to visit these families to understand the effect of the project and to spend some quality time with our CWEF staff and local church partners there. Join us in thanksgiving for the successful completion of our non-profit registration in Cambodia! This came through in February after several years of effort and prayer. It is a really helpful step for the work in Cambodia, and we’re happy to have finally cleared this hurdle. I will be making another trip to Cambodia in May to visit with our team at the office in Phnom Penh to do program planning for the coming fiscal year which starts in July. Please pray for a productive visit.
Through an introduction from a friend, I recently connected with a public policy professor at East China Normal University (ECNU) here in Shanghai. He is trying to encourage his students to consider doing more volunteer work and to get involved with non-profits and the growing social sector in China, so he invited me to come speak with several of his classes in March. This was a different but really fun experience for me, and it has got me thinking again about how we can provide more volunteer and internship opportunities for university students to serve with CWEF.
The first week of April, Coco and I helped to lead a service learning team of families from Concordia International School Shanghai. We spent several days in Dayao, a small village in rural Yunnan province which is the site of one of the five water projects CWEF helped to support this year. As a result of the project, over 800 people will have convenient and reliable access to clean drinking water, leading to improved health, productivity and economic output. Since 2003, CWEF has provided support for over 60 such water projects in Yunnan.
This past week, I had the pleasure of spending several days with Dolphin, CWEF programs director for China, who is based out of our office in Shenzhen. She was in Shanghai to attend this month’s REACH student enrichment activity at our partner school, Shanyang middle school. In addition, we had some time to talk through needed adjustments and planning for next year related to staffing and programming. It was a joy to hear how the Lord has been working in her and her husband’s lives recently.
This week, we also had a going-away lunch for Chen Ming, who will be taking on a new role elsewhere. This is a little sad for me as CM has been my sole office-mate here in Shanghai for the past 2+ years. He was working with CWEF for about 2 years before that out of our temporary earthquake relief office in Sichuan. We will miss him, but we know this is a good step for his life and growth. The joyful news from CM is that he is recently engaged to a wonderful local Shanghainese woman. They met through their home fellowship and will be married in November. Please pray for their wedding preparations and for joy in their new life together.