There has been much exciting activity at the beginning of the school year here as Concordia Shanghai is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It has been one of the great privileges of my life to learn with, be encouraged by, and to contribute to this community of learning and service through my work with CWEF, a long-time strategic partner of Concordia Shanghai. We are excited to see what God has planned for the next 20 years at His “miracle school” in Shanghai.
With the start of the school year, I have also been blessed to reconnect with several teachers at Concordia Shanghai who joined members of Christ Lutheran – Costa Mesa, CA for a CWEF service trip in mid-May to one of our HEAL health education project sites in China’s Yunnan province.
We were very blessed on this trip to be able to make great God-ordained connections with several members of the local community. One such connection was with Mrs. Yang, a delightful and cheerful older woman who I first met one morning as I was heading from the church building where we were sleeping to the latrine building down the hill. I ran into LeeAnne, one of the team members, who said: “Hey! Could you help translate so I can talk with this woman I just met?” With some difficulty, I was able to translate for LeeAnne and communicate just enough to make a good connection with Mrs. Yang. It was Sunday morning, so as we were parting ways I took the chance to say: “Will you join us at the church this afternoon?” Mrs. Yang replied: “Is that okay? I’m a Buddhist.” “Of course!” I said. “Everyone is always welcome.” Later that day, we were all thrilled to see Mrs. Yang as she ambled up the hill in her nicest clothes to sit with us at the foot of the stairs and tell stories, and then eventually as the service began to head into the sanctuary with the small contingent of local Christians, who welcomed her with open arms and sat beside her in the front pew, as the preacher stayed perfectly to the basics and spoke from John 3:16.
There is more to the story, which was written about beautifully by team leader Rev. Mike Gibson (previously of Christ – Costa Mesa and now LCMS Pacific Southwest district president) in this three-part blog post: https://stories-of-faith.blog/2018/06/09/mrs-yang-and-mr-li/
We are amazed to see how God continues to use the service of our CWEF team members, volunteers and partner organizations to bless people and make Himself known in powerful and often unexpected ways. It’s fun to play a part in what He is doing in this part of the world, and we are grateful for the opportunity.
I am writing this letter from Hong Kong, where we had our quarterly CWEF board meeting yesterday evening. Later today, I leave for southern China to take part in our annual CWEF Team Retreat. Our entire team from all 4 offices in China and Cambodia will gather together for a time of planning, team-building, mutual encouragement, prayer and worship that strengthens all of us for our work in the year ahead.
Following the team retreat, we will be going full steam ahead with the beginning of the school year, which means many of our education programs will resume, in addition to our annual collaboration with Concordia Shanghai – the TrIBES service learning trips, one of which I will be helping to lead in rural Yunnan province.
Thank you once again to everyone who offered prayers and notes of encouragement during Coco’s recent bout of hospitalizations and surgeries after Sophie’s birth in June. Words cannot express how thankful we are to God for providing mercy and healing for Coco, and to all of you for your faithful love and support during a difficult few weeks. Among other things, this experience has impressed upon us the power and importance of prayer in our lives, and the true beauty of the Body of Christ as it cares for those in need.
It has now been a full month since Coco’s release from the hospital after the last surgery, and she is getting stronger and stronger each day. Her need for pain medicine is finally starting to diminish, but she is still not able to pick up Sophie for at least a little while longer, so we continue to be grateful for her mom's presence and loving help.
Sophie is doing quite excellent as she has been since entering the world. At times, she is now able to sleep for 4+ hour stretches at night and has begun to smile and 'talk' with us. We are definitely having fun with her and are so thankful.
Last week John started preschool at Concordia Shanghai and he LOVES his school and new teacher. She and her husband are new to Shanghai this year, most recently at a Lutheran school in the Houston area.
With John going to school on the opposite side of the city from our previous home, we had to make a move to a new apartment, which we just completed over the last several days. The timing of this was a little tough, as I had to leave for this current work trip the day after the movers did their thing. Please join me in praying for Coco and the kids as I am away for about a week and the new apartment is still in need of a lot of work.
Prayer and Praise
For our family, especially Coco, John, Sophie and 婆婆 (Coco’s mom) as I am traveling for work, as we all adjust to life in our new apartment and neighborhood, and as Coco continues the long and slow recovery process.
Thanksgiving for the wonderful May service trip in partnership with Christ – Costa Mesa and Concordia Shanghai. Ask that God would use the relationships and connections made during the trip to advance His work.
For Mrs. Yang and Mr. Li, that the Spirit would be working in their lives.
For our upcoming CWEF team retreat this week.
For the TrIBES service learning trips at the end of September.
God’s provision of funding for all of CWEF’s planned programs and administration 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 CWEF’s work, that the Spirit would be working in their lives.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support!
Josh + Coco + John + Sophia // lcms.org/lange