East Asia: Discipling First Generation Believers

We had a wonderful trip to East Asia.  We began our time in the capital city to acclimate to the 12-hour time change.  We walked over 17 miles in the day and half we were there, but it worked and we adjusted quickly.  While in the capital, we visited some historic and cultural landmarks.  One that particularly stood out to us was a large Buddhist temple just outside of the city center. 

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As we were prayer walking through the temple we were overcome by feelings of the darkness of the place and the sadness of seeing so many desperately seeking God, but directing those desires in the wrong direction.

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After adjusting, we flew to our primary city to spend the week with our partners.  They are lovely people, and we really enjoyed our time together.  On the first full day that we were there, we hiked up a mountain and prayed over their city.  It was a very special time of lifting the people up to God and asking him to do a mighty work in their lives.

 

Throughout the week, we were able to see some amazing things and meet some truly wonderful people.  The area around the city is spectacularly beautiful – mountains, rivers, farmland, trees, rock formations, and so much more.  We were treated to seeing the rebuilt and original Great Wall in an area that most people like us never get to see.  Our ladies made instant friends with everyone they met.  The people there were so interested in them and wanted to take lots of picture of and with them.  It was very sweet.  As they would take pictures and interact, we would pray silently for each person we encountered.  Being in such a remote area, we considered that we might be the only people to ever pray for each of them. 

One night we had a very special authentic local dinner complete with indigenous food, music, and singing. 

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We will never forget that special night as we learned so much about the culture and way of life of the people group around us.  It was also a great time to fellowship with our partners and a first generation brother around the large table inside of a ger (yurt).

Our ministry time was especially encouraging for all of us.  The men in the group met with a couple of young men that our partner is guiding.  We taught a lesson on the importance of purity in a society that has abandoned that value.  We were surprised at how open and vulnerable the guys were instantly.  The opportunities for this type of guiding are so rare that there is no time for shyness.  They have learned that they need to take in as much as possible when they get the chance.  There is no local body for them to regularly learn from, internet is restricted, and there simply are very few like-minded people around them from which to learn.

One of our ladies had a special evening of baking with our partner and her local friend.  It was a great opportunity to do life one on one and truly pour into our new friend.  It was also a nice opportunity for our partner to have her friend over to meet her American friend. 

We all had a ton of fun helping at a local English language book club for kids.  We were blown away by how smart, kind, respectful, and talented these children were.  They speak three languages and the oldest was probably around 12 years old.  We read the book “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.” 

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After the story they worked as a group through an “if…then” exercise in English where they recapped the whole story.  Then they did three different craft projects that reinforced elements of the story.  They each painted a 4x6 canvas however they pleased.  Most of the work they do is so structured that it is a rare treat to have creative license with their task.  They also made little mouse/cookie foam ornaments, and finally decorated their own cookies.  Turns out that cookies with icing and sprinkles crosses all cultural barriers for kids!  They loved them and had so much fun.  At the end of our time, they sang a few songs for us before they left.  We were so thankful to have the opportunity to spend time with local children as well as adults. 

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We also visited another Buddhist temple where our partner has made friends with a monk in the monastery.  They have formed a special relationship and it was clear that they both truly enjoyed the other’s company.  It is encouraging to hear about the significant conversations they have had.  We again lifted up those we saw and met around the temple.  How wonderful would it be to see that place someday as a place that worships the one true God.

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On our last day in the city, we split into two’s and walked around the mall lifting up those we saw and tried to engage people in significant conversations. 

The weather in this area reaches well below 0 degrees in the winter, so the malls are huge and have just about everything in them.  Each mall we went in had a huge old-school ball pit with a giant slide that led down into it.  It was packed with kids and families laughing and having a great time. We were especially encouraged to see how many dads were there playing with their children.  These kids were so cute!  Every one of them just captured our heart.  As we were enjoying watching the fun, it began to occur to us that most likely all of them were headed for a future apart of God.  We prayed and prayed over each little face and their parents. 

Throughout the week, it became abundantly clear that the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few.  Seeing all the people in the mall, all the people at the temples, all the people on the crowded streets yet knowing our friends are the only light in the area.  The task is so overwhelming, yet they are committed to following their calling and day-by-day doing their best to do what they can.  We also came to realize how incredibly difficult it is to minister in that area.  It is lonely.  It is culturally hard.  There is little fruit yet they persist as though it were plentiful.

Upon arriving, we quickly felt that one of our primary purposes of being there was to come along side of our partners and serve them.  We tried very hard to be listeners to what their life is like, to be empathetic to their struggles, to commit to pray for them, and most of all not to forget them when we leave.  We truly hope that while we were there we were able to encourage them, love on them, and in some way fill them back up a bit to give them strength to continue in their good work.

We were all so thankful for the time we had in East Asia.  It will always hold a special place in our hearts.  We ask you to please pray for our partners.  Consider all that you have read above and lift them up to our Heavenly Father.  Even if you do not know their specific needs, God does.  Please also pray for the people in their area.  There are a minuscule amount of brothers and sisters among millions of people there.  Pray that many would hear and many would believe.