Oct. 23-26. Repacking after one night was easy and we headed to B’s for breakfast. Poor little M. did not want to say goodbye to G’Papa and walk to school, but we wiped the tears away and P drove her across the street instead of making her walk. Since my flight didn’t leave until 11:55 a.m., we lingered over breakfast and then P, T and B loaded me and my two bags into their car. What I did not realize was they were adding another hour so we could stop at a coffee shop near the airport and have some coffee or tea before I left. They secretly arranged for T-2 to also meet us there. Rosemary had asked if I could get some Vietnamese cinnamon which is supposedly some of the best in the world. I had failed, but T-2 was determined to find it, and find it she did! She located both hand ground and store bought. The aroma smelt so fresh and pungent. We had a delightful time together which made the next phase all the harder. Before leaving the restaurant, I asked each person to give me their most important prayer request. Each one had a very clear desire that God would lead them into a specific aspect of the Lord’s work that would accelerate the gospel and reach the unreached in Vietnam. It is rare to see such one-mindedness in the gospel. This was not rehearsed. It was on the spot! It was real!
Need I say that the airport drop was very difficult? P drove and could not linger at the curb, so he drove on, but T and B took me to security. Somehow B persuaded the guards that I needed an escort, so they allow him into the airport with me. I can’t put into words the loving, thoughtful care T provided while I was there. The tears for both of us told the story and the gratitude that went both ways. I turned to leave and could not look back until I was well past the security entrance where we waved to each other for one last time. B was so helpful at the ticket counter, making sure I would be cared for all the way to Yangon. We got within a few yards of the immigration line and B wanted one last picture of us together. He enlisted a willing stranger. The next moments were harder for him than for me because I had learned his heart, and was confident God is going to use him in a mighty way. By his own words, he felt he had gained two Paul’s in his life, and number two was now leaving. I had gained a Timothy! For those who have never been to Asian countries, please understand that it is uncommon and not part of this culture for a man to weep in public. But he held nothing back. I was thankful that security took me through the diplomat line so I would be out of sight as quickly as possible. Just as I went into the concourse, I turned to see B still peering through the glass to see me for one last time. I have said it before, but it is worth repeating, that the bonds we have in Christ far surpass earthly ties!
Paul says about Timothy that "I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare" (Philippians 2:19). Is this the degree of our love and commitment to God's work in others?
Oct. 16-18. Early Thursday morning, we were picked up at the hotel by the faithful three. We dropped Tim off at the airport for his flight to Chiang Mai. These are always difficult moments for me as I feel so inadequate on my own. No one will ever understand what a “brother” I have in Tim. This is a proof of why God has created the church, the Body of Christ as He has so that there is interdependence, yet uniqueness. I will see him again on the 26th in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma).
I was taken to a different location in this big city which was some distance to the west. We passed through what they call the Chinese section which is very evident by the signs on stores and buildings. We stopped on a small side-street and waited for several men with motor cycles to pick us up. I wondered why this extra step since we went from the van only a short distance, but then we turned down a very narrow alley unable to hold a vehicle. At the end we drove right into the first level of a home. Again, I figured this was a security move. As the tradition is, we took off our shoes and went up to the second floor where they had a room set aside for the local church. The room was crowded with about 30 chairs, a table at the front and a white board. Worship began and was led using music on a computer. Brother B. introduced me and I had T. at my side for translation for the next three day.
I must interject at this point a very personal note about B., T. and their families. There have been many special people God has put into our lives through our ministry. But these two are rare. I have never felt such love and personal care for all my needs and even those I didn’t think I had. I was never allowed to carry my bags. Coffee, tea, meals and many other things were provided at no cost! I was so humbled by their sacrificial love and their oneness with the Spirit in the teaching throughout this week. May their tribe multiply around the world!
By noon on the first day, I sensed the Holy Spirit moving among the twenty six who were present. As we were finishing the first day, some were convinced that what they were seeing in Acts was what was needed in the church today. The evidence of their conviction was manifested by many tears and a prayer time at the end which I have never experienced before. Such openness of heart continued for the second and third day. Doing the lessons in Chapter Six was welcomed and when they shared their observations, it was clear that the Scriptures were becoming clearer in meaning, power and application. Several freely confessed sins that had hindered them from making progress in spreading the gospel like it did in Acts. At the end of day three, I saw something that had never happened quite like what was taking place with this group. Many said they did not want to leave though they had to travel long distances to their homes. They stood around discussing how soon they could complete the lessons and gather again to do the project and build a strategy for quickly spreading these principles throughout all of Vietnam. We must have stayed another hour or more talking to individuals and answering many questions that arose from the three days. As we left, there was a spirit of exhilaration and thanksgiving in the car as we drove over an hour to my hotel.
Oct. 6-10, 2014. I planned to print our Brochure, Letter of Introduction, Instructions for completing GPHC while I had a day at BCGH, but since it was Sunday, businesses were closed and the cheap print shop we used before had moved to an unknown location. So when I took the taxi down to the Holiday Inn about two miles away, my first job was to find a print shop. While I checked in, I asked where I could find one, and was directed down the main street outside the hotel and told to turn left at an alley. Heading in the direction I was instructed to take, quickly reminded me that sometimes it is best to ask multiple persons for directions and see which ones agree and they will probably be the best. Finding the right alley also made a world of difference in the surroundings. There were upscale shops and business, and among them a very good print shop that knew exactly what I needed, but could not do all the printing until 9 a.m. the next morning. I learned from the registration table that my presentation of God’s Plan for His Church would not take place until Wednesday. Waiting until the morning to pick up my print job was OK.
Eleven cases of manuals had been shipped from New Delhi, India where we had them printed (cheaper than in the USA). Four of these cases were brought to BCGH and I took them to the Holiday Inn where a long table was set up and I displayed the manuals, brochures, letter and instructions. I also put a small sign on the table; “Books are Free”. This was quite a draw because all the other displays from other ministries had price tags. There is a very powerful draw to persons when we offer the gospel and God’s truth free of charge – a Pauline model. More about the effect of this principle will be said in another paragraph.
The conference consisted of around ninety people involved in reaching Vietnamese through various ministries and missionaries. Each day began with worship led by a local pastor of an international church in Bangkok. Much of the first afternoon (the conference started at 1 p.m. on Monday) was used to describe Synergy, its purpose, goals and present endeavors. Key speakers presented current efforts to spread the gospel and plant churches among the Vietnamese. When we use that people group designation, we often think solely of Vietnam, forgetting that there are displaced Vietnamese in Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, the USA and other countries as well. You will understand the significance of this shortly. I was given two slots Wednesday morning to present God’s Plan for His Church at which I used a PowerPoint presentation that I modified for the occasion. Through Monday afternoon and Tuesday, several had spoken to me about the manual, but the interest seemed very ho hum. During these two days I tried to build relationships by showing more of an interest in others and what they were seeking to accomplish for the Lord than trying to promote NFI (New Foundations International---our new name).
Then came Wednesday! While there were four presentations in different rooms simultaneously, my senses told me that the attendance at GPHC would be very small. The first session started with only three or four people and grew to twelve in attendance. Though I felt very nervous in the three minute teaser on Tuesday, I knew the Lord was giving freedom in the Spirit as I went through the PowerPoint slides and I saw faces change. At the end of the first session, questions and comments were flowing very freely. In the second session, eighteen attended and one or two repeat attendees who wanted to hear it again. From this point in the conference, things changed dramatically. There was hardly a coffee/tea break where someone didn’t want to speak to me about the manual and learn more about how it could be used in their venue. One brother who works with the Vietnamese in Malaysia began sitting at my table every session through the rest of the week because he had so many questions and his vision for using GPHC was growing rapidly. To prove this point, he took a whole case of 44 manuals back to Malaysia wanting to train leaders in the church there so that churches would multiply among the Vietnamese. This same brother is fluent in Mandarin and wants the manual translated into that language as soon as possible so it can be used in China and with the Chinese churches in other S. E. Asia countries. Others were asking if they could take more than one manual back with them to which I heartily said yes.
There is far too much detail in the various conversations that came from this conference to repeat here, but I think you get a sense of what God was doing. Often our minds wonder where all the resources will come from to supply the printing in these different places. The more I see God working in ways like this the more my confidence in Him grows; that He will supply what is needed through His people at the right time. Where it will all lead is up to the Lord. I have a huge task of responding to requests for the Vietnamese manual and follow-up questions, but it is evident that God used this opportunity to open new doors.
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