Saturday, January 18, 2014

Seminary Olympics... for the sport of it

The opening ceremonies
Seminary Olympics held in the yard of our home in Hong Kong with inter-Asian and inter-national students. .... something we first experienced at LSTChicago many years ago. The Hong Kong version included the 1) cardboard slalom doubles event, 2) edible medals, and 3) fastest recitation of the books of the Bible (in one's own language). Below are some of the top contenders, can you recognize the languages? Can you guess who won?

Notice the fancy footwear for the "slalom doubles"

Alas, the edible medals did not last the night...

Sometimes it's good just to have fun together!

You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. 
All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. 
You're after one that's gold eternally.

-- St. Paul writing in I Corinthians 9:24-25  THE MESSAGE BIBLE

Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Year and passport troubles in Southeast Asia

So this is how we started 2014... in a certain city in Southeast Asia along the Mekong, looking out of the hotel room at these rooftops, where a cat prowled for mice on a collapsed and rotted building just next to our room with its air-conditioning and room service menu.

We had had the following conversation with a couple of our LTS seminary alumni. One of the ways their small "start-up" church is serving is by weekly visits to the local hospital, to bring meals to patients. The hospital does not provide any food, that's the family's job.

"What if they don't have any family who can do that?"

The answer can swiftly.

"Then they die. That's the reality here in ________. If you don't have family who can take care of you, then you die."

This young couple is leading a young church which is intent on making a difference in the local community. 90% of their church members are university students, and most of these young Christians are first generation Christians, coming from non-religious and cultural Buddhist backgrounds.

The pastor of the church is asked to come in for questioning by the local authorities, on a pretty regular basis. So far, he's been looking at it as an opportunity to explain his church's special emphasis on serving the neighborhood, trying to do what Jesus did, helping the hungry and hurting, sharing basic ethics and teachings with other young adults and couples.

However the situation is tricky, and things could change at any time for this small but not-yet "official" Christian community, in a part of the world where freedom of religion is far from a given.

As if to emphasize the complexities of life in this part of the world, our oldest son was suddenly told he could not leave the country (and return with us to Hong Kong) because of a small tear in his passport So our family had to split up -- I returned with our other two sons and Wayne stayed behind to deal with the sudden bureaucratic nightmare. Long story short, thank God they were able to return to Hong Kong in time for eldest son to catch his flight back to home and life in NYC.
Does this look like an international trouble maker to you?

So, we had an interesting start to the New Year 2014!!! And have lots to think about, and hopes that in some way our work here can contribute to a critically conscious, yet also kinder and more hopeful world.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

(the Prophet Micah 6:8 ... also encapsulating some of the basic ethical principles taught by Jesus)