Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Friday, August 18, 2006

Vision: Gansu Province 

Qingdao--Beijing Express. It was three weeks ago yesterday that I left Beijing on my way to Lanzhou. It has been a very eventful three weeks. One of the things I most wanted from this experience was to know experientially what God can and will do when we put our lives in his hands. Abraham tried it, and he discovered the blessing of God in far greater measure than he ever could have imagined.

I set out this summer not knowing where I was going, except that Gansu Province was somehow in my mind. I think the reason for that is that, when you live in China, Gansu Province is so often mentioned as a place where people are poor, and education is deficient. So, given my interest in rural education, I think Gansu Province was a logical choice. But that's what I think. Who can know the mind of God?

It's called "vision." A sense that one is supposed to move in a certain direction combined with a picture of what one expects to see develop as a result of that movement. I have, for many years, been obsessed with this question.

"Daddy, why do we need 'bishion?'" This is the question my daughter (Juliana) asked me when she was about 4 or 5 years old. She had obviously heard me praying for it many times, and wanted to know what the big deal was. So what is the big deal? Why do we need vision? I think the first reason is that we cannot see by ourselves. Bob Pierce, the man of faith who founded both World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, always said that you should never take on something that you can do without the help of God. If we would be used by God for something that will have eternal value, we must be willing to walk by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). And if we walk by faith, we must have vision--the ability to see things by faith that others cannot see. To call things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17).

This year, it seemed that I was a bit slow in getting a vision for what I was going to do this summer. I think it is partly because of a plan (which never came about) to have a family reunion in Japan. I had kinda put everything on hold just in case that actually came about. When it became clear to me that the reunion was not going to happen, I began to think and pray about where I should go this summer. Gansu Province immediately came to my mind, for the reason that I mentioned earlier, and perhaps also because it is on the old Silk Road. About Christmas time, I was talking to Abe, and he told me I should go to Yunnan Province, so I started to think along those lines. But I mentioned this to Jean one time, and she said, "Eric, you can't listen to everyone else. You need to do what God tells you to do." I knew she was right. Because of my sensitivity to the great need, I was very sensitive to suggestions. But I was being too open minded. I really needed to pull back and hear from God. Sounds grandiose. Hear from God? But if I am a Christian, I must dare to believe that God does lead us when we ask Him.

I seriously considered making a permanent move to the countryside. At the present time, it doesn't seem to be the way God is leading me, mainly because I really have a desire to see Chinese Christians from cities like Beijing become involved in helping the poor people in the western part of China. If I go myself, I must give up that part of my vision. So many NGO's that have worked in China, have been non-profits from the West, bringing western money from Britain or America and using it to pursue an agenda developed by outsiders. I don't want to do that. I would much rather see the development of a Chinese non-profit funded and operated entirely within China by Chinese Christians. But the picture just isn't clear yet. It is still a bit fuzzy. Lots and lots of unanswered questions.

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