Monday, December 24, 2007

kingdom of light shine on us now

i have a friend. i would tell you her name but if the wrong people read it, then she'd probably get questioned. i would put up a picture of her, but that'd have the same result. so i'll tell you her story. When i met her she was a soph (maybe) in college studying english. we met at the school cafeteria and had dumpling soup, because i told her i really liked dumplings (not so much in soup i learned). She had just accepted Jesus a week ago (on christmas eve) and was SO excited. We agreed to meet at least once a week to study The Book and just hang out. She quickly became my best chinese friend.

Sometimes we'd meet upstairs in a coffee shop to study, other times at McDonalds (one of the few places with heat and air conditioning). Every single time we'd get together, she'd rattle off a handful of her friends names who she had told about Jesus and who now wanted to study about Him with her. literally this girl was on fire, making the most of every opportunity to tell of the Joy that was in her.

one of the most exciting days when i got to "dunk" (baptize) her in one of the large rivers that ran though our city. I'm not sure what she was more anxious about, the obedience of this step, or the fact that her head had never been under water before. The second most exciting day was two weeks before i left to come back home.

we'd been meeting now for about 8 months and she was like my sister. My name was no longer anna but nana (a serious sign of endearment, taking the second syllable of your name and repeating it. only your BEST friend calls you this). we gathered the 20 or so students we had been meeting with all year and walked 5 flights up a dark stairwell to one of the students apartments. no air conditioning, 115 degrees, 20 chinese students and 3 americans. all in this living room. singing and praying and telling the stories of how they came to know Jesus. Their chinese was too good, and mine was not so much, so i only caught every 3rd word. and my name. how humbling it was to hear my name woven into their stories. i was sitting in the middle of a chinese house church.

two weeks later i left-and sobbed all the way to beijing. We kept in touch. sending presents and cards and photos and emails. every time i'd see the characters for her name in my inbox, my heart raced. i wondered what my friend had to say.

i got this email tonight. it broke me-and reminded me of how much i HATE satan and the light he tries to extinguish.

It is Christmas Eve here and I am thinking about you. My life used to be bright when i was meeting the other group members regularly and contact you often. You were my sunshine. I was happy then and I felt I was loved by the Brothers and Sisters and all my friends,especially by you. I shoud have kept following Him faithfully.But my faith toward him became weak since i met the chicago guy. I spent a lot of time sending emails to him and chatting with him on msn. I thought he and I would love each other and we would be happy together .So we met in **** this winter ,but unfortunately, he didn't love me . He just said" I like you " .It really made me upset. I should have listened to you and waited patiently for the one. Since I haven't gone to the church for several months, I could barely feel His guidance . I got a little lost.
How have you been ? I often thought about you when I was lying in bed quietly and thinking about those days that you were in **** .It was happiest days I've ever had. We hang out with each other and sang songs for Him together and studied together. I was so joyful and had a thankful heart for Him and for everything i had got then. I want to browse your blog often in order to know how you are doing, but i can't be able to browse it,because many western websites can't be browsed in China .Chinese government doesn't allow Chinese people to visit western website.
I am so sorry for not being so cheerful on this cheerful day. But I really wish you a white Christmas. And I miss you a lot a lot.

"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine" Isa 9:2

I'm praying in her land of great darkness, on the night she first met Him, a light will shine.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

wishing and hoping (and waiting)

so Henri Nouwen is pretty much THE MAN.
[from Watch for the Light, a collection of readings on Advent]

"Waiting is open ended. Open-ended waiting is hard for us because we tend to wait for something very concrete, for something that we wish to have. Much of our waiting is filled with wishes. We are full of wishes, and our waiting easliy gets entangled in those wishes. For this reason a lot of our waiting is not open-ended. Instead, our waiting is a way of controlling the future. We want the future to go in a very specific direction, and if this does not happen we are dissapointed and can even slip into despair. That is why we have such a hard time waiting: we want to do the things that will make the desired events take place.

But Zechariah, Elizabeth and mary were not filled with wishes. They were filled with hope. Hope is something very different. Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled, but fulfilled according to the promises adn not just according to our wishes. Therefore, hope is always open-ended.

i have found very important in my own life to let go of my wishes and start hoping. it was only when i was willing to let go of wishes that something really new, something beyond my own expectations could happen to me. Just imagine what mary was actually saying in the words 'i am the handmaid of the Lord...let what you have said be done to me" (luke 1:38). She was saying "i don't know what this means, but i trust that good things will happen.'"

and then Jesus was born. Holy heck. amazing!