Newsletter December, 2006

ORLANDO CHINESE CHURCH

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

November & December 2006


Thanksgiving

Having moved from Orlando three years ago, I am now spending my third Thanksgiving in St. Pete. When I first arrived, this was a strange environment to me, so I went back to Orlando often, continued to attend meetings at the church I was familiar with. Yet, in my heart I did not feel at ease. It went on for more than two months. Then one day a sister in Orlando reminded me that the Lord had led me to a new place, and His will was for me to join the local assembly. Suddenly, it clarified in me the reason I had not settled down in my heart. It was simply because I did not obey God's will. I gave various excuses to avoid the bodily fellowship of a local church. I forgot that the purpose of assembly is to worship God, not to attend for social reasons. This particular move showed me that the church proclaiming God's word is the house of God, whether in Orlando or in St. Pete. Changes in life will take us to different places, but never can it separate us from the love of Christ. We should not pick churches by our worldly standards. Wherever we go, we can find a church full of the love of Christ, if we humbly seek Him and obey Him.

Then I began attending nearly all the meetings locally. Every week the schedule was very full, but I received spiritual nourishment and my life grew. Wednesday night's study on basic truth gave a lot of "dry food". It is dry, but enhances my knowledge of God's redemption. The Lord taught us to build the house on the rock. The house is our faith and the rock is the true knowledge, with which we can stand against the temptations and will not fall. On Fridays we learned about prayer. I used to think that prayer was simply telling God about my needs. But after more than one year of study and fellowship with the brothers and sisters, I realized that prayer had to do with the sovereignty and unchanging will of God. It taught me to turn myself over to Him, for we were bought with a great price. We should not pray according to our self-interest, but humbly ask that His will be done. I also benefited from the Sunday services and the prayer meeting. I learned to be mindful of the need of other members of the body, and how we should live in accordance with our faith. Although I have to get up early for Sundays, and in the class we are required to memorize the scriptures, I know that I need such training. Thank God who gives us a heart of hunger and thirst for His word. Now the words are not only printed on the paper, but also on my heart. When I meditate upon the word, it truly becomes the lamp upon my feet and the light unto my path. Even in darkness I fear not, for He is with me.

With every fleeting day the church life has become part of me. The love among the brethrens takes me into this church family. The Lord said that He is the true vine and we are branches. We are to abide in Him, and His love in us so our joy may be full as we bear fruit. Although I am alone in the States, the love of brothers and sisters gives me the warmth of a family. On Wednesdays, the pastor's wife always prepares dinner for us. After class I can count on my next-day lunch from Crystal. On Fridays there were a variety of desserts brought by the sisters. On weekends their homes often become my home.....

My father has not yet accepted the Lord, but he often mentioned over the phone, "May your God give you peace." The Lord indeed promised that we have peace in Him, although the world is full of tribulation. He did not promise the sky to be blue always, but His loving-kindness is forever. The past year was full of sickness and difficulty at work. I have been weak and depressed. When the doctor told me that my right eye will never be fully restored, I did blame God. Then I thought about Job, and then Sister Crystal. She suffered more than ten years in her illness with pain. But she gave up no chance of going to the meetings, and instead gave out her love to everyone. I learned that suffering is a gift from God, for which I need to be thankful. Suffering brought me closer to Him and strengthened me.

There is a hymn entitled "Count your blessings". I know the blessings in my life are countless, but I am thankful for everything. No single day is a common one, but a Thanksgiving. May the Lord lead on always. (Kang)

Remembering Dad

December 12 is the first anniversary of Dad's departure. It seemed that not very long ago I was with him, then suddenly he was gone. The year was full of regret, self-blame and yet thanksgiving!

As a soldier through the wars, he was used to being materially poor. But this never changed his way of friendship and helping others. Our early days of military housing in Taiwan were very difficult years. Government subsidy was so inadequate that Dad often had to get Mom to sell her limited jewelry to pay for our tuitions. Yet when a beggar appeared or a request arrived at our door, he always gave out generously what little we had. As I went through his desk recently, I discovered in his letter file "thank you" letters from Zhejiang, Sechuan and Taiwan for sustained support and gifts. People wrote to thank him for his love, his help and his faithfulness....., from people we know, and many unknown at all.

Dad is truly a sweet person, diligent and frugal, and loved to read and sing. During our childhood we were so fortunate to have grandma with the family. She was with us for nearly forty years, cooking and nursing. Then how fortunate was she to have a son-in-law like Dad, who loved her, cared for her and served her. Years after she passed away, Dad still remembered her with wet eyes whenever we mentioned grandma. His love and respect for grandma were well-known among the relatives and family friends.

When clearing his closet, we discovered that many clothing as well as other gifts he received were kept untouched, remaining wrapped in boxes. He carefully kept them, not willing to use them for himself but stored for his sons and grandsons. He always wore his old clothing, and kept on using the old stuff he brought from Taiwan. That was typical of Dad, to suffer the self in order to enrich others with joy. He lived a clean life, paying special emphasis to us regarding the beauty of our culture and traditions. After he was touched by the love of God and converted to Christian faith, he followed the teaching of Christ faithfully with a humble love. Psalm 23 was his joy, and I Corinthians 13 was his motto, with which he witnessed to many relatives and friends.

During his final two years he became increasingly weak physically. In order not to alert the family, he kept his daily routines. He rose early and stayed up late to care for Mom, his friends, children and grand-children, hardly a moment for himself. Every time we came back from the doctors, he would be totally tired out. Yet he never complained but apologized to everyone for having troubled them. One day he told me not to deny anyone due to one's fault or mistakes, but have hope in the person by giving him another chance. He knew the evil of this world in man's heart. However, he held to heart the teaching of faith, hope and love, to bear all things, to hope in all. He said that knowledge is good, but to practice the Book of James is to be a true lamp stand. After he was gone, we continued to receive letters of sympathy and remembrance, which surprised the whole family. Dad's life showed me the importance of finding joy in giving, and starting peace by forgiving and forgetting the curse and hatred. Death will eventually stop everything, be it love or hatred, affection or animosity; so why care that much?

Thank the Lord, for in His good will of wisdom and love He took Dad home, so he might rest from the toils of this world. As he rested in the Lord's bosom, he left us with such a rich inheritance of godliness and the selfless love of Christ. His last day on earth was a happy one at home with us, a fact we should find comfort in. His life, his countenance and that warm smile remain alive in everyone who knew him, be it a friend, a son or even a distant relative from far away. (TT)