Red Flowers for Him
The following is a piece written by a good friend of mine who is currently training native Chinese missionaries entering into missionary service to the largely unreached Islamic world. All names have been removed for obvious reasons.
Red Flowers for Him
The restaurant decor consists of garish red roses sweeping across the wallpaper, menus and chairs. A front door opens and a gust of winter air pushes in as another burst of arrivals noisily inquires where the large party of 40 is to be seated. In the increasingly crowded private room, expectant faces appear to be waiting the arrival of food Âbut something muchweightier than food looms ahead.
The details behind each individual in the room must wait for another day for the telling. It is enough to say that ten young Chinese individuals in the room had come to very separate and differently arrived at conclusions that God wanted to send each one westward to some unknown destination in the Middle East. Their paths had led them to this new place of equipping for a three month session of training in spiritual warfare, ministry among Muslims, cross-cultural training, and the list goes on.
On this opening night, some teachers, some pastors, some organizers and some translators have joined the ten new students to celebrate this beginning and to pray for and to challenge each one to make the most of this opportunity. Food is shared, life stories are touched on, exhortations are given, and expectant joy fills the room.
The road ahead will be difficult. The challenge for students from the countryside to move to cities within their own country is great enough. The challenge of moving into a city of another culture poses unique obstacles to these students. They are hardy people who already know about living on next to nothing, and can do so cheerfully.The rigorous schedules they proceed to set for themselves demonstrate their capacity for hard work. And their zeal for God seems to swell out of personal experiences of need that have been intimately met by their Lord.
But they are shy and unforthcoming in new situations. They have not been trained in the art of curiosity that fuels learning and exposes misconceptions. In the presence of real needs, they tend to make-do rather than to speak up. Theirs is a very simple faith uncluttered by sophisticated interpretations of this or that passage. They are so very willing to goÂ¡Âbut are they ready. Meanwhile, in the pre-Olympic year, China begins to tighten up on all religious activity with a grim intolerance. Just the acting of meeting and being trained is enough to send these students into incarceration!
Precautions are made to expose the study center to as little risk as possible, but the possibility of discovery is an ever- present threat.Reports of raids and arrests of personal friends and acquaintances continue to grow. But life must go on. Has there ever been a day when God's work has not been opposed?
Another band of rough and ready followers comes to mind! Jesus' disciples were so willing, so unwelcome and sometimes so off the mark. "Shall we call down lightning from heaven", "Master Off with his ear" "Let me be on your right and him be on your left, okay?"Jesus never questioned that they were the ones He was called to prepare for the task of carrying His name into the world after He had gone. Jesus' final prayer made clear the mandate He left, not in their hands but in the Father's Hands. "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." They are not of the world even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."(John 17:15-17,22,23) Complete unity!
Graduation day fast approaches. Each student must take the next step toward his/her calling. May the community of believers gather round each one, joining together to shine His glory. May each one of these garishly bold students from "red" China step out and shine a red hot love for Him that will melt hard hearts into accepting ones!