Developments in China and around the world over the last twenty months have changed the plans of most who are serving Jesus and the Body of Christ in China, whether in the mainland or globally. The control we thought we had over our strategic ministry direction has been severely diminished or completely dissolved. Moving forward we are quick to say, “if the Lord wills.”
There is a redemptive power in being disoriented and knocked off balance, with a corresponding sense of helplessness. When we’re driven to our knees, great and gracious things happen, including the beauty of intimacy with the Triune God of Grace. We don’t get what we want or think we need, or what we think he wants. We get him.
Regardless of the setbacks and detours, holding onto and being held by our Heavenly Father is always the best place to be. In the words of the old John Fischer song “Tunnel of Trial:”
And in these times of great suffering and pain, there is still so much more to be gained, for in our darkest hour lies his greatest power.1
I have always treasured the spiritually formative and pastoral writings of Eugene Peterson because he calls us back to the essentials of the gospel of Jesus Christ in freeing, fresh ways. In Living the Message—Daily Reflections with Eugene H. Peterson, he provides timely counsel for us all:
I have five items of counsel in matters of spirituality for all who hunger and thirst after intimacy and transcendence. Each item provides evangelical focus, precision, and rootage to spirituality. As we get it straight ourselves, we will be equipped to provide leadership to others, an evangelical leadership that is so conspicuously lacking at present.
1. Discover what Scripture says about spirituality and immerse yourself in it. . . .
2. Shun spirituality that does not require commitment. . . .
3. Embrace friends in the faith wherever you find them. . . .
4. But then return home and explore your own tradition. . . .
5. Look for mature guides; honor wise leaders. . . .
Spirituality is not the latest fad but the oldest truth. Spirituality, the alert attention we give to a living God and the faithful response we make to him in community, is at the heart of our Scriptures and is on display throughout the centuries of Israel and the church. We have been at this a long time. We have nearly four millennia of experience to draw upon. When someone hands you a new book, reach for an old one. Isaiah has far more to say about spirituality than Carl Jung.2
These words are invaluable for the definition of spirituality alone. Together they have been precious reminders to me personally as the ChinaSource team has sought to follow Christ’s Spirit along his kingdom path.
May we all cherish this wise counsel as participants in the rich legacy of his faithful ones, who have borne his yoke through the centuries and followed him through the night.
Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course!
James 5:10–11a The Message
Ways to Pray
- Praise the Lord with us for our new assistant content manager who will join the ChinaSource team on November 1. Pray that the onboarding process will be blessed and quickened by the Lord and that our new team member will feel warmly welcomed and encouraged by the ChinaSource community.
- We praise the Lord for praying, supporting, collaborating friends all over the world, who continue to bless and serve the Chinese people, the church in China, and the Chinese diaspora.
- For four vital ways to pray for a vibrant and fruitful international student ministry in China, see the article “International Student Ministry in China, Is There Still Hope?” in the autumn issue of ChinaSource Quarterly. (Chinese version available here.)
- Pray with us that the ultimate eternal impact of ChinaSource will be to advance God’s kingdom by making disciples of all the nations. Let’s pray and serve to see the heart of the gospel and God’s love for the lost shine through.
News and Notes
- Joann Pittman led a roundtable discussion during the annual Missio Nexus conference in Dallas, TX held September 22–24.
- On September 25, Glenn and Narci Herr joined the online 40th anniversary celebration for Jian Hua Foundation (JHF) put on by the US board of JHF. The Herrs served in the Hong Kong office of JHF for 10 years.
- Joann Pittman gave an online presentation for the University of Victoria Elder Academy Program on October 16.
In Case You Missed It
A selection of recently published items:
- Real Relations and Real Connections, ChinaSource Blog, October 20.
- A Repentance Story, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), October 19.
- From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom (7): Hui and the Cultural Revolution, ChinaSource Blog, October 18.
- Glory to God All the Earth: Songs of the St. Louis Jesuits in Chinese, ChinaSource Blog, October 15.
- Exploring the Academic Field of Chinese Christianity, ChinaSource Blog, October 13.
- China’s Aging Population and the Church, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), October 12.
- I Was All Prepared to Share—Or So I Thought! ChinaSource Blog, October 11.
- 5 Prayer Resources for China, ChinaSource Blog, October 08.
- Grappling with Multiple Identities, ChinaSource Blog, October 06.
- We Are in the Lord’s Care: The Testimony of a New Mother, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), October 05.
- From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom (6): From Warlords to Communists (1913–1949 and Beyond), ChinaSource Blog, October 04.
- The Importance of Praying for the Work: A Pamphlet from 1910, ChinaSource Blog, October 01.
- Christianity and the State—Dispelling a Myth, ChinaSource Blog, September 29.
- Churches Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), September 28.
- Christian Women and Modern China: A Book Review, ChinaSource Blog, September 27.
- The Pandemic’s Impact on Sunday School in China, ChinaSource Blog, September 24.
- Concerns of Cross-Cultural Workers from China, ChinaSource Blog, September 22.
- Caring for Orphans: An Interview (2), ChinaSource Blog (CCV), September 21.
- From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom (5): Hui Uprisings (AD 1645–1912), ChinaSource Blog, September 20.
- Counting by Sevens—Re-entry into China, ChinaSource Blog, September 17.
- John Fischer, “Tunnel of Trial,” additional vocals by Nellie Ward and Jamie Owens-Collins, produced by Dan Collins, Light Records, track 3 on Inside, 1977. Available for listening on YouTube.
- Eugene H. Peterson, Living the Message—Daily Reflections with Eugene H. Peterson, Harper Collins, 1996, p. 249.
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