Category Archives: Not for the Faint of Heart!
Going deeper in “living out our faith”.
Dr. Thuam Cin Khai ministered in High Point this weekend. He told about the Burmese Bible school he leads in Syracuse, NY. They have already graduated students who are now pastor Burmese congregations in America. You can contact the school via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is a jpeg of their brochure. At the bottom of the page is Dr. Khai talking while being translated by Karen pastor One Kiss of High Point, NC.
[ Treasures in Heaven ] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
Luke 12:33, 34
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Recently real estate investments have gone through a crisis, the stock market it sagging to record lows and people are hawking gold as the place to put your money. Needless to say there are a lot of people that have felt very let down by several earthly sources of security.
The Bible has a better idea, get you mind out of this 70 year race for the most toys, and put your focus on the eternal. Jesus said store up treasure in heaven. He said to do this by giving to the poor. He said this kind of investment is solid, it is something you can count on. How much time, energy, and money have you put in this eternal “bank”.
When someone new arrives in our country they often come with little more than the clothes they are wearing. They find themselves in a strange country, not knowing the language and looking to others for help. These individuals are motivated to improve there situation but for a while they need investments of time and energy by others. I encourage you to seek out ways you can build eternal treasure. Read the posts under “Myanmar, You, the Next Chapter” on this blog to find ways you can be involved.
“Labor not for that which perishes”. These words of Jesus from the King James text give me pause as I think about the treadmill toward retirement. Medicare, 401k plans, investments, and paid mortgages seem prudent but can we really put our trust in material things? What are you working for, what guarantees do you really have. How easily can we all end up like Job with severe setbacks. Our hope must be in Jesus. He is the Person we can trust. He has the resources to take care of us.
The other day I heard about one of our First Wesleyan Lao parishioners, who works eight hours a day six days a week. He and his wife made a decision to buy a second small rental house. Their primary vision for the house is to provide affordable housing for our Burmese families. I believe this is the kind of investment God can bless. I am going to pray that God would abundantly bless this man and his family has they bless a Burmese family.
When Jesus hung on the cross he did so willingly. In fact he chose to come to earth, to put aside His privileges as diety, be born and raised as a baby, child, teen and adult. It was further His choice to be sacrificed for our sin. A year or so ago I heard a communion homily about the blood that Jesus lost on the cross. In a real sense he poured out his life blood for us when he was nailed and pierced on the cross. This pouring out of His life is our game plan for knowing real satisfaction and fulfilment. Jesus said we must deny our selves to find ourselves. We must give up our life to find life.
Once when Jesus had not eaten, his disciples enjoined him to have some food. His response was that his food was to do the Father’s will.
When you find a ministry that is in the center of what God is doing, you will find yourself engaged in the most fulfilling and satisfying activity you have never known. You may become tired physically but you will be rejuvenated spiritually.
During this season of nine months involvement with the High Point Burmese, I can testify to the excitement, joy, fulfilment, meaning and breadth given to my life through regular ministry with these new friends. I want to encourage you to find a place where you can be poured out like Jesus, yet find a spiritual sustanance beyond compare.
During this past week I have had a couple of conversations that have caused me to think about immigration. Since I have become friends with so many Burmese, my views on this issue have changed. When Frosintina asked me “Where are the native Americans?” (their family had been discussing it), I told her about having lived in Oklahoma with Indian reservations nearby. We talked about casinos and cigarettes, about how many native Americans have inter-married and live in cities throughout the United States. The conversation also turned to the subject of immigration. We talked about how the native Americans helped the first émigrés to our country. They taught them to garden and how to survive the harsh winters. I told them that my family had immigrated from Europe. On my father’s side there was Irish and my mother’s side was English and even some French. Kay’s family immigrated from Germany. In fact Kay is a 3rd generation German.
Then yesterday I was talking with a Eh K’lu and Ywa Hay Thar about migrant workers that help harvest the tobacco grown near my house. We talked about the United States border with Mexico and how most of it is divided by little to no fence. I told them about how some of our U.S. citizens have negative views about all émigrés, others want immigrants to come in through legal channels, like our Burmese refugees, instead of sneaking over the border.
Upon reflection of this mindset I realize some of the negative and strident views I held on this issue in the past are so short sighted. What about the fact that some of my mother’s relatives came across on the Mayflower and were indeed helped by the then hosts of this country, our native Americans?
I have visited church buildings in Baltimore where one section was for the Irish, another of the same building was for the Italian. I am sure people during those waves of immigration dealt with issues of language, job displacement and swelling social and physical needs. However our country and more important our God have been able to expand and accommodate those who have arrived on our shores. In fact many of our relatives came to America because in their previous home, like our Burmese, they were persecuted for their faith.
I would like to tell you about three young
men who got off the plane at the Piedmont Triad International Airport about 4 weeks ago. Muh Gaw Hto, En K’lu and Ywa Hay Thar. These men had to flee Burma and live in a refugee camp outside of their country. Finally they were approved to emigrate to the United States. They live in a two bedroom house on Marlboro street in east High Point. Their closest Burmese friends are 1/2 mile away. But they are making things work. Eh K’lu and Muh Gaw Htoo learned to ride the city bus and get around town to shop and visit friends. Eh K’lu and Ywa Hay Thar are doing really well with their English and can carry on conversations. Muh Gaw Htoo recently got a full time job at the Marsh warehouse and Eh K’lu has a part time job the East Kivett Family Dollar. Ywa Hay Thar, who is a more recent arrival, found a long ago friend, Nyein, lived here and was active in our FWC Lao congregation.
I stopped by to see Eh K’lu after returning from a Maryland trip over the weekend. I asked Eh K’lu if he went to church last Sunday. He said on Sunday morning they waited and waited for a ride to take them to church but no one came, you see no buses run on Sunday. That brings me back to the old English word, “compassionated” that describe the heart of Jesus when he saw the people. Are you “compassionated”? Do you have room in your car for someone to ride to church on Sunday morning?
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was teaching about our acts of service before him and asked the disciples, “And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (Mat 5:47 NIV). He also goes on to caution us to not do our acts of charity to be seen of men, but that is another thought for meditation.
Recently I had occasion to talk with a woman who was doing volunteer work with some Burmese refugees for her local Mormon “church”. When she heard that I had been helping with the Burmese at our church, she said “We are the same, both helping our church.”
This comment has caused me to meditate on this subject. What is the difference between the efforts of this lady and myself? I invite your comments. Read some of my previous postings and then participate in this discussion.
I guess I will never know all that God intends to do with the country of Burma but there are some things that have happened in recent years that has caused the world to pay attention to this small Southeast Asian country.
Twelve years ago, Burmese native Aung San Suu Kyi., won the Noble Peace Prize. She was subsequently put under house arrest.
Around three years ago my friend Tom White with the Voice of the Martyrs called for prayer for the people of Burma, highlighting it in their monthly magazine.
About two years ago the Buddhist monks of Burma protested against the government and were incarcerated.
A couple of months ago cyclone Nargis devasted Burma and many people died from a tidal surge. First lady, Laura Bush, had an unprecedented press conference requesting the free flow of emergency provisions in the light of the recent cyclone.
Two weeks ago international publication Reader’s Digest, did an article in the July, 2008 edition on page 128 about the plight of the Burmese.
When you take all of these things together you see a great big spot light on Burma with the international community asking the question of the ruling military junta, “What in the world are you doing to your people?” Although the human suffering and death is hard to accept, I wonder if there might be some global perspective changes ahead for the people of Burma. We need to pray for the people of Burma. Particularly lift up the Christians who are being subjected to persecution and martyrdom.
In case you wonder why I call this country Burma, it is because our nation, America, has never recognized the military junta. The politically correct have adopted the illegal junta’s name of Myanmar.
When Jesus told us to visit the widows, care for the fatherless, and the scriptures teach us to provide for the aliens among us, reach out to the lame and the blind, Jesus did not say, “By the way there is an IRS approved tax deduction in it for you”. Our country has been blessed with tax legislation that recognizes a lot of charitable activity. However sometimes we may be called by the Lord to give to someone with a need with no chance for a deduction. In fact those kinds of gifts may be closer to what Jesus meant when he said, “When you give, do not let the left hand know what the right hand does”.
A small portion of living out your love for God may be money. More important is an attitude of the heart, setting aside time to serve, driving to the “scary” parts of town, doing some things you have never done before and learning new ways to do old things. Jesus would have us to do the will of the Father. My desire for you who are reading this is that you may listen to the voice of God and respond to what He is calling you to do. This is what charity is really about.
On the airplane yesterday I read from a book entitled Crazy Love by Francis Chan. He said “People who are obsessed with God are known as givers, not takers. Obsessed people genuinely think that others matter as much as they do, and they are particularly aware of those who are poor around the world”.
Listen to these words of the apostle James (James 2:14-16 Message) Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup–where does that get you?
Francis Chan, a pastor of a large congregation in southern California, practices what he preaches. After returning from a trip to Africa, he sold his house and moved his family into a house half the size so that he could give to the poor. I dare you to read what he says about lukewarm Christians. He is doing things with his life like the prophets of old to illustrate what is said in God’s word. Take 15 minutes to hear him talk about Crazy Love at www.juststopandthink.com.
So what about my Burmese friends, why don’t you look at my post Myamar – You – The next chapter….