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Mission: Possible 2008

Dispatches

 

Mountain litter

A mountain looms between waving Buddhist prayer flags in China. There is a great harvest to be reaped in China.

Monday, April 21, 11 p.m. Eastern U.S. time

Two of us have returned safely to our home in the States. The third member of this team is staying on to do His work in China. We remain united in our service to the One who sends us and look forward to His leading for future work in China.

 

Sunday, April 20, 2008, 2 p.m. local time, 2 a.m. ET

We gave praise and worshiped the Lord with about 250 other foreigners at an international fellowship church this morning. It is a church approved by the government, but no Chinese can attend unless they are married to a foreigner. We had to show our passports to be allowed in. The message was based on Isaiah 40 ("Comfort for God's people"), which was the chapter God put on our hearts while in the mountains last week (especially Isaiah 40:3-4 and 40:29-31). To us it was about dying to self-centeredness and withering so He can raise us up and use us to serve here. "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak" (Isaiah 40:29). It's not about what we do, but what He does through us to bring Him glory. We need to let go and let God. As the teacher at the church today said: "For all the (personal) monuments, those in heaven are not impressed and those in hell are not comforted."

It is time for us to pack up and return to the States on Monday. To God be the glory, forever and ever.

 
Saturday, April 19, 2008, 9 p.m. local time, 9 a.m. ET

We did some bouldering today, putting up a couple new routes. The location was a park with tributes to Buddha chiseled into rock that God made. We climbed over the Buddhist sayings and gave thanks for the Rock of our salvation. We're looking forward to worshiping Him on Sunday.

 
Saturday, April 19, 2008, 9 a.m. local time, 9 p.m. Friday ET

We returned last night to the jump-off city from which our mission began. It was a 12-hour bus ride across the province. Before leaving the mountain area where we were visiting we met with another new friend to discuss another project. This one is also God-inspired, and very exciting. We are looking forward to serving here in the future.

 
Thursday, April 17, 2008, 7 p.m. local time, 7 a.m. ET

Last night we met with a man who works with the people group from which the man who accepted Christ the other day is a member. We discussed the village where we were and the challenges we faced there. He told us he was not surprised. Apparently there is a cult that calls itself Christian, but really isn't that has been preaching throughout the region. They believe in works over grace, that believers will fly to heaven, and that Jesus (or His brother) is on the earth now in China. This is confusing people who meet real Christians such as us. So we have another challenge in a land of many challenges.

Today we visited a Buddhist monestary that has become a huge tourist attraction. Foreigners walking around thinking how great the Buddhist religion is, totally unaware of the sad lives of desperation its believers are living. We have been praying for these people and the many others we have encountered from so many people groups during our visit. We've also been blessed to spend time with those working here long-term, and hope that these times of fellowship have blessed them as well.

 
Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 7 p.m. local time, 7 a.m. ET
 
We left the mountain village where we believe the Lord wants us to minister and returned to the city that was our jumping off point last week. We met with another guide and potential partner on the way out of town. We have many ideas and plans are in the making for work to be done here. We are convicted that God has opened doors and wants us to walk through. All is well in our corner of China. We even ate Western food tonight after 12 days of Chinese and Tibetan cuisine.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We met with three guides last night and today to assess their knowledge and gear. They climb on a 17,000-foot mountain that has become popular with the Chinese, but the guides are totally untrained. They ascend a glaciated peak in sneakers, often with no crampons, hemp rope, and no idea how to handle crevasse rescue, avalanches or altitude sickness. They treat altitude sickness with water and brown sugar. A door has opened for us to come here and teach skills that will save lives. We will also have an opportunity to serve a lost village.

We were blessed with beautiful weather and in between meetings had a chance to bewilder the locals with some bouldering. We cleaned one boulder and set the first problem, dubbed “Overcoming the Despot” (V1+) for the wicked man keeping nearby villagers from the eternal salvation found only in Christ Jesus.

 

Monday, April 14, 2008, 8 p.m. local time, 8 a.m. ET

Our contact for the guiding project we are surveying finally arrived Sunday night. We met with her to discuss the possibilities, which seem good.

Today, we set out for the upper reaches of this village of 5,000. We purposely went to deliver the Gospel to Muslims and animists living here in the mountains of southwest China. We were able to share the Gospel at one home and the man of the house accepted Christ. We prayed with him, and gave praise to God. Afterward, he challenged us to bring more villagers to Christ so he would be able to practice the faith. The village is ruled by a despot who does not want Christianity here. There is much work to be done.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Our mission's motto "subject to change" has taken on new meaning on this trip. We arrived in a village we were scheduled to reach today, but instead of trekking in over a pass, we came by bus. A meeting we had scheduled — to discuss a project to work with the untrained guides who climb the 17,000-foot mountain looming over this village — didn't happen. It's now scheduled for Sunday. God has opened doors, but it isn't easy stepping through them. We are the only Christians here, surrounded by tree worshipers and Muslims, not the most welcoming feeling.

Friday, April 11, 2008, 8:30 p.m. local time, 8:30 a.m. ET

We changed plans again, delaying our half-day bus ride to a semi-remote mountain village until tomorrow. We went to visit a Buddhist temple on a hill at 11,200 feet overlooking the city we're visiting. We met a monk named Sanjie who gave us a tour. He told us his heart was heavy. We know the Answer to his problem. As we talked with him, Tsering had an opportunity to share the Gospel in Chinese. He said what we told him was interesting. Seeds were planted. After saying goodbye, we went behind the temple and prayed for Sanjie and all the mission work going on here. May the burden of heavy hearts felt by so many in China be lifted by Christ our Lord.

Thursday, April 10, 2008, 8:15 p.m. local time, 8:15 a.m. ET

Altitude (or the evil one) forced us to retreat back down to 10,000 feet. No horseman this time; just three guys hoofing it with 50-lb. packpacks. All part of God's plan, we presume. Our horseman from yesterday, a Buddhist, gave us a minivan ride back to the city where we'd left some gear with friends. We ate great Tibetan food and made new plans to travel bybus tomorrow to another town where we will continue to explore the potential of a climbing project here. All is well. God is in control.

Wednesday, April 9, 7 p.m. local time, 7 a.m. ET

We were driven by our other friend to a small, remote village, where we hired a local horseman to carry two of our backpacks. We set out from 10,200 feet at about 2 p.m., hiking the approach to a popular 17,000-foot mountain here in China. We climbed up to 12,000 feet in three hours despite really feeling the altitude (two of us were at 1,000 feet less than 18 hours ago). We established camp and will be praying about what direction God wants us to take with the rest of this trek. There are several options, but only one Way.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 9:30 a.m. local time / Tue., April 8, 9:30 p.m. ET

We just finished our 13-hour ride on a 28-bed sleeper bus. We're visiting friends and we'll be driving to another village to begin our trek.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 6 p.m. local time, 6 a.m. ET

We flew to another part of China this morning and were met at the airport by Tsering. We are a three-person team now. We did a gear sort and packed for our time in the mountains. We are leaving shortly on a sleeper bus to get to the village where we will begin what could be a 10-day trek. God has gone before us to prepare the way. We are His humbled followers. 

Monday, April 7, 7:30 p.m. local time, 7:30 a.m. ET


Walking the Great Wall of China.

We were driven about 2½ hours outside of Beijing to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. We hiked about 5 miles in 3 hours to the Simati section of the steep and rugged wall. This was our warm-up for some trekking that we will be doing in another part of China this week and next.

Sunday, April 6, 2008, 7:30 p.m. local time, 7:30 a.m. ET

For 500 years (during China's Ming and Qing dynasties) the Forbidden City was off limits by penalty of death to the general population. Now it is a tourist destination. The emperor of China was considered the “son of heaven.” Over the emperor's throne in the Hall of Middle Harmony is a sign in Chinese that reads: “The way of heaven is profound and mysterious and the way of mankind is difficult.” All of China's emperors have gone to their eternal rewards, leaving behind a Communist country that embraces tourism enough to sell US $10 tickets to thousands upon thousands of visitors to the Forbidden City each day.

After a stroll around Tiananmen Square we wandered to a sporting goods store that sat near the Wang Fu Jing Catholic Church (also known as St. Joseph's Church and the East Cathedral). St. Joseph's is one of the four principal churches in Beijing. It is a state-sanctioned Catholic church, meaning it is legal to worship there. St. Joseph's was closed by the Cultural Revolution from 1964-1980. Mao wanted the building leveled, but it was used as a warehouse. Now 200-300 Catholics worship there. An estimated 10 million Catholics attend state churches in China. Reportedly, there are 20 million Catholics and 70 million Protestants in China's church. But there is no telling how many Christians worship in church houses, which are outside of government control.

As we approached St. Joseph's a man said, “Come with me.” He took us behind the church. The man was a teacher for the church. We talked and when he learned we'd just purchased ping pong paddles at the sporting goods store, he took us inside to play table tennis. It was a divine appointment and provided a great lesson from one who has mastered China's national game. The spiritual void that exists in this country may one day be filled with our Master — the true Son of Heaven — Jesus Christ.

His mountains

Saturday, April 5, 2008, 9 p.m. local time, 9 a.m. ET

The two of us from New York arrived in Beijing after our 13½-hour flight over the North Pole. We'll be staying here for a couple days to take in the sights. All is well. God is watching over us.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Jesus astonished His followers with His words, His teachings, His parables. The disciples wondered aloud how anyone could be saved after He told them about the rich young man.

What he said must have made an impression as three of the Gospel writers (Matthew, Luke and Mark) all recorded the story and His answer to their question:

“What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

God makes ALL things possible, including trips into places where His name is not freely spoken, where those who follow Him are not openly welcomed. We go now to such a place. We travel not where we are invited by man, but where God invites us to go.

As the Climbing For Christ member who works in this part of the world (and who is one of the three team members participating in Mission: Possible) wrote: “These are places where others are unwilling or not able to go.” We go there because God has enabled us. He gave us this ministry to serve Him and those who need Him desperately. He makes it possible.

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