Thursday, October 30, 2008

$58 Guarantee of Love?

A hospital distributed makeup mirrors bearing medical ads to a Changchun university, reports the New Culture View.The mirrors were passed out at the door to the cafeteria to every student who entered from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.

The mirror was enclosed in a seven by five centimeter plastic case. On the front was the the inscription: "1,000 yuan in generous aid." Inside: "Ultrasound visual painless abortion (超导可视无痛人流): It only takes 400 yuan and three minutes for the safest guarantee of love," and ""Show this mirror to the hospital and you can get a female check-up, ultrasound, expert appointment, and early pregnancy check-up free of charge." And on the back: "30% discount on all female disease treatments and surgeries (vagina tightening, maidenhead repair, ectopic pregnancy, cervical cancer). Medicine during treatment is free."

The president of the hospital, a certain Mr. Wu, told the New Culture View that the hospital used to hand out leaflets, but their effect was not very good because too many people threw them away without reading them. The hospital is now using the mirrors in the hope that people will keep them longer. Wu also said that they chose the university to distribute the ads simply because university students are their core customer group.

When I read an article like this -- I think about the thousands of families waiting to adopt children from China. For about $58 (or 400 yuan) university students can have an abortion in three minutes, meanwhile, for $25,000 USD families can wait years for a child. Things like this make no sense. 

It is incomprehensible how anyone can murder a child and label it "the safest guarantee of love". Sad. Incidentally since 1973 in America? 50 million abortions. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
Psalm 139:13-14

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

perfect peace

坚 心 倚 赖 你 的 , 你 必 保 守 他 十 分 平 安 , 因 为 他 倚 靠 你 。
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isa 26:3

While I try to blog every day, there are days where that doesn't happen. So much has been happening in these days. After sharing the news of our transition to Hong Kong on Thursday at encounter, we spent the weekend in Montgomery with our family, spoke at Christchurch on Sunday, then went to another fall festival that afternoon, and then our week gets flipped backwards with encounter beginning on mondays for the next three weeks. Life is moving pretty fast. 

One thing I continue to experience is the promise and provision of peace - the kind of "shalom" peace (or as they used to say/mean the wholeness of God) when I stay my mind on Him. It's not to say there's not stress, or drama, or low moments -- but it is totally true that in those moments when I am aware of human frailty -- that perfect peace is my reality as I choose to trust in Him. 

By the way, Josh, our oldest son, has begun to ask me lately about "his" bible, and if i will tell him more stories about Jesus. Last week, he said he wanted to go "where you preach daddy". I am humbled by these words of his, and more than anything hope to point him towards Jesus. My desire to be the perfect father gains sobriety fairly often when he sees / I see how imperfect I am . April and I saw an old friend at a wedding this weekend, and she remarked  "Being a parent so reminds me of my sin and need for a Savior. I am in counseling because of it. I feel at though I am making no progress in my faith" --- Now that's honesty for you. She's right about the reminder. My point in saying this, is that imperfect people can and do know perfect peace - as we stay our minds on Him.

Friday, October 24, 2008

these people make me laugh.

Today for the most part is a day to do nothing, on purpose. It is so good to be around these little clowns. When Luke is old enough, I'm pretty sure the laughter will be multiplied all the more. It's days like this where its cool / rainy and we're forced to stay inside that random hilarious moments happen. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yes. It is true.

Yes. We are moving to Hong Kong next summer.
Yes. Encounter will be ending at the end of this semester. 
Yes. We still love you and still love Auburn.

After praying about this for more than a year, April and I sense a clear calling to move our family to Hong Kong, China. As we have processed this enormous idea, we have rested in the fact that God would make every step clear for us. In short, He has. The clearest confirmation of this decision is our unity; we are believing God together on this.

After sharing this burden and our vision for ministry to university students in Hong Kong with the Grace Campus board of directors, our pastors, family, and staff team, we have made the decision to re-plant our family in Hong Kong. With the approval of our board of directors, we will be establishing Grace Campus Hong Kong in the summer of 2009.

I can tell you that Hong Kong is uniquely positioned as a gateway city to mainland China. In Hong Kong, more than 100,000 university students across multiple campuses in HK live and study; about 20% of those students are from mainland China. Less than 5% of the 7.3 million people living in Hong Kong professs faith in Jesus.

For the most part, collegiate ministry is overlooked by the local Church in HK, but we believe this is one of the most strategic times to influence men and women as they determine their values and future direction. With great joy, we want to serve the Church by influencing the next generation to know and love Jesus Christ.

Imagine Auburn's campus if all the great churches and campus ministries were gone ... it would be a different place. Here in Auburn, you can choose from multiple meetings, worship gatherings, bible studies, community groups, and churches. There? Not much. In fact, very, very little is happening on the collegiate ministry scene in Hong Kong. Literally, people are hungry to know Jesus and not many people are there sharing the story of Grace. How can this be?

On November 20th, we will share the story at encounter of how God has worked in our lives, and our process as a family of walking into this next season of life together. We would love for you to be there!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

jet lag isn't always bad.

I got back from Hong Kong two days ago, and so far - jet lag is not so bad. The trip was amazing. 

God did more in my heart than I could have anticipated. I am so thankful for His clear leadership and for the provision He shows our family. Our hope is in Him. 

This morning, baby Luke and I are up really early together. Just the two of us. It's awesome. The house is quiet. He's having his morning bottle and me... well, coffee with soymilk because we ran out of real milk. His little leg movements and hiccups remind me of the same little season of life with Josh and Caleb as well. Life IS precious. The biggest thing I have come to understand about home life -- is that it's less about our address, and more about who is home. April and I have been talking a lot lately about what "home" really is -- and it's people for sure.

We could live anywhere I think, and as long we make / our families make the effort to communicate. We're home. 

Luke - I've read the accounts of missionary fathers who've left house and home on a quest for adventure, and forgotten their children. In my mind, their "success" on the field is immeasurably compromised if they fail their families. If you read this 20 years from now - please know you are true joy to me and I delight in your little life. If we go anywhere on "mission" in this earth, I hope you know how much more you are loved.  


Top lists -
Meals ::
1. ChiuChow Cuisine with Kwen Ip (where Scott ate a chicken foot)
2. Jasmine Thai where we laughed pretty much the whole meal.
3. Guys night @ Taco Loco. Yes, the couple behind us made out the entire meal. 
4. Dan Ryan's our last night, here's to "American" portions. No wonder America is fat. 
4. Early morning McDonalds with Orme, Hannah, and Mary Reading.
5. Amarone's with Maik and the Bell family. 
6. Passion Volunteer Room Pizza. 
7. Chicken bowls. 
8. R66 with our Auburn alum friend Chase. 
9. Outback with Robert before the rest of the team arrived.
10. Starbucks with Kwen. 

Sights ::
1. Passion HK - Seeing a picture of many hope in Christ.
2. The Peak on Saturday night.
3. The R66 360* view of HK.
4. Two park benches in Kowloon Tsai park.
5. Island ECC Sunday.
6. My old friend, Ocean, in the Central MTR station. 
7. The floods of 18-25 year old people. Everywhere. 
8. Our massive 400 sq foot apartment. Hung Hom = Temporary Home. 
9. Scott in the MTR ("Why would I need a TV if I have a mirror?")
10. April, Josh, Caleb, and Luke with "Welcome Home Daddy" Posters in the ATL airport. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

H to the K so far.

So far, this has been an incredible week, no wait... two days. Yes, we did fly into time from Friday dawn to Saturday night around the world. Sunday, we woke up and went to Island ECC. It's funny how you can be 8000+ miles from home and feel at home among other believers. We met our Auburn alum friend, Chase, where from there we went to R66 on top of the Hopewell Center to overlook the cityscape during high tea/lunch. More than anything, this was a good conversation. After lunch, we met up with Ocean and Maxine, two of our HK friends. We went to the afternoon service at The Vine, and after that we went out for Korean food in Times Square (picture above). 

Yesterday, we toured a school in Sha Tin and then met up with our new friends Alan and Maik over lunch, where we shared thoughts on collegiate ministry. Imagine a world city, like HK, with multiple universities: City University of HK, Chinese University of HK, HKBU, Hong Kong University, HK Polytech, Shue Yan University (to name the bigger ones and there are more). The Church is alive and well (small as it may be), yet there is an openly admitted gap when it comes to focused, intentional ministry to young adults. 18-35 year olds seem to be everywhere.  More on this later. For now, I can say after this lunch, we found ourselves in Kowloon Tsai park (where two summers ago I took Josh and Caleb swimming many nights). Scott, John, Jason, Robert, Mary Reading, Hannah, Katie and I pulled two benches together and we talked and prayed. Good stuff. A holy moment. 

Last night we went to Mong Kok / Langham Place to take in another scene of people / markets / smells / sights. 

Next post? Top ten lists. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

this is never easy.

It's 3:!3 am and my bag is halfway packed. In two hours, I'll join my staff team in the driveway, where we will load up in the GCM Excursion and drive to ATL where we will yawn and laugh, waiting to get through customs. Tomorrow, we fly to Hong Kong. This trip is meaningful on many levels, but most importantly, it is a response: Yes Lord. 

It is from that response that I can trust Him with all my hope and admittedly all my fears. There is something about leaving my wife and (now) three children that gets me every time. Those precious people mean more than words to me. 

Josh, I am so thankful to be your father. I am in awe of your curiosity and love for learning more. Reading the story about Jesus lastnight and your honest questions... and your childlike faith in God, is such a picture of the kingdom. You have changed my life forever. Thanks for being such a great older brother to Caleb and Luke. I love you. 

Caleb, lately, we have connected more than ever before. I have truly enjoyed every moment of being near you lately. We have laughed, tickled, and wrestled so much these days --- and you are still quite squeezable. You bring joy to my heart. I love you. 

Luke, what can I say -- these past six weeks. Life changing. The little moments we have shared are priceless to me. Putting lotion on your little feet, or changing the many diapers, or trying (in futility) to make eye contact with you...You are a great addition to our family. I cannot wait to know you and throw you in the mix of father / son wrestlemania. I love you.

April, you are beyond anything I can expect from a wife. Seriously. I am so very thankful for you. These past days of laugher have been rich. Thanks for being selfless and for encouraging me to do this trip. You and I both know what's at stake here. Good stuff. I love you.

the peacemaker.

So we are trying to teach Josh and Caleb to work things out -- peacemaker style. Rather than take the easy (and less humorous) way out of separating them upon conflict, we are "encouraging" them to work it out -- as in, put the toys down, sit on the stairs, and don't get up until you have worked it out.

Josh " It's my toy."
Caleb " It's my toy."
Josh "'s mine..."
Caleb " No it's MY toy..."
***** 10 minutes later
Josh "Hmm... ok I'll share"
Caleb "Ughh... ok, I'll share"


Now, just to remind us that these children are still in process, here is a direct quote from Josh while playing with both action figures later on that afternoon.

"I'm a peacemaker, and I'm going to killlllll you" 


Thursday, October 09, 2008

give grace

For those new to this blog - be sure to check out Give Grace for the latest updates on all the news. This month has been good - We've been able to partner with two local ministries: The Way Ministries and Love Is Free, both of which reach out in our area to care for people.

Also, we have been able to sponsor 5 more children in Bethany Village, Gaaba, Uganda. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

beautiful city.

Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it. Jeremiah 33:9  

This morning our staff team met for prayer as we prepare to leave as a team on friday. Next week we will explore the area, spend time on university campuses, volunteer for Passion Hong Kong, and reconnect with some students we know. 

Maybe eat some crazy food as well. Beef tendons anyone? 

We are excited for all this trip holds.

Friday, October 03, 2008

raising sons that will be men

Every father leaves a legacy behind. I am thankful for my dad, who never failed to show me, tell me, and hug me - all to say he loves me. Still to this day, I can count on him for those same things. Imperfect he is -- and so am I, but now as a father, I can see through eyes of grace, how in our weaknesses and shortcomings, 
God's perfect fatherhood shines through. 

For my sons, I know one the greatest legacies I can leave them -- is that they are convinced they are loved by the Perfect Father, by way of an imperfect father who knows the difference. 
These sons will be men one day who will know grace, love, and honor. 

pumpkins are nice.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

even elephants don't wait this long

Some African elephants have a gestation period of 660+ days. If you want to adopt from China -- well, consider the wait for a mother elephant, and then add way more time... double it. Best case for us? Around 1275 days -- and that can still increase.

Today, we received disappointing news. While not surprised, we were holding out hope that the timeframe for our adoption would not increase anymore. Originally, the whole process was 12-18 months. As time has passed, it turns out the process has grown each month. Our log-in date is April 14, 2007. That means, all of our paperwork was received in China (We started that paperwork in the summer of 2006). Currently, China has processed applications (meaning referring orphans to parents for adoption) through February of 2006. Ready for this one? The wait time for a referral is now 31 months FROM log-in date -- which would be (at best) November of 2009 -- but the wait time is growing every month by almost a month. Read more on the calculation.

What we know? 
God loves our Anna Grace more than us. 
God knows we'd get on a plane today to get her if we could. 
God knows the best time frame for her to be with us. 
God knows the longer the wait, the more awareness is raised for more than 100 million orphans worldwide. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

longhorn friends

Last night, we had dinner with friends, celebrating the 24th birthday of Cihan Uzunpinar. Jason and Scott helped us play zone defense with Josh and Caleb, while we caught up with old friends at the end of the table. Santa Fe Chicken + Bleu Cheese Wedge Salad + Julie's Turkey Cake. Good.