Shanghai: The Beginning

Hey guys,

It is with great excitement to share with you what is going on in my life. There’s been quite a lot of changes in the last year so I apologize up front for a rather long letter. I hope you find this encouraging and challenging. 

 Post-Graduate

After finishing a graduate program at UCSD in the fall of 2008, I moved home to the bay area in search for work. The bleak economic state of the nation and the scarcity of job opportunities in the biotech/bioengineering field had me wondering how long I would be searching for a job.  My initial search was fruitless. Despite sending out hundreds of resumes, I was constantly finding myself losing out on jobs I thought I was perfect for. The highs of new dreams that came with each interview and the crushing defeat of every rejection soon took a physical, mental and spiritual toll.

Early in my job search, I was reading through Genesis and I remember telling my dad I was not sure I could wait 40 years for God to call me to where I was to go next as God had done with Moses. My dad jokingly replied, “Perhaps this is your 40 weeks.”
I couldn’t fathom the thought of 10 months searching for employment (as employment typically is tied to location) but as God would have it, my job search lasted exactly 40 weeks. Fun fact, I finished my thesis defense on Sept 11th, 2008 and the day I signed my contract for a position at Illumina was June 19, 2009 (That’s 40 weeks). While I don’t think that indicates that my earthly dad has the power of prophecy, it does indicate to me that my heavenly Father does things in His own time.

Through a rather tortuous journey, I landed a job back in San Diego about two blocks from UCSD, where I had gone to school for the previous five years. The irony might be lost here, but the whole time I was thinking that God was going to send me some place more…unique. 

You see, in 2006 I had gone to a missions convention in St. Louis called Urbana. While there God had opened my eyes to the calling that we as Christians are blessed to participate in. That conference was the catalyst that, when fused with the Perspectives course I took later that year in San Diego, changed my world view about how God intended to use people to further His Kingdom. I no longer saw missions as a thing that Christians had the option of doing, but as a calling for a lifetime.

It is with this mindset that I was pretty sure that God would be using me and sending me into the world. All this leads to my return to San Diego. 

“Physically strong, mentally awake, spiritually straight”

While it is still very early, I am already beginning to see why God has placed me back here. I am convinced that my best years in life are ahead of me and I believe that God has only begun to use me for his Kingdom’s purposes. God has provided me with an abundance of resources in vastly different areas here in SD; including spiritual mentoring, company-sponsored education courses, and physical training. All of this has been provided, as Eph 4:12 states, “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”.

A few months ago I began physical training with a friend of mine, David Pat, and through our conversations we came about the topic of missions. I’ve come to find out that any dialogue with this guy inevitably leads to a discussion on body building or missions in < 10 minutes. I learned about his China missions ministry that involves an underground church in Shanghai. My interest was peaked and I was quite ready to support his ministry…financially. 

 “Missions exists because worship doesn’t”

I will be heading over to China and working with a church in the Shanghai region from Dec 25th, 2009 – January 1st, 2010.

A few years ago, I realized that I was beginning to develop a heart for China. Perhaps it was the frequent family trips to China and Hong Kong that fed my love for that country and its people, I am not quite sure. More and more often, I find that my dreams and my ambitions have a path that cross through China.

As I evaluate the present reality, however, I am very aware of my inabilities and my short-comings. Chief among them is my complete inability to speak Mandarin and read/write anything at all. What would I have to offer? What use would I be in going?
I do not know.

What I do know, is that an opportunity has been presented for me to get a glimpse of what my future might look like. What missions and working with an underground church ministry might look like. What the challenges confronting Christianity in one of the top 15 most persecuted countries looks like. In essence, I feel like I’ve been told to go and this time I’m ready to respond. 

China

This trip will serve more as a vision trip than a typical short term mission trip. I will be shadowing David Pat and working with the local church in Shanghai. This is the fifth year in the partnership between David and the church and the focus of the team’s ministry is a three-pronged approach: leadership training in the church, college ministry, and working with the poor and marginalized in the Chinese society.

leadership training in the church
The church David works with is not part of the registered church and therefore is not recognized by the government. The majority of the church is in the working class young adult demographic.
Most in the underground church are first generation believers with many who are recently saved and new to the faith. Due to government censorship, there is a lack of Christian literature and solid theological teaching. Part of David’s ministry is training up leaders and workers. This will an especially relevant need as explained later.

college ministry
The goal of the college ministry is to raise up Christian workers who could become the future leaders of China. This ministry is in the beginning phases and there are many universities in the near area.

migrant workers and orphans
The third key aspect of the ministry is encapsulated in James 1:27, to look after orphans and the marginalized in society. China has had difficulty accepting migrant workers and their families, and often it is the children of such families that are most affected by this. Unfortunately, educational opportunities and resources are scarce and do not foster a nurturing environment to raise up healthy and strong children. 

I decided to team with this ministry for several reasons. I want to get a good, honest perspective of the life of a missionary and the local church in China. The nature of this winter trip is also to prepare and plan for the summer trip the following year where David will return with a larger student body. I support the missions focus that David has and this was an opportunity that met availability. Due to my inability to speak Mandarin, I will most likely be working in the college ministry arena and shadowing David to get a glimpse of the missionary lifestyle. 

Where do you come in?

The awesome nature of our Heavenly Father is that He is Lord over all the earth. What God does in the far reaches of the Earth is of paramount importance to us because it points to His complete sovereignty in this world. While we were still sinners, God demonstrated his love by sending His Son, and an even greater demonstration of love is His inclusion of His people to further His Kingdom.

Just as I have been extended an opportunity to participate in something larger than myself, I write specifically to invite you to participate as well. Whether you are in a place to be a prayer supporter or financial supporter, there is a need for both.
Prayer requests:

  • Recently the church has been regulated by the Chinese government and the group has been forced to relocate and separate into smaller groups. As mentioned in an early section, there are few leaders and this sudden church plant from 1 group of ~60 believers to 4 churches of 10-20 will require immense prayer, direction, resources, and training.
  • Please pray for the brothers and sisters as they have gotten the first taste of persecution and the reality of the price of following Christ. Pray that God would use this event to multiply his church and raise passionate leaders.
  • Finally for myself, if you would pray that God would use these next few weeks to open my eyes, soften my heart, and clear distractions so that I may be tuned to what He will show me in China.
I’ll be honest, this ‘walking by faith and not by sight’ thing is quite new to me. As unsettling as it may be, I take solace in knowing I’m in the hands of the Living God.

Take care and God bless.

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