LATE POST: My laptop crashed last week and I just got it back so I could finish this blog. I wrote this in the airport last Monday, August 13, 2012.
My wife and I are finally on our way home after a fruitful week here in Kuala Lumpur. We attended a gathering of youth pastors and student ministers from five different continents. More than once, Ryan and I asked ourselves how we got to that place. We were overwhelmed by the people we met and the stories they shared. It makes me eager to get back to work in Manila.
Some thoughts I wanted to share as we digest the experience:
1. God allows for great diversity.
Funny that as I write this I’m in Kuala Lumpur – a city with Malays, Indians, Chinese, and many other ethnicities. There are Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Muslims. I’m sitting in a Swiss restaurant listening to Malaysian music. The restaurant hostess looks one of a kind as a Malaysia woman dressed like a Swiss maid. It’s amazing how God made us so diverse.
And I believe that is the case with His Church as well. Listening to all the stories from around the world, it was mind-blowing to hear about the ministries growing in the thousands among so many different people groups – in relatively open nations like the Philippines or Singapore, among Muslim nations where persecution is terrible, with atheist background students in Germany, in the suburban US and developing African nations, and the cities of South America.
Heaven is going to be an extremely diverse place – all kinds of languages, skin colors, national costumes, music and dance styles, and food (WOOHOO!), worshipping the God who made us all.
2. God gives us universal constants.
Amidst the diversity, there are constant principles that hold true everywhere we go. This morning our Tamil taxi driver told us the story of his family. How he successfully sent his son to medical school in Ukraine and his daughter to university in the UK – all on the single income of a taxi driver. It was hard work, good service, family values, and financial wisdom that enabled him to do this. He could’ve been a cab driver anywhere in the world and he would have been successful beyond most people’s expectations.
In the Church also, while God grants us different gifts, there are constants outlined in the Bible that we would be wise to observe. With every story we heard, regardless of the context, there were universal themes that were consistent – small group discipleship, engaging youth culture, reliance on the power of God, and love for the next generation.
3. God values every stage and every season. So do your best wherever you are.
After the gathering, we visited our church here – Eaglepoint in two locations. We met up with old friends and made new ones. We met with two young professional women who have a desire to reach students. They were in the beginnings of forming their team, but already I was struck by their hunger for learning and willingness whatever it takes to succeed. I’m excited for the future of the church in KL.
On our last night, I learned so much from a young businessman my age who described his work to me. He had been through many shifts and transitions already, but his enthusiasm and faith in God we’re evident as he faced the future. It encouraged me even as I’m contemplating some shift in our life.
One thing that keeps us from discontentment where we are and envying where other people are is when we know that God is in charge of our seasons. We celebrate where we are because we know He’s in charge. We celebrate where other people are because we don’t need to guard our own self-interest behind the scenes.
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:26-27