Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Today’s Topic: Never Done This Before
Today’s Text: Acts 10:44-48 (ESV) 44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
I must interrupt the study of the life of Joseph to share with you some incredible news of how the Holy Spirit is at work in our church. Now more than ever we are on an adventure of faith in fulfillment of Christ’s Commission.
It all started many years ago as I sat in a local Asian restaurant having lunch. As I interacted with two of the servers the Holy Spirit reminded me of an interaction I had several years before that in another country with people of the same heritage. At that time the Lord had convinced me that someday I would be a part of a church that would reach people of Chinese descent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That initial vision was given to me twenty-three years ago. I have had it in the back of my mind waiting for the Lord to open the door. Four or five years ago, the Lord started laying the groundwork for what is now becoming a reality. A wonderful sister in Christ of Chinese descent began coming to our church, and had a ministry to college professors and students at the University of Wisconsin here in Eau Claire. She began inviting visiting Chinese professors to attend our church and be informed about the truth of the Gospel. Several of them repented of their sins and were saved by grace through faith in the work of Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection. They have since returned to China to do their part to spread the Gospel.
“So this is how the Lord will fulfill His vision,” I thought. But our Lord had even greater plans than that. About eight months ago two more Asian men who speak Chinese began attending our church, both of whom have known Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord for some time. It has been a joy to begin to fellowship with them. Then last night the Lord swung the door open wide so we (the Elders) could see the Lord’s bigger picture. Here’s what happened.
One of the Chinese men came to our Elder meeting last night to share his testimony and his desire to serve the Lord in our church. I didn’t know why, but as he spoke, in fact only about two sentences into his testimony, my eyes welled up with tears. I couldn’t stop. I wondered if he thought something was wrong with me. But there was nothing wrong. The Lord began to reveal to me the realization of a twenty-three year old vision. Our guest shared his experience in Dallas, Texas as a member of the council at a large church, and his ministry as the director of campus outreach to Chinese students at the University of Texas.
He went on to share his passion for reaching “his” people in the Chippewa Valley with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, explaining that there are over 100 Chinese students at the University here and over 200 Chinese residents of Eau Claire. The longing of his heart is to fulfill God’s call on his life to reach these 300+ people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’m in full-blown cry mode now, wiping tears from eyes as the Elders ask him questions about his spiritual gifts and previous methodology of reaching Chinese people in an American culture. I stopped them and spoke for the first time, with tears continuing down my face. I read them the passage of Scripture above that the Holy Spirit had laid on my heart, translating verse forty-seven into this current application. “Can anyone here think of any reason why we should not honor the movement of the Holy Spirit in this meeting right now and immediately confirm that Jesus Christ is calling us to plant a Chinese Church in our new facility?” The room was instantly filled with affirmations, and it was done.
The Elders of Calvary have officially decided to follow the direct leading of the Holy Spirit and begin an intentional process of starting a Chinese-speaking church in Eau Claire. I wept some more. I am weeping now as I write this.
God never reneges on a promise. He never withdraws a vision. He ALWAYS fulfills His purpose if we wait for His timing.
What a step of faith we took. We’ve never done this before. But God has given us a plan, and a person who has already worked this plan, and He has given us three Chinese-speaking people to be the launch team. Pray for us, in the same way Paul asked the people of Colossae to pray for him – At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ… (Col. 4:3)