Monday, October 08, 2007

Day 3A: Learning from a mentor

We stayed with our friends and missionary pastors in Reading (England). Pastor Sam and Teresa are an incredible couple for which I have an enormous amount of respect. They minister primarily to the Chinese speaking in Reading (primarily restaurant owners and professionals) through the COCM. Theirs is truly long term work - planting churches and building relationships with those in the community in order to bring them to Christ. Ours, incidentally, (and those of the CCM short term teams) is to minister to the British born Chinese youth who often are caught between two cultures and one faith.

I said that I have tremendous respect for this couple because, at least from what I have observed, this couple just oozes with the attitude of Christ. It is humbling and a privilege living with them even for a few days. Their practical, down to earth attitude, faith-based living and genuine love for people is always a joy to observe. Their daily habits remind me of what is truly important.

This is not to elevate them to anything more than a fellow brother and sister saved by grace, but I am humbled because I realize each time I interact with this family that there is much for me to learn.

Monday morning: I wake up early along with E-yan, their daughter. I want to catch a ride with them into town (where E-yan attends school) so that I can hire a car. Karen and I had planned several places to take Erich, and since many of those places would involve many trains and buses to get to, we decided it would be more convenient (and fun!) to hire (rent) a car.

As I sit, wide-eyed and bushy tailed (I am not a morning person...) on their couch awaiting their departure, I observe their morning routine: Auntie Teresa is in the kitchen busily preparing the meals she will need to cook that day. The BBC radio is blaring and the announcer in the oh-so-british voice announces the news. Pastor is seated on the couch doing his devotions and planning his day. E-yan sits at the coffee table perusing a magazine dedicated to prayer items of missionaries abroad all the while eating her breakfast. Few words are exchanged, but it is obvious that the Shams' day begins with the Lord in mind.

Teresa walks into the room when the news finishes. She announces that they are going to have family prayer time, and asks if I wish to join in. I nod. We pray. Quickly, one-by-one, they pray giving thanks for the day and asking for God's grace to lead them in their activities that day. They pray for us (even so we are on vacation) and pray that God would grant us an enjoyable time that day and that God would grant us safety as we drive. The three of them (and me in spirit) finish, and we are off to town.

As we are driving into town, thoughts running through my head are: how often do I wake up, and rush out of the house without so much as acknowledging God? How much more unified as a family would it be if I were to pray with my wife and son each morning? What I observed was more than simple ritual - it was practicing the presence of God each morning, and it was keeping one's attitude in check.

More on the actual trip we took this day in the next post. But when we came back that day, Auntie Teresa had prepared dinner for us to eat. It was a delicious meal! What astounded us the most was the number of dishes she had put out and the relative ease in which they all came flying out of the kitchen. We had protested mildly that she really shouldn't fuss over us, but in actual fact she really wasn't - making meals and serving others in this manner was second nature to her. In fact, the previous day, she had made a meal for her bible study group, as if it were effortless. How many times have I struggled to make meals for people coming over? It never ceases to amaze me how they have placed their home in God's hands and let God use their home for His glory.

We feel privileged to have stayed in their home and to have grown as a result. I have made a pledge to practice more of these habits. Though I am still only half awake in the morning, like a determined runner who is out of shape, I am pledging (by God's grace) to pray with my wife and son every morning. I am pledging to make my home as hospitable and open for ministry. My goal is to do these things so that they become so habitual that they become part of my practice of the presence of God.

No comments: