"And then he said to them all, "If anyone would come after me, he must
deny himself, carry his cross, and follow me." Lk 9:23
"Hey, Ken," I smiled and waved, looking at Ken and his teacher. "Don't
let me interrupt."
Ken was visibly excited to see me walk into the coffee shop, as he
stood up and smiled awkwardly. When I came back from the bathroom, I
found Ken sitting in the booth alone, his teacher having left.
"Ta chu nar?" I asked, prying into the whereabouts of his teacher.
"He left...I was just waiting for you."
Honestly, I wasn't excited to hear that;I was looking forward to
reading and Ken's assumption of the space to my right as we walked out
demanded the attention I otherwise would have devoted to this task--
I invited Ken to sit and talk on a bench near the campus lake.
"That's my favorite one," I said.
"The one out there under those trees?" he asked.
"Indeed, the one as far away as you can get," I answered, although
it was only about 50 yards away.
We walked to the bench and sat watching things happen in front of us.
"This is a great spot," Ken said. "You can see teh whole building
out in front of us and teh bridge over the lake."
"Yeah, and these birds flying everywhere, dipping down to eat the
bugs flying near the top of the surface," I added.
We sat for a few minutes longer without saying much, which I didn't
mind one bit, until Ken broke our silence. "Why did the Father create
I kind of turned my head toward him, squinting through the sun--or
perhaps squinting in disbelief that this question had just been
proposed by Ken.
"Um, well, Ken, that question has both a very simple answer and a
kind of confusing way to get there. Let's take a look," I said. I knew
Ken had been searching for some time now because we had had
conversations in the past about the Word and how it relates to our
lives, but here we were sitting on this bench in between lunch and the
next class period watching the birds, the trees, and the flowers,
getting ready to talk together about the meaning of life-- "carry his
I turned to The Beginning. Ken read about how the creator made all
things with His words and made humans in His own image, then we
discussed exactly what He wants from humans. We looked at two passages
that talked about sin and Ken said that he understood that he was a
sinner and was not able to accomplish his purpose as a human without
help. With this said, I once more proposed that the Son was the only
one who could bring him back to this place. He agreed. "Okay, I
understand," Ken said, nodding with his quiet consternation. I
realized that I didn't have anything else to give him, so I asked the
only other question that stood left to be asked.
"What does this mean for you in your life?"
"I think I understand some things now that have wondered for a long time."
"So, do you want to put your faith in him?" I asked hopefully.
"I think I do. Yes, I do."
"Awesome! Let's do it." I exclaimed.
"Right here. Right? Isn't there some ritual or something?"
"No, we can right now if you want," I offered. "Okay, I want." he
answered, "but I've never done this before." --"follow me..."
After we finished, we stood up and I hugged him. We walked together
to the ping-pong tables to meet with Jon and Jack, another Chinese
Ken said to me, "Remember the time we were on the train to Beijing
and I told you that
Ken and I asked for faith and that Ken would be cleansed of his
unrighteousness. I'm honored to have seen even a small part of this
process in his life and thank the Father for revealing his heart for
his people through the circumstances of the way he drew Ken and
continues to draw each of us to himself.
I'm excited to be returning to the United States in 10 days! Life here
in China is full in many ways, but I am pleased to be involved in the
process of reunion with family and friends over the next few months.
Please continue lifting up our needs as a team for the final week and
a half of our time here:
* For the continued growth of intimacy with our Father and each other
as a team (Tim, Amelia, Jon, Emily, and myself)
* For being intentional with good-byes to our students and friends
around the three campuses that we serve.
* For grading our final exams over this final week --> patience and
endurance in this task
* For reengaging with our families and friends at home
Thank you so much for your steadfast love during our time here in
Baoding. It is an honor to be with you in this project.