In Psalm 31, David declares that God is his rock and fortress. He asks God to lead him and guide him for the Lord’s name’s sake. I believe one of the most comforting things in the Christian’s life is the fact that God does lead us and guide us. When things don’t go as expected, we can trust that God has control. Even when our lives are steered in an uncertain direction, He has a plan. These thoughts filled my mind in October as our return date to China began to be in question due to several issues. First of all, my wife’s health, though better, still needs some time to recover. Secondly, I received information that, due to some new policies, I would need to apply for a new visa before returning to China. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to get that visa before the already scheduled date of our return tickets. Thirdly, our means of being in China has bothered me for some years. Our means for staying in China for the last 12 years has been split between support from America and a salary earned from working in China. The reliance on a salary from working in China has been the source of some conflict and time constraints. We have so many people to reach and so little time to do it in that I no longer felt it to be a wise decision to exchange our time for the rest of the support we need to live in China. For these reasons, we believe God has led us to extend our furlough to raise the support we need. We fully intend to return to the same city and continue the work there once we have finished.
In early November, T___ and I returned to China to clean out our apartment and put things in storage. It was a hectic but blessed time. The people were not happy to find out that we needed to take this time away from them, but they understood that we are trusting God’s plan. One big blessing is that the W____ family will still be there working while we are here. The church was still strong and growing, as it has been under R___ W____s’ leadership. Another blessing was that multiple people offered to provide a visa when we are ready to return.
Still another blessing was that God is clearly not finished with the work there yet. One of the young men, whom I had the privilege to lead to the Lord, came to me with his fiancée. They asked if I could perform their wedding ceremony when I return, so I guess they better pray that I get back quickly.
H____, T___’s friend, invited us to his birthday party. While there, I had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with his father and his father’s friend. They understood but were not ready to accept yet. However, they were interested in talking again. I told them I would be gone for some time, and we exchanged contact information.
I also met with a man named M____. He has helped in our church multiple times. He and his wife have been a blessing to teach. We have seen them take the things we have taught, apply them in other churches, and share them with other Christian groups. Many other blessings and meetings also happened while we were tying up loose ends.
On Thanksgiving Day, T___ and I returned to H___, I___, where, for the first time in 12 years, our family spent Thanksgiving in America. Our family was thankful to be together again, but we are also very eager to schedule meetings and get things going so we can return to the people God has given to our responsibility.
We are also thankful for the influence God has given us here. S____ and I are blessed to be part of the Asian Sunday School Class. Last Sunday I was able to witness to a visiting Chinese man, and S____ was able to lead 2 Chinese visitors to the Lord after Sunday School.
We ask you to pray for the Lord’s protection and guidance in the deputation process. Obviously, we want to get back to the field as soon as possible. We also ask that you be in prayer for the protection and growth of the church and the school in N_____. The pressure against house churches, Christian schools, and foreign missionaries is much greater in recent months than it has been in the last 12 years. Please hold up the R___ W_____ family in prayer, as they are still there leading the work. Also, pray for boldness and wisdom for the new believers and young Christians as it becomes riskier for them to speak with others about their faith.
Thank you for all those who support our work and for all those who are considering supporting our work. It is a pleasure to labor with those who want to lift up Christ. If you know any missions-minded churches that are looking to partner with us to reach China for Christ, please pass on this letter to them, as well as send me their contact information. Also, as always, this letter can be printed and circulated, but please do not post this electronically anywhere on the Internet.