Hong Kong Birthday Gang!
Pilgrimage: Hong Kong--The Journey's Beginning
Please indulge me: I didn’t finish the “Pilgrimage” stories—and have one more I’d like to share before moving on. This week, you’ll be receiving a journal entry each day for 4 days—offering you some highlights of “God at work” during the last 4 months of 2010.
Having lived in Asia for nearly 20 years, I knew that my 60th birthday had to be celebrated well. For Asians, the 60th birthday is “The Biggie”—the completion of the 5th cycle of 12 years. You may know that I began my “international life” in Hong Kong in 1978 where I taught at the International School there. Three of my closest friends were also celebrating 60th birthdays during this year—all of whom had “Hong Kong lives” with me—and I used air miles to help get us all there to celebrate our friendship and our 60 years of God-blessed lives. One of them is struggling with a life-threatening disease, so it felt imperative to “seize the moment” and celebrate the years that we’ve had. It was amazing that everyone could clear their schedules to be together!
It couldn’t have been a better week! Each of us had a “designated day” of celebration, designed especially for the designee. Other friends who still live in Hong Kong joined in the joy. We thanked God and wonderfully celebrated the special gifts with which each had been created, and for our long-lasting friendships.
You can imagine how many memories were shared! Hong Kong was my first experience living overseas—and the whole time I was there, I felt like I was Cinderella at the ball. It is an amazing, dynamic city, and I had a great job and wonderful friends. And every school holiday (and there were many) we were all off to visit a new country for a new travel adventure.
At the end of 4 years, in 1982, I had to renew my contract at the school and consider seriously what I should do. Would I continue living my exciting, adventurous—and financially secure life? Or??? I felt that I could not continue growing professionally if I stayed at the school, so made the decision to resign—and find another international school in Asia which would offer me new cultural and professional challenges—but the same financial security and close proximity to my friends and the city I loved.
I was offered the perfect, new job—helping to begin a new school just over the border from Hong Kong, in Guangzhou, China. It would offer new opportunities for growth, was close to Hong Kong and my friends—and offered financial security. What more could I ask for? Surely, this is where God wanted me to be!
On the short flight home to Hong Kong, I prayed about the decision—even though it seemed like a “no-brainer”. And the more I prayed, the more depressed I felt. “Where is this depression coming from, God? I should only feel excited about the possibilities?” And then the stunning thought crossed my mind “You have to say ‘no’ to this job”…and on its heels, I was flooded by the most amazing sense of peace. I had prayed for peace to guide my decision. I had my answer.
I was 3 weeks away from leaving the city and friends I loved—and I still had no job and nowhere to send my shipment. One Thursday evening, I attended a lecture given by a missionary friend, and also in attendance were Loren and Ruth Noren--long-time, legendary IM missionaries to China and Hong Kong. I had the highest admiration for Loren and Ruth—and was honored to know them as friends. Loren commented to me that he heard I was leaving Hong Kong—and then his next words stunned me “Have you ever thought about coming back and joining us as a missionary?”
No way, I thought to myself. There’s no way that I could be a missionary. I don’t speak other languages, and I just don’t have the gifts or skills that being a missionary require. No way.
But Loren’s words just kept going through my mind over that week-end “Have you ever thought about coming back as a missionary”…..over and over and over.
The following Sunday, I was leading worship in my church, and we were singing that great hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. We got to the last verse “…..love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”. And in front of my Hong Kong church family and friends, I started to sob, and continued through the service. God was gently telling me that if I loved Him, then I would follow Him….wherever…. And in following Him, whatever gifts and skills I felt I lacked, He would provide—just at the moment when I needed them for the next step of the journey. Isn’t that what the “Gifts of the Spirit” are all about--gifting us with what we need for the next step of the Call?
God’s Call first led to seminary, and then back to Asia… as an IM missionary.
My heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude and love for God’s leading and provision during these 60 incredible years. THANK YOU for the way God has used You to encourage, pray for and support me! And the journey continues….