Tag Archives: be bold

Full Circle

I realize I’ve never told the story of how we got to China.

There’s more to it than can fit in one post, of course, but last night a good part of the journey kind of came full circle.  You see, back in 2009 when I was searching for a city in China to meet foster mothers and study foster families and was shooting off emails to anyone I knew who had any connection to China (and fretting about taking a trip to an unknown place where I knew no one!), a friend of mine came through with a list of close to forty names of friends who might be helpful.

And I sent practically everyone on that list an email, but as it sometimes goes, I got only a few back.  One was from a family that had lived in Nanning a few years ago, and the woman said she knew foster families.  We started corresponding by email, and I’ll never forget how she called me up out of the blue in March of 2009 and said, why don’t I just go with you, why don’t I take you to meet my friends?

Visiting Angel House in Nanning in 2009 with friends.

We met up with she and her husband in Nanning for the first time in June of 2009, and true to form, she introduced me to everyone she knew, people who would become my research contacts, my tutors, my trusted friends.  And many thanks to she and her husband’s introductions, when it came time to choose a place to do my research, a place for my husband and I to make our home for the next two years, there was no question in our mind that Nanning would be the right fit.

Camping with our friends in 2009.

We camped with our new friends and their four kids in August of 2009 in the states and moved here the following one.  And last night, our friends who played hosts to us in Nanning that first summer had the chance to return to Asia for a brief trip, and share a meal at our apartment in China.

We filled them in on the adventures of our lives over the past two years here: our experiences traveling in Yunnan and meeting with minority Christians, the ways in which my research with foster families has unfolded and grown, and the countless learning experiences in faith and culture we’ve shared in this place.

Minority children in the mountains of Yunnan.

We teared up as I recalled the way this woman, who has become a lifelong friend, embraced my project as her own three summers ago, marching around the city and in her limited Chinese asking everyone and anyone whether they knew foster mothers. She inspired me so much, teaching me what it truly means to be bold and serve others and trust God.

Our friends prayed for us as we prepare to leave China, and we had a chance to thank them for their commitment and goodness to us.  I told them how my friend who’d emailed me all those names awhile back recently reflected that she’d almost failed to include their family’s information, fearing they’d be too busy or wouldn’t have any connections to China.

And when I think on God’s intricate plans, I know there are none more excellent.  It was so meaningful to hear their blessings prayed over us last night, people who in so many ways are responsible for the success of this journey.  And while it will be bittersweet to leave this place, the foresight of God to bring these people into our lives across the distance and over the years reminds me that God has been and will be faithful in this and every step of the journey.

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Be bold.

Be bold.

A couple weeks ago during the board trip for the charity I’ve been partnering with here in China, a board member challenged the China staff and the participants to be bold in the Lord.  And we began to talk about what that looks like.

Another Chinese friend of mine has been reading the Old Testament and contemplating the connection between prayers and signs from God (See Genesis 24).  We’ve talked a great deal about how we pray and how we might be bold in asking God for what we truly desire while not falling into unhealthy patterns of testing or bargaining with God.

And over the past few weeks I’ve been emboldened to pray differently, passionately, and urgently for the future I desire, for new post-China opportunities to serve God and to grow together in faith with friends and family.  And while I’ve not yet seen my Rebekah arrive at the well like Abraham’s servant, I can say emphatically that these prayers have brought me a new kind of peace in the face of uncertainty, they’ve opened my eyes to God’s work in my midst, and they’ve made me more aware of God’s presence in my relationships with others.

If those aren’t signs, I don’t know what are!

Early morning on Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam.

And just as I’ve heard God calling me to be bold in prayer, I’ve also heard God convicting me to share God’s faithfulness and my own efforts to be faithful with others.  What I’m feeling isn’t a naive conviction that things will go perfectly according to plan but that God will provide (as God has before), which actually changes my perspective in that I see the signs of that faithfulness earlier and more clearly than I might otherwise.

When I wrote about the peace I experienced in the midst of my Grandpa’s trials, I almost felt guilty, but I realize that this peace is not incidental or manmade, but powerful and why our God is worthy of praise.  I remember awhile back hearing a fellow person of faith say being a believer in God doesn’t insulate us from life’s struggles or pain, or even fear, but because we know we’re not alone or on our own in the midst of them, it makes it all decidedly less daunting.

Scenes from Halong Bay, Vietnam. All photos by Evan Schneider.

Likewise, because so many other friends chose to lift my Grandpa up in prayer and to honor his life, although I felt great sorrow in his passing, I also felt great joy that I had the opportunity to know him and to share his life with others.  Regarding our post-China future, I’ve noticed that instead of focusing on the uncertainty of our lives right now, I have this palpable assurance that God is about to do something great…and why not?

So be bold.  And while it may sound trite, be bold enough today to trust and believe and live the promise that God is good…all the time.