“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized;
we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do;
we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side;
we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.

What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder
[not quite, but you get the picture; what’s important is];
what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives!”
– 2 C0rinthians 4:8-11 MSG

I’m not going to lie, these past few months have been all things busy, challenging, productive and draining. The term “the crucible” comes to mind. Ironically, I wrote about 60% of an update in early December about how insane November had been. But then December blew up in my face and I didn’t get to finishing it. For kicks I’ll be sending it out soon, so don’t think I’ve lost it with and don’t know what month it is. 🙂

Personally, I have been sick frequently since the start of December with various colds, an ear infection/sinus infection, the flu and asthma related side-effects. Don’t worry, nothing too serious. I’m finishing up my second run of antibiotics now, and I am feeling healthy. God has really been faithful to protect my lungs through it all. The very fact that I had all of that and did not develop pneumonia is a miracle! I am so grateful.

Many others here with me have had different illnesses as well. But we’re almost all well now.

Would you please pray for us? This has been such a clear onslaught against us individually and as a family. God has been faithful, but we continue to stand together against anything that might try stop or discourage us. You prayers united with our own are powerful, and we can feel the difference you bring.

While what we have struggled against has been intense, right now it’s one of my sisters here that weigh most heavily on my heart. “Hope” has been in our family for just over a year. She’s full of joy and faith. This semester she’s stepped up and begun leading our worship. Her heart of love for the Lord is beautiful, and she has led many others into a capacity for true praise.

Coming into her finals she has felt more and more pressure. Her grades have not been the best in the past, and if she fails one final she will be required to repeat this entire year of college. The stress of it has been evident in her for weeks leading up to now.

Then earlier this week she found out that her mother, who has been ill and in and out of the hospital, was diagnosed with colon cancer. The day before Hope’s first final her mother underwent surgery to attempt to remove the cancer. She remains in intensive care, and as of now has life-altering affects from the operation. These situations are such major trials and tests, and she is only 20 years old and is still young in her faith.

Needless to say Hope feels devastated and broken. When I saw her briefly two nights ago she was afraid of breaking down emotionally, and could not even answer me out loud when I asked her how she is doing. She simply clung to me when I hugged her.

Please, please be lifting up her and her mother. For peace and grace. For her remaining finals which end on Jan 23rd. For healing and salvation for her mother and father. That she would not break under this, but would come out stronger.

So we’re not giving up. How could we!
Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us,
on the inside, where God is making new life,
not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.

These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times,
the lavish celebration prepared for us.
There’s far more here than meets the eye.
The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.
But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
– 2 C0rinthians 4:16-18 MSG

It’s actually not all that surprising we’ve been so resisted, as we’re on the eve of hosting an amazing retreat here for our friends from all across the land. As usual we’ll be equipping them to grow, and growing their understanding of our extended family. Additionally, this time is going to be especially profound in that we’re also asking them to consider their futures and if there is any larger calling on their life for ministry, either domestically or globally. This is a BIG DEAL! We’ve never done anything like this before.

In many ways the completion of the vision God has placed in our hearts hangs on this idea. That we as foreigners cannot alone do this. There are simply too many of them whom have never heard, and too few of us willing and able to go. We need people here to catch the fire in our hearts and join in with us.

Please, be lifting this time up at the end of this week and start of next! That all of our communication would be clear and well received. That God would be preparing their hearts in advance, and would clearly direct them in this time. And that relationship and our unity would be strong and healthy for all of our beloved brothers and sisters.

Lives are going to be changed this week, and consequently so is the world. And I get to be right in the middle of it! My life is awesome. I cannot believe God is letting me live this.

For the Lamb who sits on the thone,
aka: 宋清溪 (Song QingXi = pure stream)