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The Surprises of God: A Trip To China

“There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsels–that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21. God is the ultimate Lover, full of surprises. It is mystical, and dare I say, magical, when we allow Him to take our hand and lead us.

Such was the case in our recent trip to China. With efforts so concentrated on North American, African, and even European missions, a trip to Asia was the furthest thing from our minds. However, when La Tascha saw Delta’s deal for a round trip ticket to Hong Kong for $422, which perfectly coincided with P. Scibelli’s scheduled time in China, perchance, God was moving. We bought the tickets by faith and continued about our business.

Just coming off of a trip to Zimbabwe, South Africa, and France, it seemed so crazy that we were going to pack it up and do it all over again in just two short weeks. Especially with things taking off in York the way that they were. But, by faith, we continued.

(From this point on, specific names and places will be kept general for the protection of the work in China.)

We first landed in Hong Kong and took a few days to get our heads straight (battle some jet lag and a few physical ailments). Then, we took a train into Southern China to a city called Guangzhou, the 9th most populated city in the world with 13.1 million people. Our church there hosted a conference and members of our churches from all over China joined us, even one from Thailand. The church is about a year old and full of opportunities for discipleship. Most believers in the church have been Christians for less than two years. Amidst a superstitious culture and churches full of false teaching or the wrong emphasis, building the proper Biblical foundation is critical. Bible College and discipleship are paramount. The Chinese are hungry and eager to be taught. So, if you are praying about where to serve next, consider this mission field. There is a window of opportunity right now that is not promised to us forever.

We then traveled to Beijing and took a tour of Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall of China. We had a tour guide with us for the day and ended up sharing the gospel with her. The time was very precious. At the end, we gave her a Chinese-English Bible and she said to us, “I would like to read this very much. I think it could change my life.” God so prepares us for his words! After all, we were designed to be his dwelling place, and he would like to make his home in us. We are still in contact with her and look forward to the day we hear she has invited Him in as her Savior!

Next, we went to one of our underground churches about 45 minutes outside of Beijing. This was an alternate service from the one on Sunday lest Sunday’s crowd be too large and the government crack down on them. It was an incredible experience and a privilege to witness. At the close of service, the pastor had the congregation reading out loud together in Chinese, the passage from Roman 8:28-39. Who can separate us from his love? It’s impossible! The gospel goes on!

Lastly, we ended the trip spending time with an old friend who now lives in Beijing. It was so great to see her, and we look forward to her coming to the states soon to be refreshed and renewed in the Lord. All in all, everywhere we went, sharing our faith was surprisingly easy and very much welcomed. Many people even speak English. It was an unexpected gift from God to go and participate in His work there. We had no idea how much China needs the gospel and discipleship right now. I’m so glad somehow God got our attention to go. In some ways, the world and our mission field just got so much bigger (1.4 billion people bigger, to be exact), and in some ways, it has become that much smaller and more accessible. These countries are just an airplane away. Even if it’s just a short trip, I recommend going. It’s very doable and the impact can be great.

 
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Do We Matter?

We were recently in New Hampshire as honorary guests to another church’s retreat. On the last night of the retreat, an impromptu discussion arose amongst a group of ladies gathered around La Tascha... "wait, so you don't believe in women pastors?"

This has been a common question asked by women all around the world. If not aloud, then for many, in their hearts. But, we know that the underlying questions really being asked here are: As a woman, what place do I have in a church? Do I have opportunities of ministry where I can be effective?

Less than 48 hours later, almost 10,000 miles across the globe, we sat in a shipping container in South Africa, where over 20 women were gathered asking the same questions. Fast forward one more week, we held a two-and-a-half-hour Bible College session with the women students discussing the exact same topic. Too many women, though hungry to live for God, “move on" in life because this question is never answered for them. The analogy I give regarding women pastorates is much like God’s instructions to Adam and Even regarding the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden of Eden. Too many women will never understand that the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil is not the only tree in the Garden of Eden. God's instructions did not only state, "do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil", but rather began with, "of every tree of the garden you may freely eat… ". But, how many women have been oblivious to the other trees in the garden and have only known about the one prohibition of the one tree. There are, in fact, so many needful avenues of ministry and impact for women, but unfortunately for most, they are lost in the clamoring over that which is prohibited: women pastorates.

The scriptures are clear that the position of Pastor is to be filled by men. There is an order in church government that God has set. But, that does not mean that women cannot have an effective ministry in the kingdom of God, because impact has nothing to do with position. It is possible to empower women in the church without usurping authority. Christ said of the woman with the alabaster box of oil, "leave her alone, she has done what she could". He said of the woman from Canaan, "O woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt". In both of those examples, the women were the ones in their respective situation that made the greatest impact. Dorcas was another example of a woman that had impact in the kingdom. We learn in her death of all the people that were touched by her life her because of the ways she helped and served them. So, too, can we ladies have impact in God's kingdom. God has given each one of us a very unique spiritual calling and as we get to know Him, our place and portion in the kingdom clear to us.

We finished off the journey in Montpellier, France, where we held a weekend women’s seminar on the necessity of a devotional life. The turnout was incredible. There were women of all ages, (hungry teenagers included), from all over France and even neighboring countries, that traveled to the south of France just for this conference. The women came ready to listen, again, seeking answers to deep questions that plague the soul. Again, questions of purpose, questions of place, and questions of value. It is clear that women are craving to understand their personal design and spiritual potential in the Kingdom. It is also becoming apparent that if we do not show them the answers to these questions, then we will lose many of them. May we endeavor to keep these truths before us as we continue in the call of God.

 
A Few Prayer Requests

The summer is coming to a close and we have a few prayer requests. Maryland Bible College of York is gearing up for their third semester. I am still in awe that the school even exists. We had our open house last Saturday and it was a very sweet time. The President of the York City Council, Carol Hill-Evans was there for our ribbon cutting ceremony. Pastor Jay gave an incredibly inspiring speech about the purpose of Bible College based upon Jude 22 which reads, "And of some have compassion, making a difference." This Bible College education is not an education for education's sake. It is an education for the sake of touching the lives of others. Amazing.

We have an incredible line up of teachers and classes this semester. One new class, in particular, has caused a lot of buzz in the community. We are now offering Spanish, with an emphasis on learning how to be conversational enough to share the gospel and the class culminates with a missions trip to Argentina between semesters. How cool is that!

Please keep our Bible College in prayer. Registration is open and we already have new students signing up. But, we want more. Classes are being held at Shiloh Baptist Church in York City and the location is central to Lancaster, Harrisburg, Gettysburg, and more. Our prices are unbelievably affordable at $100 a class or $400 for a full load of 6 classes (12 credits) because we want to train anybody and everybody to take this world by storm and make an impact. Please pray for more students from York and all over the surrounding areas. We want to fill the classrooms.

Secondly, September 9-18, we are having a booth at the York County Fair. Apparently, fairs and festivals are the big thing around here. The booth will be promoting our new church and getting the word out about our Bible College. Please pray that God would lead the hungry and desperate souls (whether they know it or not) to us so that we could share the good news and make that connection. We have the right message, the right God, the right people, and now we're just looking to let people know we're here for them!

Thirdly, we are looking for a church building and/or a team house. The benefits are endless, and it would really help us get a foothold in the community. Please pray that we would find the right property, and that God would provide the funds. It seems like buying makes more sense than renting given the real estate market, so we are believing God for all of the wisdom, guidance, and provisions towards that end.

Our house continues to be a work in progress, but it already has served its purpose in that it has been a true retreat for those who have come away to rest awhile. Pray for continued finances and provision in repair, renovation, and furnishings so that it will be all that God wants it to be for everyone who enters our doors. May God be glorified in it all.

Lastly, in general, please keep all of us in prayer. The days are evil (Ephesians 5:16), we have an active enemy, and there is real ground to be gained for the Kingdom! I pray that we keep ourselves in the love of God, remember the importance of redeeming the time, and guard against the tendencies of these last days as described in 2 Timothy 3. I often have to remind myself that there aren't many people doing what we do, and for certain, not with longevity. I musn't quit or get distracted. My portion of the wall is for me to build, guard, and repair (Nehemiah 3) so that the breach will not be on my watch by God's unending grace and mercy. It is my prayer that we all remember that, for the glory of God and his Kingdom.

 
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