Sunday, September 01, 2002

Growing Up

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path… Matthew 13:3-4

Getting permission to visit an orphanage in China is not easy. Last year the Foreign Affairs Officer (FAO) in Taian arranged my visit. This year, the FAO was not available and the task fell to one of the University students. The director of the orphanage was reluctant, but with much persuasion and diligence on the part of the student, the visit was finally approved. After my performance for the classes some of the students expressed a desire to come along with us. Several of the foreign teachers (including my friends Jim and Deb Phalen), five students, and one clown piled into the taxi and headed off on a very bumpy life changing experience!

The children were jumping for joy seeing so many visitors. This would be a special treat for them indeed. The performance was filled with laughter, merriment and song. Afterwards, we presented a gift of school supplies and shared cake and cookies with them. We had a chance to interact with the children, talk with them, learn of their life in the orphanage, and just laugh together. Our goodbyes were exceptionally hard. Many tears fell on our way down the stairs. Sadness embraced us.

Brokenhearted by the faces of those left behind, we climbed into the taxi. As we drove away a student asked me, “Do you think a man grows by the experiences he has?” I told him in retrospect, having many years and experiences, I could agree wholeheartedly. He looked away so I wouldn’t see his tears, and replied, “Today, I think I grew up.”

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a 100, 60 or 30 times what was sown." Matthew 13:23

I can gladly report the Harvest in Taian continues. The University student, who acted as my interpreter, committed her life to Christ a few weeks after I left China, and is growing strong participating in weekly Bible study. Several of those who made the trip to the orphanage with us have continued for the last six months to make regular visits to see the children. They are teaching them English, sharing their time and learning that being available and showing up is 90% of any endeavor of the heart.