A Weakling and a Road Trip

It’s always fun to feel like you’re doing a great job serving the Lord… you’re using your gifts, acting in obedience, and best of all, seeing great results. It’s nice to know you’re doing the right thing and something meaningful is coming from your efforts. And then there are those… other times. Those “great opportunities” that are way outside of your comfort zone, when you fumble through, make more than your fair share of mistakes, and you look back with the only shred of pride being in the fact that you even survived.

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Hosanna has learned her first Chinese word- “lai” which means “come”

As it happens, I was privileged to have one of those such experiences just last week…

 

Josh and I had the opportunity to share about our ministry at the “mother church” of the church plant we are currently a part of. On the Friday two days before we were to share, I had to have a minor surgery that required anesthesia. I was told that most people felt back to normal within a few days, and by Monday I would be able to resume usual activities. Being young, healthy, and determined, I assumed I could be “back to normal” by Sunday, and would be totally prepared to speak in front of the church. Besides, I’d had anesthesia when my wisdom teeth were removed and that went just fine!

As it turns out, anesthesia does not always produce the same post-surgery reaction.

In the wee hours of that Sunday morning I was up with a fever, trying to decide how many times you have to throw up before a call to your sleeping doctor is permissible. Josh drove out around 3:45am to find some more medicine, and as you can imagine, we were both feeling a little less than perky when our alarms went off and we rolled out of bed to face the day. Now, a smarter person would probably have stayed in bed and sent their capable husband off to do the vision-sharing himself, but I had no such intention. Dizzy with dehydration and lack of sleep (but no longer nauseated!) we set out.

Thankfully, God had gone before us, and we were not preaching the entire sermon, but were doing a short Q&A instead. We walked up on stage as everyone was doing the shake-hands-with-your-neighbor portion of the service, and I whispered to Josh, “I feel like I’m floating out of my body!” The pain meds I had been prescribed had taken the edge off my headache and were now making me feel unpleasantly floaty. Though I’d been sipping Gatorade all morning, my mouth was parched from the dehydration and I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to move my tongue. In spite of everything, I felt the presence of God. The Lord’s message to Paul 2 Corinthians 12:9 circled in my thoughts: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

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Our friend Kerry praying over us at First Alliance

And you know what? It was.

As we stood by our little booth after the service, more and more individuals kept coming up to encourage us and ask how they could get more involved with what God is doing. We have NEVER had such a huge response from a church… and we had spoken at that church before! Within a week, God inspired new financial partners to provide nearly 1/10 of our total monthly financial need. We give praise to our Father, whose power is made perfect in our weakness!

This encounter with God reminded me that work is the Lord’s. Yes, Josh and I care deeply for the families and children we will serve, and we are honored that God has asked us to work alongside Him in Taiwan. But no matter how much passion and motivation and support we have, we are nothing without the Lord. But with Him? Anything is possible.

God has continued to provide opportunities for us to share His vision for our work. We will be driving to Texas this Friday (3/31) and making several stops along the way there and back. Tell us if you’re on our route and we would love to get together with you while we’re on the road. Also, we’re looking for friends to stay with in Waco, TX on Saturday night (4/1), so if you or a friend have a spare room you’d like to share, let us know.

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Wilmore to Texas

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Texas to Wilmore

We are down to the final stretch– 64 days until our goal departure date of May 31! If the Lord has led you to be a committed financial partner with His work through us, now is the time. It takes time for One Mission Society to process financial gifts, finalize our exit paperwork, and approve us for departure, so we must be fully funded before the end of May in order to leave by May 31.

Thank you for your continued prayers! To lift up our most current needs to our Father, check out our Partner with Us page.

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Peace be with you!

It’s Urgent!

It’s official- we’re commissioned! For three weeks, Josh, Hosanna, and I were in Greenwood, Indiana at our final training with One Mission Society. Initially, Josh and I weren’t too excited… three weeks in a classroom? No thanks! However, we were happily surprised by how impactful many of the sessions were.

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CROSS Trainers – Jan/Feb 2017

The best part of training was getting to know our fellow trainees. It felt like we were saying goodbye to a part of our family by the time our training came to an end. Coming from 5 ations, our group of missionaries will go out to serve in 8 different countries. So to our new family “additions”: thank you for inspiring us with your love for the Lord and obedience to Him!

I walked away from training with a renewed sense of the urgency of the gospel. It’s easy to walk around here in the States, seeing people who more or less look, speak, and act like I do- we eat the same foods, know the same idioms, and somewhere along the way I began to assume that each person I saw had the same opportunity to know God that I did. I mean, yes, I know there are lots of Americans out there who aren’t believers… but I assumed that was because they had heard the gospel and rejected it.

We had a chance to go to the mall in Greenwood and pray for those we encountered. As we strolled among the stores and middle-of-the-walkway vendors, I started seeing people in a new way. Instead of assuming they knew God, I started wondering if they’d had a chance to really know him, to understand His love for them. And if not- who was going to tell them? The Lord led me to pray with a Ukrainian man who hadn’t the slightest clue what I meant when I asked if I could pray for him (evidenced first by his exclamation that if I bought his hair products all my prayers would be answered, swiftly followed by his suggestion that I pray to his mother because she lived in the Holy City of Jerusalem).

My eyes were opened and I can’t go back… inch by inch, my passivity is being replaced by our Father’s passion. And as the normalcy of kingdom urgency becomes more at home in my heart, I find myself wondering how my care for the lost could have been so small, so distant in nature. When my world is revolving around me, my problems, my preferences, I’m so thankful for a God who will jolt me back to reality, to give me new focus on his holiness and glory. For a God who isn’t content to leave a single soul without an invitation into His presence.

God is faithful, and we trust that He will continue to raise up partners so we can carry out His work. We have a great praise that we are celebrating this month! God has opened the doors for us to speak at several new churches and small groups in the coming weeks. This is vital for us to continue finding new ministry partners to pray and give!

Here’s our current travel schedule:

3/25-26                               Pearisburg, VA

3/30(ish)-4/10                  Dallas, TX, San Antonio, TX (possibly Jackson, MS & Gonzales, LA)

4/14-4/19                            Canton, GA (looking for weekday meetings)

We are looking for families, groups, and churches to speak with on the way to and from Texas. This is critical because we cannot make the trip without at least one more meeting scheduled! If you are in KY, GA, or a neighboring state and have friends or a small group that would be interested in our ministry in Taiwan, please let us know! You are our most important asset in making new connections.

If God is willing, we will leave in late May. My sister Laura flies to Taiwan May 31 for a month volunteering at one of our partner orphanages, and we would love to fly out with her! Please pray for God’s continued blessing over our travels and speaking engagements, and especially our fundraising efforts.

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Thank you for your love and support!

Four Generations in Asia

100 Years with OMS

On January 20, 1917, the ship carrying my great-grandfather, Everette Williamson, and nine other single young men from the United States dropped anchor in Yokohama, Japan.  They came to Japan to serve with OMS for one year in the Great Village Campaign to reach every home in Japan with the gospel.   Everette returned to the States, married, and then went back to Japan with his wife.

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1917- Everette at a Japanese wedding

In 1951, my grandfather, Lowell Williamson, went to Japan with OMS to serve in the Every Creature for Christ Crusade for two years.   He then served in Taiwan for eight months before returning to the States to finish college.   After getting married and attending seminary, he went back to Taiwan in 1958 with his family to teach at the Central Taiwan Theological Seminary.

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1951 – Lowell in Japan with Every Creature Crusade team

In 1979, my father went to Taiwan to serve with OMS in English evangelism.  In 1991, he met Beth Hearn at the Taipei airport and six months later they were married. My brother Matthew and I were born in Taichung on the west coast of Taiwan.  Initially my parents served for many years in field administration, however, recently they have begun devoting their service toward helping families with children who are uniquely-abled and caring for orphans that are uniquely-abled.

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1979 – Rod teaching an English Class in Shalu, Taiwan

And now it’s my turn.  Jessica and I are honored to be the fourth generation of Williamsons to serve God overseas.  We are currently in the fundraising process but hope to move to Taiwan in May to begin language study.  Our eventual goal is to reach out to the unreached single mothers and orphans that are currently outside of the ministry of the church.  We are just as excited about the opportunity to raise our daughter Hosanna- the fifth generation of Williamsons in Asia- to know and love the Lord and to experience life dedicated to His purposes.

2017 – The fourth (and fifth!) generation

On behalf of four generations of Williamsons, I want to thank all of you who have supported our family for the last 100 years.  I know of one family that has supported three generations of Williamsons in OMS: my grandparents, my parents, and now my family.  It has been an incredible journey so far to serve our awesome God in Asia.  We are excited to see what God has in store for the next 100 years.

Hosanna – January 20, 2017

 

 

 

 

Originally written by Rod Williamson

Edited and posted by Josh Williamson

 

Prayer Update: December

Since December is apparently the official God-ordained month to update friends and family on one’s whereabouts and exploits, we thought we would take this month’s blog post to let you all know what God has been doing in our lives thus far and what we are praying for Him to continue to do.

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The OMS booth at the International Conference on Missions in Lexington

So as I’m assuming you’ve read our other posts (if you haven’t you might want to first) you all should know we are about 6 months away from moving to Taiwan to work with orphans and the unreached there.  We have seen God do some incredible things in the past few months as we prepare to leave.  Probably the most encouraging thing to us is that we are now 31% funded!  God has been so faithful to us as we have been working to find individuals and churches willing to  partner with us financially to reach the lost in Taiwan.  Every percentage point is an affirmation from God that His favor rests on our ministry.

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OneWeekend Fall 2016

On that same note we have seen incredible growth in the ministry we are currently involved in on Asbury University’s campus.  We are about the most unqualified people you could ask to lead a college ministry and yet we have seen God shower his favor upon us as we have worked to lead more college students into missions.  Over the last semester we have seen students each week gathering here at the OMS center to encourage and equip each other to hear the call God is placing on their lives.  We even took 5 students to an OMS retreat called One Weekend where they were challenged to look more closely at what God’s calling on their lives is and what’s hindering their obedience to it.  God is faithful!

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Hosanna is one year old!

As a family we continue to see God’s blessing as we watch our daughter Hosanna grow and develop.  She has come so far in the last few weeks. Just a month ago she was barely learning to crawl and now she is already climbing up on furniture.  Goodbye candles, goodbye coffee table decorations!  Her personality is starting to come out in little ways.  She loves oatmeal with a passion, she HATES peas from a jar, she absolutely loves being swung upside down, and most importantly she does NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, want US to feed her a green bean (she can do it HERSELF).

In all these ways we have seen God’s faithfulness. As we look forward to 2017 we would ask you to join us in asking God to continue showing us his favor and blessing in these areas.

First of all join us in asking for favor in our current ministry.  We know that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.  Our job here at Asbury is to encourage students to go out into the field and serve God as missionaries.  Please pray with us that more students can be encouraged by our work here, and that more will go.  This can only be done with God’s favor.

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OMS missionaries on the field are sharing Jesus’ love through Christmas events for uniquely-abled kids and their families.

Second please join us in praying for the hearts and minds of Taiwanese Christians to be opened to the young unwed mothers and orphans in their communities.  We firmly believe that the message of the gospel cannot be effective in Taiwan until those who already profess themselves to be Christians begin to live transformed lives and demonstrate the light of Christ in the darkness in Taiwan.  Pray that when we arrive in Taiwan God will have prepared the way ahead of us and that there will be Taiwanese Christians who are already called to work among the orphans and unwed mothers in Taiwan.  Pray that as we  work in Taiwan we will be able to not only meet the physical needs of the lost but also that we will be able to share the Gospel to those who have not heard it.

Finally, our greatest need is for God to continue to show us favor as we raise the remaining 69% of our support.  One Mission has asked us to be 50% funded by January 30th in order to attend a required training and be on schedule for our May departure date.  We need around $800 in monthly financial support to reach 50%.  Please pray with us that God will raise up individuals or churches to give (even a small monthly gift) so that we can be fully prepared to do the work God has called us to.

*If you would like to partner with us financially through a monthly gift you can visit our Partner with Us page.*

Thank you all for supporting us with your prayers!  We are encouraged to know that the work God has called us to is not done alone.  We could not possibly hope to reach a single person in Taiwan if it was not for the prayer and financial support we receive from you all.

May God bless you in the remainder of 2016 and into 2017!img_3394

Reality Check

We were opposites from the start: he’s relationship-oriented, I’m task-oriented. I think planning is fun, he goes with the flow. He likes fruit desserts and I am chocolate all the way (still can’t believe this wasn’t brought up in our premarital counseling).

In the past year, one of the ways Josh and I differ seems to come to the forefront on a weekly (daily?!) basis. Josh is the optimist and I am the, ah, realist (if you can’t find this in your dictionary try looking under “pessimist”… as any self-respecting optimist will tell you, they are about the same thing!).

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Celebrating my brother Caleb’s baptism with my family in Georgia

When facing a challenge or dealing with stress I tend to expect the worst. I certainly believe something good could happen, but I am unlikely to rely on that possibility. Josh, on the other hand, will tell you to his dying breath that something good is about to work out. As a result, I spend a lot of my time worrying while Josh skips around the town whistling Bob Marley. Or something like that.

Last week, however, when I brought my impressively lengthy list of concerns to God, He began to open my eyes to see what I’ve been missing because of my tight hold on “reality.” As I prayed, asking the Lord for just a little peek into His plans for our future, Jesus responded not with answers to my question but instead an answer to the fear in my heart. An image of Peter walking on the waves to Jesus immediately came into my mind and the Lord said,

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Hosanna is getting so big!

What are you looking at? Sure, the waves and the wind and maybe little fish nipping at your toes are all there. It’s true. The reality surrounding Peter, and you, isn’t easy. But look what’s in front of you! Look who’s holding you up! The Son of God! What about that reality?”

And I realized that my version of reality had become a dim reflection of the true reality. My focus on limitations, on disappointments, on situations not going according to my plan, had overtaken my ability to see God’s power reigning over all of it. And so my prayers have changed. I still ask for God’s guidance and favor in the plans I make and challenges we need His grace to face. But I have been set free to have contentment before I know the conclusion. To focus on obedience, not outcomes. My faith in God does not depend on His answers or my understanding.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” – Psalm 37:4-5

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” – Isaiah 12:2

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International student YunLi at our fall celebration party

These verses, among others, have been really influential in reminding me that my delight is in the Lord, not just the wonderful things He can do in my life.

In the past month we’ve had several fun events that helped us get to know new students and invest more deeply in the lives of the students we’re already praying for and discipling. Below are a few ways you can pray for us and our students today and this week:

  • Nov. 4-6 we drive to Greenwood, IN with six girls from Asbury for OMS’ OneWeekend retreat. Pray that each of these lovely ladies will have clarity in discerning God’s voice as they learn more about how God wants to use them to grow the kingdom.
  • Nov. 28 we speak at a Taiwanese church in Louisville. Praise God for this unexpected opportunity and pray for open hearts for financial partnership.
  • Pray that God will speak through us as we mentor students here who are eagerly seeking the Lord’s will and have many great questions about what following Jesus should look like in their own lives.
  • Pray that we’ll raise another $1100 in monthly financial pledges by January so we can go to our final OMS training that month.

Thank you for your prayers over us! They are powerful and effective… we see God at work in us and through us each week. Blessings to you!

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I Said No

It was January of 2015, and Josh and I had just returned from staying with his parents for Christmas in Taiwan. Our plans to move permanently to Taiwan the following year had been recently dashed upon the rocks of reality, i.e. Josh’s dad’s explanation to us that Taiwan’s visa laws required us to work for a church or missions organization for two years before we could apply for a missionary visa. We were heartbroken. Our lives were going to be put on hold for two years before we could get back to Asia? Surely this was not God’s plan. I schemed and researched and tried to find a loophole that would get us to Taiwan faster.

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God is raising up missional leaders at Asbury from around the world

We were on the student cabinet of One Mission’s student center at Asbury at the time, and I suspected that OMS might ask us to accept a greater leadership role as the directors there finished their term. “Josh,” I said as we were getting ready for bed one evening, “if they ask us to be the assistant directors next year, we will say no.” We were busy enough as it was, and I wanted to focus our efforts on getting a job at a Chinese church so we could use our two years of ministry in the States “most effectively.” Josh grinned and said something about not telling God “no.” I promptly ignored him, confident that God would never make us do student ministry when we were both so eager to get out of school and into missions.

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OMS @ AU’s 4th Annual Cornhole Tournament

Five months and many grudging (on my part) “yesses” later, we were moving into the director’s residence of the OMS student center as-you guessed it-the assistant directors. This was a temporary situation as the directors transitioned out and OMS searched for new directors to take their place the following year. Despite my resistance, I had to admit, we had a pretty sweet deal- not only did this position meet the requirements for our Taiwan visa, but we also got to live in a lovely, sunshine-filled house with plenty of room to welcome Hosanna, who was about 8 months from her entry into the world.

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Hosanna loves the attention from the students!

“Ok, ok,” I told Josh, “we can be the assistants. But if they ask us to be the real directors, we are definitely saying no. Student ministry is not our calling! We’ll do this for a year and then find something else to finish out our visa requirement.” He gave me that same irritating smile he gives when he suspects I am wrong and I, as usual, did my best to pretend I didn’t see it.

Our year as assistant directors was filled with confirmations from God that it was indeed his plan for us to be here at Asbury, mobilizing students into missions. Everything was falling into place for us to continue the work for another year as the directors, especially since OMS had yet to find a new director to take over. And so, my heart filled with both anticipation and dread, we said yes to taking on the full role as directors for the 2016-2017 school year.

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Discussing different ways God speaks to us

God had worked patiently to help me accept his plan for us to stay here at Asbury a little longer, but I still had no idea what we were doing. We have no training in college ministry, and to be honest the thought terrified me! Because we had nothing to go on, we prayed constantly for the Lord’s guidance and for his will to be done in our ministry. The week before school started, we found out that most of the students on our cabinet had to back out due to other commitments. Most of the students we were close to had already graduated, and it felt as though we were starting with nothing. We turned to our Father, asking Him to come through for us because we had little to offer.

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Dinner with Chinese speakers at our home

True to His character, the Lord did come through. God sent us new students we didn’t even know, who shared our vision for a ministry and missions discipleship group. The Lord facilitated relationships with students of all kinds of backgrounds and interests. I couldn’t believe it- not only were our hopes for the ministry coming to fruition, but I was actually enjoying it. When we told some students that our position here is only for this year, they expressed their dismay. To my surprise, I felt a twinge in my heart and realized that I, too, will be sad to leave.

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10 months old!

I used to think people’s stories about telling God “no” and then experiencing a complete change of heart were rather cliché… and then I started telling God “no” and got to experience it firsthand! Though my “no’s” may sound like the exact opposite of yours (I try to convince God to send me into missions sooner, not to keep me here!), His graciousness remains unchanged.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement as we disciple students and help them discern God’s leading in their lives. It is truly a joy to be a part of God’s work here, and to experience constant His faithfulness.

35@100

We are just months away from our May 2017 departure date for Taiwan!  As some of you  may know, we are in the process of raising funds to go to Taiwan.  One Mission Society has given us a projected monthly amount that we raise, called our Missionary Support Requirement (MSR).  Our MSR is roughly 1/3 salary to live off of and 2/3 funds to run the ministry God has called us to.  In order to reach that amount and be able to go to Taiwan we need folks here in America to join our monthly support team.  To make it easier for you to see how to contribute, we’re launching our 35@100 campaign.

If 35 people commit to a $100/month donation to support God’s work in Taiwan though us, we will be COMPLETELY funded.  To some, $100 a month may seem like a lot and to others this may seem trivial.  100 is not a magic number.  If it’s on your heart to join us through giving, ask the Lord how much He wants to provide for you to give.  There is no amount that is too small for us to appreciate or for the Lord to use. In God’s economy no gift is put to waste and no amount of generosity and faith goes unnoticed.  If you feel led to give, know that your gift will be directly impacting the ministry of God in Taiwan.

Click here to become one of the 35 who will join in God’s work serving Taiwan’s orphans and families!

As new partners commit, the empty spaces below will be filled.

0/35 partners have joined so far:

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More than Compassion

3__largeHow do you picture a missionary?  Long, exotic-print skirts and t-shirts holding orphans in Africa?  Suit and tie going house to house under a blazing hot Guatemalan sun?  Perhaps it’s that guy with gospel tracts and a bull-horn on a street corner in Japan or maybe the one white guy sweating in the midst of a group of Indian seminary students.  Whatever your view of missions may be, I can bet we’ve heard it.  One doesn’t embark on the task of becoming a “missionary” without hearing plenty of assumptions about what you will do, how you will dress, and even how they think you should make a living.

As we have been on the road raising support for these last few months we have had even more opportunities to explain the mission God has called us to.  To some, our calling seems to be more about compassion, to others it appears to be evangelistic.  Missions philosophers and thinkers would probably consider our calling to work with orphans as “compassion ministry,” that is, ministry that shows the love of God to people and helps them overcome injustice, poverty, sickness, or some other “worldly” ailment.  Compassion ministry is extremely important.  Jesus healed the sick and the hurting everywhere he went.  To exclude compassion from our ministry is to exclude one of the core elements of the gospel.  No missionary can profess to preach the gospel without also showing compassion to those who are hurting.  One Mission Society, the missions group we are a part of, has seen this and therefore considers compassion ministry to be a part of their four key emphases along with evangelism, church planting, leadership training, and partnership.  Our work in Taiwan among the orphan population and particularly those with special needs fits every requirement to be considered compassion ministry.

But its more than that…

Its bigger than that…

To help the sick and heal the wounded is a worthy calling.  To bring justice to the weak and freedom to the oppressed is admirable. Compassion ministry is the type of thing every missions group or organization wants to be a part of.  It’s nice, it feels good and it looks good on a church website or missions poster. But none of it is enough.  No amount of medicine or treatment can save a soul from the pain of being separated form God.  No amount of political freedom, equality, or social justice can make a person truly free.  Only the powerful life-changing relationship that God calls us to can truly heal our souls and set us free to love like God loved us.  No matter how many orphans we “save” or children we “heal,” we will be doing them injustice if we do not introduce them and their families to God and let him complete the work of transforming their lives.  All the compassion in the world is not enough to save a soul.

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Just a few years ago there was a tragic landslide on the coast of Taiwan that killed several people and leveled many homes.  The Buddhist monks were the first to provide aid and
were by far the most successful at providing medical care and rebuilding communities.  In 2015 when that tragic earthquake struck Nepal the first responders were again Buddhist monks in the area.  They follow a doctrine that preaches social justice and compassion on a level that surpasses most churches in America.  Yet in spite of this, their efforts are done purely to achieve personal satisfaction and not to bring glory to God; in the end they will be utterly useless.  As Christians we can do good deeds and even miracles in the name of compassion but these things are useless unless they are done to bring glory to God and to bring people closer to him.

That is why Jessica and I will always consider our ministry to be one of compassion and evangelism.  We will never settle for merely helping the physical worldly needs of the Taiwanese without also inviting them to meet the only person who can truly save them, Jesus.  Our ministry is compassion ministry, but it is also evangelistic.  It is our desire that as we take care of the orphans that have been abandoned and ostracized by society, daily portraying the love and compassion of Christ, we will have the opportunity to explain why we have the freedom to do these things.

12241666_604679293003467_1303129132229430811_nOne example of what this looks like is shown in the daily life of my mom.  As we mentioned in an earlier post, my parents care for a 3-year-old orphan named Champ.  Champ has several severe disabilities and when my mom is taking him around in his stroller many people stop and stare.  Partially this is because she is a white woman with a very obviously Chinese baby, partially it is because of the noticeable disabilities he has, but partially too is because of the way she shows him love, freely and unashamedly.  Since fostering Champ my mother has been asked countless times how she manages to care for him.  Almost always the same expression is used “You must have so much love!” And every time my mother has the opportunity to respond “It is not my love, but it is the love of the God I serve that allows me to love him. I am a channel for His love.”

This is what it means to do compassion ministry.  It is not a matter of living a good life and simply hoping that someone will notice so you can awkwardly share that you are a Christian.  It is putting yourself in a position so countercultural and so radically different that the only explanation for your kindness and love is the freedom that God has given you.  This is why we have been called to go to Taiwan and serve the orphans.  It’s not because we love orphans more than anybody else or because we want to accomplish some good deed.  We are going so that the Taiwanese can understand and see what the love of God looks like.  So that they can see the freedom Christ brings and that they too can live and love with that freedom.

 

 

Audience Participation

 

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Hosanna, our happy traveller

The first half of our summer travels is already behind us! The many hours on the road were happily kept in check with the great time we had sharing with friends new and old about the work God is doing in Taiwan.

In Indiana,  I saw something I had never seen before: a crowd of young people decked out in camouflage without the slightest trace of a southern accent. I think I sat there for a full two minutes listening for a hint of southern drawl- the Georgia girl in me just couldn’t fathom camo clothing without the accompanying accent! Just goes to show you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to experience culture shock.

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Celebrating our second anniversary

For our second anniversary, Josh and I went to see the play Into the Woods while in Texas. When the cast came out, sang their final reprise and bowed, the two of us clapped along with the rest of the audience. An elderly woman sitting beside me, however, kept insisting that the show was not over, that we had only seen the first act. I smiled politely and gave myself a mental pat on the back for knowing that it definitely was over. My pride, however, couldn’t keep me from Googling the ending of the show just in case we really had missed something. Sure enough, we had walked out during intermission, missing the last 90 minutes of the play! Next time the lovely lady sitting next you suggests that the show isn’t over, I recommend checking with at least one usher before you leave, just to be sure.

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First time at Lake Michigan

But what stood out the most from this trip was when Josh and I shared at a Chinese church in northern Indiana and, for the first time, got to experience what it’s like to have a Chinese Christian come alongside us in encouraging their fellow believers to care for orphans and uniquely-abled children. We were wrapping up a Q&A session after the service when one of the elders of the church approached the microphone and asked to share something.

“I want to tell you all something I have never told anyone, even though I have been at this church for 20 years,” he began.

“There are four children in my family, and I am the second oldest. My older sister has Down syndrome.” The room hung silent. It takes a great deal of courage for many Chinese to reveal that they have a relative with a disability because the fear of what others will think is so overwhelming. He went on,

“When my sister was born, my mother hired a nanny to care for her, because we could afford to do so. She lived in an upstairs room, where the nanny watched her, and she was never let outside the house. My sister lived this way for her whole childhood. When my parents got too old, they sent her to live in a home for people like her. She stayed there until she was almost 60 and then she died.”

Silhouette_of_a_child“We must step up and do something for these children. It is our responsibility to care for them- they should not have to live like this.” Here, he stopped and gestured to Matthew, Josh’s brother who has Down syndrome and who had spoken briefly to the congregation earlier that morning. “I wonder,” he said, his voice shaking,”how much more my sister could have done. Maybe should could have been like this young man. Maybe she could have learned and gone to school.”

The Chinese are generally pretty reserved with their emotions, but glancing back at the audience I saw several people with tears in the eyes, moved by this man’s testimony.

“This is our responsibility,” he finished, “we must not put it off any more.”

We didn’t know going in that the heart of our message would come from a member of the audience. But God knew what would impact the hearts of our Chinese friends most deeply, and He provided just that. While this man’s story began decades ago, stories just like his and his sister’s are still happening today, and we’ve seen it firsthand in Taiwan. Keep praying with us that Jesus’ freedom will reign in Taiwan, and that the church will grasp our Father’s vision of hope for orphaned and uniquely-abled children.

Transitions

April showers bring May… transitions!IMG_1751

Josh and I both graduated from Asbury University on May 7, marking the end of an incredibly transformational period of our lives. While we are both quick to say that we are experiential learners who prefer to be out of the classroom, there’s no denying that our time as students at Asbury was great preparation for our work in Taiwan. We are incredibly thankful that God saw fit to grow us here before sending us out.

May 12 was Hosanna’s half birthday! There are no words to describe how much we cherish this precious girl. Realizing that half a year with her has already gone is just astonishing. I am definitely on the sappy end of the mom spectrum… I don’t want to turn away for a second because each smile, coo, and accomplishment are so incredible! I’ve never met a baby with such a sweet disposition. We joke that Hosanna was designed as the perfect missionary baby because she is so easygoing! (We’ll see if we still think that when she’s two…)

IMG_3269Our Father’s provision has been evident in our family right from the start, and we experienced God’s gracious giving again this month. In order to obtain a missionary visa requirement to Taiwan, we must have two years of ministry experience on staff with One Mission Society. For the past year we’ve assisted with One Mission’s student center at Asbury to meet this requirement. This month, Josh and I accepted the role of interim Directors of Student Mobilization here at AU until we leave for Taiwan. Basically, we get to listen to college students share about how God is calling them and then give them the tools they need to follow Him. We’ve really enjoyed getting to do that this past year and are excited to continue! We will meet the two-year mark for the visa requirement in March 2017, so by May 2017 (one year from right now!) we hope to be on the ground in Taiwan.

We are going to be doing a lot of traveling this summer to meet with potential ministry partners- that means you! Below is our tentative travel schedule. If we’re going to be near you and you’d like to get together with us in person, let us know! We are passionate about the Lord and His work and would love to tell you more about the ministry in Taiwan as well as hear about how God is moving in your own life.

Williamson Travel Schedule

May 27-30: Georgia

June 3-6: Southbend, IN & Michewaka Chinese Church

June 9-16: College Station and Tyler, TX

June 23-26: One Mission Society International Conference @ Indiana Wesleyan University

July 1-18: Georgia