Blue Christmas

This past month has been one of the toughest for me as a missionary on a foreign field. I began feeling mildly depressed early in the month when I realized that something I had hoped would happen wasn't going to happen any time soon. I found myself feeling sad and wondering why. It took about a week before I recognized that my unfulfilled expectation was part of the cause. Even then, when I realized the trigger for my depression, I was not able to shake it.

The Christmas season can be hard for anyone when they are used to spending the holiday with their family. I remember being in Thailand for Christmas a couple of years ago with my good friends Tain and Zinan.
I really enjoy being with both of these guys, but on Christmas day I was moping alone at a McDonalds in a huge shopping mall, surrounded by people I didn't know. Fortunately, that evening we attended a Christmas service at a local church and the love of God buoyed my sagging spirit.

This year I received a package with…

Before We Call, God Answers

These two people are an answer to prayers I never got a chance to pray myself, because of Isaiah 64:24 which says, "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear" (NASB). 

Do you ever have experiences in your walk of faith that prove to you once again that we serve an amazing, living God? I'm sure that you must have some. Recently, God revealed that He wasn't kidding when he spoke the words of Isaiah 64:24.

For a while now, I have had ideas about ways we could improve our church facilities, but I only voiced one idea aloud to the members of the congregation. They prayed and responded in faith, and now we have a lovely nursery that looks into our chapel where moms (and dads, if they wish) can see and hear the service while their little ones creep around on the floor, nurse, play, or sleep.

But the other improvements I kept hidden in my heart, thinking it would be too much to ask immediately on the heels…

Friends Like Jonathan

When I awoke this morning, there was a message in English on my phone asking if I had water in my apartment. I checked and, sure enough, there was no water coming out of the faucets. I needed to use the bathroom and and I also needed to shower and shave before heading to the church to preach. Fortunately, there was a Korean bathhouse a ten-minute walk away from my apartment and it was open for business. I relieved and bathed myself then walked home and dressed for church. I put the chocolate cake and a cheesecake I had baked yesterday into a Costco shopping bag and walked down to the bus stop to catch the 1141 or 1221 bus, whichever came first.

Why am I telling you all this? Because there are stories behind my story.

Who wrote that message asking about the water in my apartment? Eunjin Kim sent me that message after I had gone to bed last night. She checked the Korean language chat group that the other people in my building use to communicate their concerns and noticed that people we…

Hidden Riches

I have never spent any time in Korea during the month of June until this year. Usually I go to America to visit family and friends at the end of May and return at the beginning of July after attending the Greater Grace International Convention in Baltimore. Not so this year. On May 9, I taught the last Introductory Greek class of the semester then boarded a limousine bus for Incheon International Airport to catch an Air Canada flight to Toronto and, later, Boston. It was wonderful to be greeted by my mother and father at Logan Airport and to drive home to Maine.

The reason for this earlier than usual trip home was a promise I made to my nephew Noah three years ago before moving to Korea. I promised to attend Noah's high school graduation if possible.
Because Pastor Steve DeVries was in Korea, it was possible for me to go home for three weeks. I spent time with my parents...
....and with my brothers and sister and their families,

visited and spoke in the churches in Gorham, Maine

I Want to Be a Seed

As you can see from this picture, Koreans have beautiful smiles. Today, Pastor Steve DeVries and I ate lunch with these two ladies that we had not seen for some time. The woman on the left is Professor Im who teaches psychology. Soonja, the woman on the right works as a teacher and counselor for young women at the church she attends now. Both of them had been Bible college students and they had attended our church.

Pastor DeVries had a lunch appointment with the Soonja two days ago, but he forgot and had to reschedule for today. This was a case of divine forgetfulness, since, as a result, Professor Im and I could also be part of the lunch fellowship.

When we pulled up to Soonja's apartment building, we expected to see her, but, lo and behold, Professor Im was also waiting for us. Pastor Steve and I got out of the car to say hello. I thought Professor Im had been visiting Soonja and was on her way home, but to our delight, she was joining us for lunch.

One of the first things Prof…

Heavenly Homesickness

It's a rainy afternoon here in Seoul and I'm sitting upstairs in a Starbucks coffee shop near KONIS in Pyeongchang-dong. College students tap away at their laptops, middle-aged women sip coffee and chat, and the guy in the corner has taken off his sneakers and commandeered two chairs for a nap. 
I've just finished drinking a mug of lime passion tea, a wonderful elixir that I discovered last Saturday with my doctor friend Charlie. In a couple of hours I'll be sharing a devotional thought with the staff at KONIS, but what to do in the meantime? I have not brought my computer or any extra books today, because I expect to lug home a set of Sunday school curriculum books home from KONIS in my bookbag. All I have are my study notes and my iPhone which is how I writing my blog at the moment. Somehow more study for my devotional doesn't seem profitable and there are only so many games of spider solitaire that one can play... 

I'm having one of those days where everything…

Jesus Comes Walking

Today, God answered my prayers, and I am sad.

I spoke an introduction this morning during our Sunday worship service about how Jesus comes to meet us in our storms. The gospels recount the story of Jesus walking on the water in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. He put the disciples in a boat, saw them off on their voyage, and went up onto a mountain to pray. The storm caught the disciples three miles from shore, and one gospel account says that Jesus could see them rowing hard against the wind.

Jesus did not stay on the mountain praying for them to survive and arrive safely. Jesus did not stand up and calm the storm with a command to be still. Instead, Jesus came walking on the waves to his disciples. He came to where they were in their trouble, and once He entered the boat, the storm ceased and "immediately" they arrived on the other side safe and sound. Jesus is an intimate savior who never leaves nor forsakes us.

After lunch and the rap discussion time, a group…