Portraits of Grace

This picture of a little Korean boy with pizza sauce on his face and a bright red heart painted on his cheek speaks to me. He is a picture of all of us who are God's adopted sons and daughters. Yes, we mess up, but God has His heart set on us, and that is never going to change. Because we are in Jesus Christ, God the Father says to us, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." I am loved and I am accepted by God, and I am pleasing in His sight because of my position in Christ, not because I haven't messed up.

This is the message that we have been hearing for the last nine weeks or so here in Seoul, Korea - the message of God's grace and the Finished Work gospel. I have needed to hear these messages as much as any of the other people in the church. Having heard the message for about forty years, now I am preaching and teaching the message and living it, I hope.
The eyes of the little boy in this picture seem to say, "Who are you and why are you here?" This is a challenge for me, living here in Korea. I am often asked these questions. In fact, I was asked these same questions this very morning by a Canadian teacher at a men's breakfast held at a local church here in Uijeongbu. 

Sometimes I find the Holy Spirit asking me the same questions when something comes up in ministry, something that I don't naturally prefer to do. "Who are you, Dan, and why are you here in Korea if you don't want to do the work of the ministry?" Oh, that still small voice can be so convicting! 

Last week we learned about the role of the "other Advocate," the Holy Spirit who brings things to our remembrance and teaches us. He reminds me of who I really am and graciously gives me "on the job training" day by day as I serve here. I still have so much more to learn and have so much need to grow that it's almost laughable that I am left here by myself to oversee a church. God does have a sense of humor.
This little guy knew next to no English, but became my friend in a matter of minutes because I took an interest in him. He showed up at the Halloween party with a creepy ghost mask, but then transformed into Spider Man through the magic of face painting. I called him Spider Man and pretended to be scared by his spider powers, and that created a bond that lasted for the next hour or so until the party ended and he had to go home.

I think sometimes we don't realize the power of one word spoken in love, and overlook that there are people waiting for that one word from that person who cares to notice them. There are people who want to know that they are loved and accepted for who they are. We, the beloved children of God with whom He is well pleased, have the powerful words and love that can transform lives if we share them.

I'm going to China soon to visit the school I helped set up earlier this year. One of the middle school students at that school made a profession for Christ last month. I look forward to seeing her and the other students again, and I have been packing a little suitcase with books and other things I want to give to them and the teachers there. The Uncle Dan in me wants these kids to grow up well and to be happy in school, knowing Jesus as their Savior, and becoming the people God desires them to become. Please pray for my travel and my time with my friends in China.
Speaking of happiness, this little girl was by far the happiest child at the Halloween party hosted by a sweet Christian woman who opened up her bakery on a Saturday afternoon to families from a school for students with learning differences. When the pastor from a local Christian school showed up with his guitar and began playing and singing, nobody sang louder, smiled brighter, or danced more merrily than the artist above. When the pastor said, "Shout banana when I say banana and shout mango when I say mango," she sang out "Banana!" and "Mango" about a second after everyone else in the room, but with such joy that all eyes were drawn to her.

It was a privilege to minister to these children and their mothers and to show the love of God in action that day to them. It is a privilege to be part of the Grace Mission Church of Seoul, South Korea, and to get to know God through the beautiful people He has put in my life. I used to be the one who prayed that God would send "someone" (meaning "someone else") to the mission field whenever a message about missions was spoken back in Baltimore, and I was happy to help with the annual missions march as long as I didn't have to go anywhere myself. Now I thank God that He sent me here.

One day, I think we'll be standing with Jesus in the Museum of Heaven looking at all the portraits of grace, and all of us will have our place on the wall...

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