Made Acceptable

I started this blog back when I was the principal of Greater Grace Christian Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. I named it, "What Was I Thinking?" with the idea that I would share my thoughts as the principal from time to time so that parents, students, teachers, and pretty much anyone else who wanted to read them could do so.

Now that I am living in South Korea as a missionary, I think my blog has become more of a newsletter at times featuring pictures of people, places, and things and telling about what has transpired in my life since the last time I posted a blog entry. I wanted people back home in America and around the world to know what my life has been like and what I have been doing in the hopes that maybe someone would think, "Gee, Dan Dunbar lives there without fear of the North Korean menace and I should think about visiting Korea or pray about going to Korea as a missionary too."

Well, today I am going to use only one photo, and I will just write about what I am thinking.

Today I made blueberry pancakes for the Bible college students of our Grace Mission Institute. That's the kind of guy I am. I didn't eat the pancakes, because I've started a low-carbohydrate diet hoping to shed some surplus weight. For some of the students, it was their first time eating Western-style pancakes. Koreans make pancakes that are less about the batter and more about the vegetables and seafood that they put into them. The green onion pancakes are my favorite. You may have seen pictures here on my blog, on my Instagram account, or in one of my newsletters of other baked goods I have made for the Grace Mission Church members and Bible college students. I like to bake and have people enjoy what I have made.

At the rap session on Sunday, one of the church members said she had spoken to a friend who said she felt uncomfortable going to church because she in not a gregarious person and it seemed that everyone else was outgoing and social. She was trying to make herself be like the people around her, but it was difficult. I was asked what I would say to this shy friend.

I shared my testimony of how God, through the Word and the Body of Christ, drew me out of myself. I'm still quite introverted and find that being around people for extended amounts of time to be draining, but I have served God as a teacher for close to thirty years now, surrounded by students, and I stand in the pulpit twice a week facing my brothers and sisters in Christ to deliver a message from the Bible. How did this happen? I won't bore you with the history of my life, but I will tell one story.

I was a teenager living in Lenox, Massachusetts attending a Bible study with a few other teenagers and our youth leader whose name was Bill Fischer. He had gathered us into a room in a splendid old mansion that had a large window which allowed us to view the starry night sky. It was to be a prayer meeting, but before we prayed, Bill Fischer began to tell us that each of us had been given a spiritual gift by God when we became believers. I had heard this before, but that night sitting on the carpeted floor, looking out at the stars behind Bill Fischer, I felt a little tingle of excitement, because I dared to believe that I really had been given something from God, something that made me special.

Often I had avoided attending the youth Bible studies, because I felt uncomfortable around my peers. I was the skinny, red-haired, A-student who wasn't cool or athletic or popular. I was afraid that a girl might like me, and I blushed easily when girls smiled and paid attention to me. I was trying hard to be what I thought was a good Christian and perhaps appeared to be on the outside, but knew that I was a failure on the inside. But for some reason I had decided to attend this informal prayer meeting.

I wasn't sure that Bill Fischer knew my name, and as he looked around the room that night and spoke to some of the other teenagers there and told them what he thought their gift might be, I had my eyes fixed in the carpet, hoping both that Bill Fischer would say my name and that he would not say my name. He said my name. I was so glad that the room was dark, lit only by the moon and the stars and a streetlight, because my face was burning red. He knew my name and he was looking at me.

I looked up and heard these few words: "Dan, I think you have a gift of quiet love." That's all he said, but those words went straight to my heart. God had made me special. And my specialness, my gift was quiet - like me. God had made me the way I was and it was okay to be that way. I could love people in my own quiet way with God's love and be a valuable member of the Body of Christ. I have never forgotten that night, and I have always wanted to find Bill Fischer and thank him for his words.

Since that night, God has built upon this sense that God accepts me just as I am and has drawn me out of my natural personality so that I can stand before people without fear to preach, teach, sing, and even die on a cross in an Easter play wearing nothing but a loincloth, a crown of thorns, and a lot of sticky, fake blood. I didn't make myself this way. God did it through His Word and His people.

So, I make banana bread and pumpkin pies as expressions of my quiet love for the Korean people that He has placed in my life. But I have also wept in front of them and told them that I love them with my mouth. I have written it in text messages and expressed it in smiles, handshakes, and embraces. I have even broken down and given little Chinese and Korean children high-fives. Yes, I am still growing.

So this is what I was thinking. I've been teaching the book of Galatians and emphasizing that one of the messages of the gospel is that we have been accepted and love by God just as we are in Christ, and that there is nothing we can do to make us more acceptable or lovable than we already are. This has been on my heart lately, and so to all those people who have ever felt the way I have - awkward, odd, not good enough - put faith before feelings and find your identity in your union with the beloved Son of God.
Look at me - Mr. Sociable!


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