loren Eric Swanson: Externally Focused in East Asia

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Externally Focused in East Asia

Just read Andy and Natalie's prayer letter. Andy is our son and he and his wife Natalie are living out the gospel among students in East Asia. I think you'll really like this story.

Dear Friends and Family,

Last week we met with students for the first time after their winter break for a student leadership retreat. One thing that has been impressed on our hearts is the need for our team and for the students to grow in compassion for their classmates and the people of this city. Jesus calls us the salt of the earth and the light of the world, but often times in ministry we have ignored this aspect of the Christian life, confining ourselves to a small group of believers and failing to make an impact on the community as a whole. So, a major part of the student retreat was not only seeing what the Bible had to say about compassion and service, but also going out with our students to serve the city.

Students praying and planning to reach the World for Christ. We divided into groups and set out on a cold and rainy Saturday night loaded with food, gloves and umbrellas to give to people in need. Andy and I went with a group to the train station- the perfect place for a homeless person to escape the rain. They wander into the ticket office loaded with dirty potato sacks full of their worldly possessions and settle into corners to wait out the weather. Normally, they are invisible to train passengers moving in and out of the station, all together ignored as they stare into space or sleep. The typical reaction they solicit from others is a look of disgust or of irritation as they are stepped over.

As we entered the station, the students’ eyes were set to help these people. They began to pass out food and to tell the people that Jesus loves them. “I knew you were believers,” one man said, “you’re the ones that help people.” Person after person who we met said that they understood why we would do this, because we love God. A few people in the crowd that would gather around to watch understood too. “Oh, they are Christians,” one woman said, “that is what Christians do.”

One man was a missing a right arm and a left leg, and had propped himself on crutches against a pillar in the middle of the station. We asked him what he needed and he looked down at his bare foot and said, “a shoe.” Two boys went out and bought him socks and shoes, and when they returned, they grabbed him under his arms, helped him to sit down and then put a sock and shoe on his foot- a very unusual sight in the train station.

When we returned that night, the other groups shared story after story about how God used them to love people. We pray that this would begin in us and in the students a life-long practice of serving the city and helping people in need. Jesus said that whatever we do to the least among us, we do to Him, so, in serving the needy, we serve our Lord. We love you all and are thankful that you are working with us to serve this city and to make the kingdom of Christ visible in this country.


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