It is April the 30th! And my sabbatical is over! I hope, dear friends, you enjoyed the journey with me. Take a break, risk to stop for a moment, it can change your life!
April 21st: The boarder crossing to Bethlehem. Bethlehem is “Palestinian” controlled territory. I went there with a polish Pastor and her friend, because it is not very save for Israelis to lead us there. We visited a palestinian Christian family. This was my last day in Israel. I must say, I learned so much, that it was truly a journey of a life time. I want to thank all people who prayed for me and thank all friends in Israel who made me feel being a part of them.
My last few days in Israel! Since all were busy at my guest family’s house, I drove on my own to Ceasarea, the city were Paul departed for Rom. During the last week there were many more highlights, like meeting Chinese Jews from Kai-Feng, visiting King of Kings Church in Jerusalem, joining a lunch gfor the promotion of the call2all conference in HongKong, and many more.
Today I had a very quiet day, which is also necessary to pray, and digest all my experiences here in the land. I will take a flight next Tuesday night to Korea and then arrive in Taiwan on Thursday. Now I am 3 weeks away from home and family! A long time, but valuable to adjust perspective! I am looking forward coming home and pray that a new chapter in our life will unfold in a more mature level.
April 12th: After praying at the western wall, we had our passover dinner. If you want to watch a 2 minutes youtube video about this passover meal, you can go to:
April 8th: This picture shows me holding the Torah Scroll. We were part of a Bar Mitzvah, a celebration of a young boy becoming a young man. This celebration was at the Sea of Galilee. We also used this occasion to go to the Golan Heights, touching the boarders of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. We could see the snow on Mount Hermon and wonderful flowers all the way through the fields of the Golan. Many of the fields are still untouched, since there are still land mines from war times. We are now preparing for the Passover festival, which means cleaning the house, getting rid of all food that contains yeast, and preparing the living room for all the guests who are coming. We will be more than 10 people for the Passover dinner!
April 2nd: A trip to the Negev, the desert between Arad and the dead sea. We spend some time to be alone at a place in the desert to pray and read Scripture. I also brought my clarinet and played in that solitude.
After visiting the dead sea and had some great teaching there, we went also to the old city of Beersheba before we headed back to Jerusalem.
March 29th: Last night I arrived in Israel. The picture shows the view from my room. I live with friends close to Jerusalem, but in the “West Bank”. I just woke up and there is not yet too much to write, but I want to share with a interesting story about my flight from Taiwan to Korea and then to Tel Aviv:
My first flight was to Seoul, Korea. As I checked in, I remembered that my friend Elijah always asks how much an update to business class is. He is a pastor and a businessman in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I tried to learn from him and asked the lady on the check in counter: “Is it possible to upgrade to business class?” She looked a bit strange and just said: “No, sorry”. Well, at least I tried, although I should have asked, why it isn’t possible, be a little more aggressive. Then, she asked me whether I have a air-miles card for Korean Airline. “No, but I am happy to apply”, I said. I filled out a form and felt that I had at least accomplished something. As I looked at my ticket, my seat number was 9E, quite a small number, I noticed, and went away. When I boarded the plane, I was ready to make a right turn. I always made right turns, because on the left is either 1st class or business class. When the stewardess told me to turn left, suddenly my mind started to work. Of course, low number and left turn – business class! Or, as Korean Airline named it prestige Class. My registration of the air-miles card must have given an extra bonus and the lady on the check in counter signed up for that upgrade for free. I took it as a first sign that God is welcoming me on that trip to Israel!
My first time in business class! Yes, the seats are as comfortable as I always imagined after I passed them by sitting 12 hours in a small economy seat on my way to Germany. The only thought that came to my mind was, how depressing the comparison will be, when I will take my 13 hour flight from Seoul to Tel Aviv. However, God has something even better in store.
In Seoul I tried again to upgrade. Now with more confidence as I felt already being a successful “seat changer”. I was turned down again with the comment: “An upgrade is too expensive!”. What does it mean? Do I still look like a student who cannot afford some luxury? Well, the last part may be true, but walking with God will never lack surprises. The lady checked my seat again and finally said: “you are sitting in a row of 3 seats, and no other seat is taken. That meant, that I can even stretch out and lay down to sleep. Great! As I entered the plane, I put my bags on the free seat, fearing that someone wants to “steal” my blessing, by sitting on one of these free seats. I felt quite selfish, but with 13 hours ahead, I thought that’s fine! We took off, the food was served, and finally I had a good rest, enough space, and meditating whether I deserved such blessing or not.
– – –
March 23rd: The 3rd month of my sabbatical is coming to an end. One more month to go! This Saturday (28th) I will leave for Israel. The last few weeks I had intense time with my family. Again and again I realize that with 2 kids at age 7 and 9, family is just a major part in life, so to say, the major part, concerning energy and time. It is so ambiguous, because we love the kids, but at times, we long for some time alone – I mean not just a few hours … Thus, my Israel trip will surely be special and probably one for the rare opportunities to spend 3 weeks on my own. Of course, it will also be my final preparation to return into my ministry in May – hopefully with many positive changes.
March 10th: 2009 is a year of new structures. This is a picture of our kitchen. I am still in Taiwan and the next 2 weeks I want to continue to “restructure” our daily duties and life at home. One part is to reorganize our kitchen, since we figured that we spend quite substantial time in here. Daily stuff, like washing dishes and clothes, etc. could be much more pleasant when things are organized the right way. In a way, this is also a prophetic action, because I believe that God wants us to “restructure” our ministry. A sabbath is a good time to stop everything and stand back a bit. Then looking at life from a fresh perspective will let us see, where things need change. Let us take courage, because if we are willing to change and give up things that no longer seem to fit, God can do something new and exciting in our lives and ministry. … by the way, on the 28th this month I am off to Israel. I am sure that God will show me even more about new structures for ministry and family life!
March 2nd: I am back in Taiwan for more than a week now. I stopped by the church to hand in my tithing envelop and to say hello to the staff. My feeling is that the church is running very well without me being there for the 2 months. I am very happy about that. I can sense that more and more people stepped up in taking responsibility and in initiating new ministries! I know that many people would like to chat with me or share, but I try to withdraw intentionally to make sure this sabbatical is truly a rest from church ministry. It is not easy, but I can see the benefit very clear, not just for me but also for the church!
Finally, God opened a wide door for my Israel trip. Yo’el’s family invited me to participate in the passover festival and it seems that there will be lot’s of teaching and exposure to Jewish culture and Biblical principles. I will leave end of March and come back during the second half of April. Please pray for a good schedule with flights and study opportunities. Also pray for Wei-Chao and the kids to handle household and homework well, and being able enjoy God’s blessings every day.
Febr.25th We left Germany, the mountains, the school, and the grandparents. Katharina was already 1 week back in school. Wei-Chao was in Toronto for one week to accompany her friends violin audition. Now we are all reunited and look forward to get back into a healthy daily schedule. Good News: I will try again to go to Israel in March, since God opened some doors. Please pray that God will lead me in this matter.
Mountains in South Germany. We spend 5 days at a farm and went skiing for 3 days. Wether and scenery were awesome and we enjoyed God’s creation in a very special way!
After 3 weeks of school, we are going to leave for the mountains tomorrow. Wei-Chao and Andreas are a arriving in the morning and we will leave in the afternoon. I was invited several times to teach in the primary school which Katharina attended. I taught about church planting and evangelism in Taiwan and we sang praise and worship songs in mandarin. Often, the children prayed for Taiwan and it was an anointed time, giving me new hope for my country.
January 27th: Prayer for Taiwan! Today I was asked to share in the school which Katharina attends. About 20 3rd graders (9 years old) listened to my testimony of how God blessed Dayspring Church and how a new generation in Taiwan rises up to glorify God. After my sharing, at least 8 of the children prayed for Taiwan and the children in Taiwan. It was a very touching moment. I never experienced German children in such a high level of spirituality. God truly led my daughter to a very special school. I am so amazed of God’s ways. Somehow I see a vision of God bringing many different denominations together. Those who truly know God and love God will become more aware of being the one body of Christ. Youth and children ministry will be a platform for even the adult generation to come together as one!
Jan. 17th: Today is our 3rd day in Germany. God opened many doors for Katharina to study at a German school. Picture on the left shows her in her new classroom. Her teacher is very capable. Yesterday the whole class went ice-skating, my daughter’s favorite sport. Every school-day starts with 10 minutes of prayer and bible reading. Many of the students want to make friends with Katharina and one of them even gave her a present the very first day. It is a great environment for her to study German! Praise the Lord. As for me, I spend good quality time with my daughter and also find time to read Bible and meditate during her taking classes. I learn to respect God’s voice and to follow His instructions rather than being pressured by own expectations. Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength …
The picture shows Kaohsiung nightlife from a 85th floor restaurant. God finds many ways to treat us so good!
My first week of my sabbatical is over. I feel very different! It is so good to rest in mind! The biggest difference for me is, that I don’t have to plan and carry heavy responsibilities. Now I realize that pioneering and leading a church took a lot of energy and emotional strength. As I handed most of the responsibilities over to my co-workers, i am sure it will also be a good experience for them.
I started my clean up plan! Lot’s of documents and other “stuff”. During this time, God is teaching me a lot about the power of discipline. Self-discipline is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I pray that I will make progress in that part, since it will affect many things in life: relationships, health,finances, effectiveness, joy, ….
Thus, I am quite happy to say that the first week went by quite relaxed and with good times of reflection about life and ministry. A costly time! Since, how often can we spend so much time so relaxed!
It is also preparation time for me and Katharina to go to Germany. We will leave Taiwan next Tuesday and i am looking forward to the opportunity to have her learn more German and enjoy the German culture.
The Israel trip was shortened and is now available as a 2 weeks excursion for about 145000 NT$ incl. flight. I am still waiting for some confirmation. If it is not the right time to go, there will be more opportunity ahead later. I just want to hear from God what is important during these 4 months.
Dec. 31st: Tomorrow is the 1st of January. I had planned a mountain trip, however, since on the 1st and 2nd of January are holidays, I choose to stay with the family. So, I decided last Sunday to go to the mountains earlier and drove to Ali Shan. I stayed overnight in my car (quite comfortable) and then climbed up Ta-Shan, a 5 hour hike. I really enjoyed the quietness and had a good time alone with God.
Dec.22nd Today is Andrew’s birthday. He is 7! The last 2 days we had lots of meetings going on at church. Saturday out Youth Christmas with about 160 young people attending. And yesterday afternoon, kid’s Christmas with about 100 kids participating. Everything gets bigger and I need to learn to shift gears in my style of leadership. So far, we are doing well and I sense my timing for the sabbatical time is good. Please continue to pray for these last few days in 2008. There some more meetings and arrangements to do.
Dec. 13th:Last Saturday was our city-wide youth Christmas event. We had about 500 high school students participating. Many of them came for the first time to a church event and about 40 made a decision for Jesus that night.
Our own church will run Christmas meetings for kids, youth and adults next week. End of the year we have a thanksgiving dinner for all of our volunteers and one more member meeting to share our vision and give a financial report.
There are 2 more weeks until our 4 month sabbatical time starts. Time goes by fast, especially at this busy season.
Dec.7th: We already registered our 2 children at a German school to join classes for a few weeks. Katharina and me will leave Taiwan on January 13th. My Israel trip is still on ice – waiting for God’s leading. Please continue to pray for us.