What Are Our Gifts?
Aside from being fantastically boring, accounting theory can be hard to understand. When I worked as an accountant, I often had difficult conversations regarding unfavorable accounting treatments. I found the most effective way to explain something difficult was to step outside of the complex thing we were dealing with, and use a simple, relatable example from daily life to illustrate the concept. Once the concept was understood, we could step back into the problem at hand and apply it.
Interesting how that experience continues to be relevant today as we work to lead people to Jesus here in Taiwan. For many people here, Christianity is completely counter-cultural from everything they have ever been taught. In a word, it’s simply too radical.
Given the circumstances, it would be easy for us to conclude the task here is just too big, or even impossible. We should “shake the dust from our sandals” and move on.
Given the circumstances, it would be easy for us to conclude the task here is just too big, or even impossible. We should “shake the dust from our sandals” and move on. But then I think about Nicodemus and how he couldn’t understand what it meant to be born again in the Spirit. And so, Jesus talked to him about the wind. (John 3:1-8)
How often did Jesus use a parable to illustrate what he was teaching? Many times! Because, what Jesus said was completely counter-cultural, much like it is here in Taiwan. So, Jesus used examples from daily life to illustrate a concept: a seed and how it grows, a son who wastes his inheritance or building barns to store wealth. Once understood, he applied it to who He was. Thinking about that now, I realize my past experiences were truly a gift, and one that the Lord gave me plenty of opportunity to develop.
Recently I started teaching English through an outreach program in Chiayi City which serves the materially poor in our community. The program is called 蘢嬬搹劭碇, which is written in romanization as “tian ren fu shao she” and translates to “encouraging and supporting through the kindness of heaven.” These families receive a monthly stipend to help with basic necessities, and don’t have the means to send their kids to English school.
I began teaching two groups of kids, one elementary group and the other middle school, about 20 in all. The younger students have basically no English skill. While the older students have some, it is still very limited. There was no curriculum or textbook when I started, and I was given the freedom to teach how I like. After much preparation and research, I can say we are starting to get into the swing of things.
I take our two oldest daughters, Sadie, age 11, and Sophie, age 9, with me on Friday nights to help. The students absolutely love them. Likewise, it has been such a blessing for Sadie and Sophie to be able to serve. They act with such love and compassion. With the younger students they do an incredible job of helping them sound words out, practice writing letters, and sing songs. As a bonus, they help me when my Chinese pronunciation falls short.
For the middle school students, I often take a parable from the Bible, break it up into sections and then simplify the English. I read one section in English, they repeat it in English. Next, in Chinese I explain what it means. Once they understand, we go to the white board and draw a picture to illustrate the meaning of that section of the story. When they understand the entire story in English, in Chinese, and in picture, I explain to them in Chinese what Jesus was teaching us in this story.
When I explained to them that the father in the story was meant to represent God Our Father, and how God loves us unconditionally and with infinite mercy, their jaws literally dropped.
The first time we did it, we were going through the parable of the prodigal son. At the end, I drew many circles around the picture of the father on the white board. When I explained to them that the father in the story was meant to represent God Our Father, and how God loves us unconditionally and with infinite mercy, their jaws literally dropped. It was awe-inspiring for them to think of God with such love and mercy.
When we were discerning missions we heard “the Lord doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” I remember thinking, what gifts do I have that could possibly be of relevance to evangelizing in Taiwan?
I don’t know Chinese, don’t have a deep background in theology or apologetics, and have no foreign mission experience. The Lord is going to have to do a lot of equipping!
But the truth is, we all have gifts, whether that be something such as an artistic talent or life experience. All of them can be used for His purpose (Romans 8:28). It helps me to remember that while I am certainly lacking, Jesus is not.
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