Thursday, March 26, 2009

Humbled and Happy

There are times when you need to hear a small word of encouragement. There are times that when you least expect it something or someone comes to give you a special gift that will encourage forever.

Where do I start with this account?

The photo you see here is Rev. Dr. Edmund Cheung, D. Min. (Fuller).
Dr. Cheung is the President of Ecclesia Bible College in Hong Kong, a very influential man in the lives of thousands upon thousands of young adults in Hong Kong and for that matter – all over China.

The photo above arrived at my home via a special courier all the way from Hong Kong – hand delivered along with a copy of the 60th Anniversary Book from the Ecclesia Bible College.

Rev. Steve Kennedy, a fellow pastor in Peterborough and the editor of the Pentecostal Testimony of the PAOC dropped by my home to hand deliver the special gift – that was specially delivered to my home – from Dr. Edmund Cheung.

The message that came with it was very important – perhaps even more than the gift itself. Dr. Cheung stressed the fact that I was his mentor and had an impact on his life.

As I looked closely at the photo the memories began flooding back to a time of wonder and insecurity in my own life. So many thousands of memories flooded me as I looked at the Book and the Photo of Dr. Cheung. The flooding of memories almost overwhelmed me and have brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. WHAT A BLESSING THIS IS TO FEEL AGAIN WITH WONDER WHAT GOD HAS DONE!

Come with me to 1980 to 1985…
It was just after New Years in 1981 that we arrived in Hong Kong to begin our new ministry as a Missionary. We began this journey in late 1980 as we left our home in Oakville, Ontario and my ministry at the National Office of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada – where I had been a leader in the national youth programming.

Leaving the exciting and wonderful ministry in Canada had been hard. So much had happened in that area of our lives. We had met thousands of people across Canada and touched base with others in many parts of the world.

Arriving in Hong Kong in early 1981 was a huge reality check – we were suddenly in the middle of 6 Million people crowded on to one small piece of real-estate of 400 square miles – that is 20 Miles by 20 Miles. We were in the middle of 6 Million people that could have cared less about who we were and what we were in Hong Kong to do.

We were all alone in the middle of millions. Even the local group of Canadians we were to work with had no idea that we were coming up until one week before we were to arrive.

It was crash for me personally in those first months to realize that all that I had accomplished back in Canada in that precious ministry meant next to nothing here. We were alone and began to feel the immense proportions of that aloneness… in waves.

For the next four years we struggled to find the many areas that we might fit into. It seemed that when one door would open and we walked through it – another one would swing wide open as well – and I found myself running from door to door – ministry opportunity to ministry opportunity. There was so much to do – so many, many opportunities to do it in. What possible lasting affect could you have in a place of unlimited opportunity?

In March 1984 I was told (not asked) that I was to plant a new church in the center of Kowloon. Some one had arranged in their wisdom to rent a facility on the fifth floor of an office building for a church. I was not involved in the decision making – but rather just told what I should do. This door of opportunity swung open and I was pushed through.

I was given the task of making something happen. But with that task I was given few tools and the ones that I had were shaky at best. One tool was my rudimentary Cantonese Language that was enough to get me into trouble and not enough to get me out of trouble. The other tools were my English Language Speaking ability and the many Arts and Crafts that I was able to weave into what we did.

After a considerable time of thinking about it and praying about all… I was given a name for the new church/study center. It was to be called “Yi San Jung Sum” – or “Move a Mountain Centre”. Quickly – the story of “Yi San” (Move and Mountain) is too long to tell you here – other than to say that in the ancient Chinese story one old man decided to move a mountain one shovel full at a time. His name was “Yu Gung”. People thought he was insane – “You will never do that task Yu Gung – you will die before it is ever done!” His reply was simple – “If I cannot do this in my life time my son’s will do it theirs. If they do not do this in their life… their son’s will. It will be done!”

“Moving a mountain” was Yu Gung’s vision no matter how difficult of impossible people said it might be. Even with his limited tools of old China – a shovel and a wheel barrow – he would move that mountain. And it was moved.

As I prayed about this and realized that I had so few tools to do this job and it seemed impossible – I was exactly like Yu Gung. The task at hand for all of the students that we were meeting was the same… they needed help with their studies and the possibilities of a future. It was at that time that God whispered into my heart and life that Yi San Jung Sum was a perfect name for what we were going to do…but it was a very non traditional name for a church!

At this 1000 word mark I have only just introduced the idea of this post.

Nine months went by of NOTHINGNESS. Each Sunday after a long week I met with my wife and two daugthers to conduct a morning church service at Yi San Jung Sam. Only the four of us attended. It was the smallest church that I ever worked with… and the most discouraging. I worked so hard to reach out to the young adults with a message of encouragement – and NOTHING HAPPENED.

At the Nine Month mark something did happen. Over 30 young people and young adults came to a knowledge of who Jesus was. Through confusion in their lives – some with family connections to the Triad – they needed help physically and spiritually. In three weeks time 30 became Christians and wanted more.

I was dumbfounded and needed help. I had a huge problem.

I contacted a very great leader, Pastor Siu, and explained my problem. He graciously introduced me to a brand new part of his church’s youth group ministry. They consisted of 30 on fire Young Adults with their own leadership team and a young Bible College Graduate by the name of Edmund.

In January 1985 I brought the 30 new Christian Young Adults together with the new 30 young adults from Pastor Siu’s church in a Weekend of Introduction. Then I did the most important thing ever – I took my hands off the ministry and gave in entirely to Pastor Edmund and his team. Instead of doing the “Great White God” thing(because I know better that you do attitude) that other missionaries had done for so many years – I stepped aside and promoted Edmund and his team.

By March 1985 the church was fully in existence. The task that was impossible was done as far as I was concerned… they were doing a wonderful job of it.

We attended and supported this amazing young church from March 1985 to June 1985… encouraging them in every way possible… then we headed home to Canada. In 1988 my wife and I slipped into the Yi San Jung Sum church one Sunday Morning. The joy that we were welcomed with was simply amazing.

As you have already guessed I am sure, Pastor Edmund is now Rev. Dr. Edmund Cheung – a very influential and important leader in one of the most exciting places on earth.

And he honored me by saying so kindly that … I was his mentor.

Thank you Brother Edmund Cheung – I am so blessed by your kind words – and they came when I most needed them.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Sources to consider…
Ecclesia Bible College

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