Thursday, March 26, 2009

While Waiting for the Harvest

And He was saying, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows -- how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." (Mark 4:26-29 NAS)

Before the Harvest As disciples of God, we have all been tasked to do our part in sharing the Gospel and in bringing the unsaved to the Lord. Fulfilling this task however is not easy, and many of us may falter when it comes to sharing Christ naturally in our daily lives because we easily become discouraged when our efforts to bring our friends, relatives, loved ones and others to Christ seem to bear no fruits.

When a relative of mine was diagnosed with brain tumor recently, I made every effort to reach out to the family to bring them to Christ, but nothing seems to go smoothly. My fervent prayers seem to yield no result and healing did not take place. In fact, it got worst and required a second surgery. Although there was a glimpse of light in the littleness of a partial answered prayed with the tumor turning out to be not as severe as the incurable with the help of chemotherapy, it was to the family disheartening to the point of losing confidence in the Christian faith, resulting in them seeking alternative faiths to try out and see if their gods can do a better job.

All these signs of unanswered prayers are understandably disheartening to the one who cast the seeds upon the soil in the hope of bringing the unsaved to the kingdom of God. But who are we to question God on the way He works or to the reason why He did not answer? God however always answers prayers, and prayers can always be answered differently with a yes, no, wait, or go through it. It is therefore not for us to know when the seed should sprout or grow, for it is God who causes the growth, not us.

I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NAS)

We must therefore when reaching out to the unsaved, never to be discouraged, because in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9). The kingdom of God "is like a mustard seed, which when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE” (Mark 4:30-32 NAS).

Our efforts to reach the unsaved for Christ are never wasted. When we sow a seed of faith by caring for someone in the name of the Lord, no matter how small the seed may be, it will accomplish its purpose and not return to the Lord void (Isaiah 55:11), for though the seed may be small, yet it will grow and become larger than all the trees with branches big enough to shelter the birds of the air. Our part therefore is to stay steadfast and not be discouraged in continuing to care for these unsaved pre-believers in living out Christ in our lives, knowing whole heartedly that He who has begun a good work in us will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

Dear Lord, teach us not to despair when we see our friends and loved ones fail to respond to You despite our every effort to bring them Your word and salvation. Help us Lord not to stop praying and caring for them. Mold us Lord to be more and more like You to reveal You in our lives so that the unsaved may know Your love everlasting and return to You.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Church History of Japan and Korea

Church History of Japan and Korea Many Christians know about church history in the days of the apostles and the Reformation Movement in the days of Martin Luther and John Calvin. Few however know the history of Christianity in Asia, how it began and how it has expanded to what it is today.

This article details how Christianity began in Japan and Korea.

The earliest record of Christianity in Japan dates back to the sixth century. In those days, the people of Japan were already making contact with China, during which time Christianity was embraced by the Tang emperor. Japanese visitors to China in both the Tang (618-906) and Yuan (1260-1368) dynasties were believed to be influenced by Christian teachings while they were there and some missionaries were also believed to have visited Japan.
Francis Xavier, a Jesuit, brought in Christianity to Japan in 1549. His work was continued by both his and other Catholic Orders such as the Franciscans and Dominicans, which brought about 250 churches by 1582. Protestant missionary work in Japan began in 1859 with highly gifted men in various fields who were known for their spiritual depth. These men included James C Hepburn of the Presbyterian, Channing M Williams of the Episcopal, and Samuel R Brown of the Reformed.

At first, the government authorities permitted missionary effort only because they did not want to offend the treaty powers. In 1873, when the Japanese government learnt that religious freedom was a prerequisite to revision of the unequal treaties, a new surge in evangelization spread through Japan.
Today, about one to two million Japanese are Christians, constituting to about only 1% of Japan's population. Most of them live in Western Japan where missionaries' activities were greatest during the sixteenth century.

No record of missionaries or organized body of believers in Korea was found before the middle of the seventeenth century, although there were traces of Koreans having contact with Christianity as far back as 1592, many of whom were converted Christian members of the invading Japanese armies of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

In 1784, a young man, Yi Seung-hun, at the requests of some Korean scholars, went to Beijing in search of missionaries to ask them about the strange Catholic doctrines which had been filtering across the border since 1631 through smuggled Christian literatures. On returning to Korea after a few months, he began to spread the faith. By the time the first priest and foreign missionary Chou Wen-Mo arrived ten years later, there were already 4,000 Catholics in Korea.

During the years 1810, 1839, 1846 and 1866, great persecutions took place and many suffered martyrdom. Christianity however could not be stamped out, and many were driven underground and scattered.

In 1832, a Protestant German Carl Gutzlaff distributed Scriptures along the eastern coast of Korea, and in 1866, a Welshman Robert J Thomas lost his life in a similar attempt. He was killed at P'yongyang in the act of offering a Bible to the man who beheaded him, and he is revered as Korea's first Protestant martyr. Two Scots, John Ross and John MacIntyre baptized the first Korean Protestant in Manchuria in 1876, and it was one of the Koreans baptized in Manchuria who established the first worshipping Korean Protestant congregation after winning over a 100 believers to Christ when he returned to Korea in 1883.

Beginning 1895 and continuing about 15 years, there was dramatic explosion in the growth of the Protestant church in Korea. This was spearheaded by the evangelistic work of Samuel A Moffett and his colleagues in the Presbyterian churches northwest of Korea. Christianity was later spread nationally in the Great Revival of 1907. Denominational barriers were broken, and Christians were moved to join together in witness, and in those 15 years, the Protestant community grew from 802 in 1895 to 167,352 in 1910.

During World War II, North Korea was held by the Communists who immediately destroyed the church as an organized body. By 1950, when the Communists attacked South Korea, the church in North had almost ceased to exist. When the United Nation's armies advanced to the Yalu River, 4.5 million North Koreans fled south to freedom.

The exact number of Christians in North Korea today is unknown, and the number of Christians in South Korea appears to vary vastly from different sources of information. According to CIA's World Factbook, Christians and Buddhists comprise 26% of the population of South Korea today, but other sources claim about 49% of the population are Christians.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Journal of a Prayer

Prayer for a family of three, my brother, nephew, and sister-in-law who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

In Fervent Prayer Day 1 - January 9, 2009 (Friday) Morning

I wish to request prayer for my second sister in law, Choo.

She has just been admitted to hospital and diagnosed suffering from brain cancer.

Family of three with my brother and their son, all of them are yet to be in the Lord.

Day 1 - January 9, 2009 (Friday) Afternoon

I'll be visiting the family after work today. Latest news from my nephew states the following:

He [his Dad] is kind of breaking down, today slightly better. Now need to know whether benign or malignant, but surgery inevitable.

SMS to my nephew ... Jan 09 13:24:04
My family will continue to pray, along with a few of my online Christian friends. Please take care and stay strong with dad.

Day 1 - January 9, 2009 (Friday) Evening

I've visited the family at the hospital.

Latest update indicates first CT scan result as having metastatic presence which was the reason for assumed cancer.

However, a second scan result is pending release which should be out tomorrow morning to confirm whether the brain tumor is benign or malignant.

My brother and wife have been receptive to receiving prayers from my nephew's Christian friends, and I have promised prayer for them. My brother for the first time welcomed the offer and actually requested prayer for her wife.

Thank God for opening this window to receptivity. May God provide comfort to them and give an indicative answer to the second scan result to be favorable and heal my sis in law completely, leading the family unto Himself.


SMS to my nephew ... Jan 09 18:47:03
We'll continue to pray for your mom. I and my wife will come to visit her tomorrow. You'll need your dad to persuade her. May be time to inform your mom's sister. Take care.

Day 2 - January 10, 2009 (Saturday) Morning

Thanks everyone for the prayers.

Latest update from my nephew ...

Doctors say they are unable to confirm whether the tumor is benign or malignant from the second report. Surgery is being arranged for Monday Jan 12 to remove the tumor. How much to remove will depend on situation and what the surgeons see on that day.

Day 2 - January 10, 2009 (Saturday) Afternoon

My wife and I visited the family at the hospital. I spent some time with my brother and my nephew separately to let them talk it out as I listen.

SMS to nephew after leaving hospital ... Jan 10 15:10:28
Please take care and take one step at a time. Stay strong. When there's nothing else man can do, turn to God. We will continue to pray. Anything, contact me. Regards.

Day 3 - January 11, 2009 (Sunday) Morning

SMS to my nephew ... Jan 11 06:54:35
How was last night? Please take care and find rest for yourself. Your health is just as important and all of us care for you too. Praying for your mom, you and your dad.

Day 3 - January 11, 2009 (Sunday) Afternoon

Thanks to all who are praying for my sis-in-law.

Latest development ...

The surgeon and doctor have analyzed the scans and are 80-90% certain the tumor is malignant, and they have expressed urgency for an operation. According to them, without operation its 3-6 months, and with operation its 1-3 years if malignant. My brother and nephew is devastated.

Sis-in-law is no longer in control of her mind, talking without making sense at times. Last night she attempted escape from hospital and was suicidal, taking 7-8 nurses to catch hold of her and to tie her up. My brother has gone ahead to approve the surgery for Monday and she is unhappy about it, feeling betrayed, and aggressively requesting release.

This morning sees her a little calmer with little memory of what happened, but agitation seems to increase by the hour.

Please pray for them. Ask God for a breakthrough to grant clear indication of His sovereignty in the situation that an opportunity may be made possible to turn them to the Lord. So far, the only thing I can do is to let them know I will be praying, and be there for my brother and nephew.

Dear Lord, be merciful to this family! Help them stay strong in the face of desperate times. Lead them Lord to you and help them recognize the urgent need for salvation. Show me Lord how I can help and what I must do. Lead me by Your Holy Spirit to know the right.

Day 4 - January 12, 2009 (Monday) Morning

SMS to my nephew ... Jan 12 06:10:42
May I know what time is the operation so I can pray? Have your mom's sister visited her? Did she handle it well? Keep me informed of status, ok? Take care and stay strong.

Due to too many emergency cases at the hospital, the surgery for Choo will be performed at another hospital this evening at around 5pm.

Please pray with me. Thank you.

Day 4 - January 12, 2009 (Monday) Afternoon before 5 pm

Just entered operating theater at other hospital.

Please pray with me.

Day 4 - January 12, 2009 (Monday) Evening

By the time I reached the hospital, the surgery was about over. My nephew told me that the night before, Choo attempted escape again for five times and was eventually tied.

Choo is now resting at ICU after surgery. Tumor has been 'successfully' removed, but to what extent, the surgeon did not elaborate, except to inform us to wait for analysis.

Test analysis to confirm whether tumor is malignant or benign will only be out on Thursday, January 15, 2009, but with metastatic indication, the doctor is saying it is most probably, and that it is just a matter of what grade or degree, primary or secondary, local or dispersed.

To all who have been praying along with me, I wish to say thank you and God bless you.

Once the test result is out, I will update this thread again.

Day 5 - January 13, 2009 (Tuesday) Morning

The surgeon has just informed my brother and nephew that the tumor is almost completely removed, but probably under grade III. This means the tumor is malignant and contains actively reproducing abnormal cells which can invade surrounding normal tissue and frequently recur, often as grade IV tumors (final stage).

I am praying for the analysis report coming out on Wednesday or Thursday to reveal otherwise, but whatever the result, let it be according to God's will and plan.

I agree the family's salvation is of utmost importance, as it will be a key lead to the possibility of other members in the family coming to the Lord and my mom too. For now, I stand alone in the fight.

Day 5 - January 13, 2009 (Tuesday) Afternoon

SMS to nephew ... Jan 13 12:51:38
Hope you were able to catch some sleep last night. Is your mom feeling better? Please do not worry excessively. Wait for the test report and take one step at a time. Take care.

Day 6 - January 14, 2009 (Wednesday) Morning

I am deeply grateful to all at FW who have prayed and are still praying with me. I can more than sense the support I have here.

Over the last few days, I have stood by the family and offered them some words of encouragement amid hinting to my nephew mildly on occasions to consider God for help when man can no longer play their part as physicians.

My brother has left all the decision making to his son, but my nephew is somewhat cynical towards faith in a healing God, having seen too many other religions offering miraculous healings which are pure bluff. For now, I can only pray, hoping that when the time comes, the family will make a decision for God.

Thank you all for the encouragement. I am truly grateful.

Day 6 - January 14, 2009 (Wednesday) Afternoon

SMS to nephew ... Jan 14 12:24:23
Has your mom been discharged? Are all of you on your way home? Once you have news of the test result, let me know. Take care.

Choo is due to be discharged today but as she is still drowsy, she is advised to stay for another day.

SMS to my nephew ... Jan 14 13:04:41
Is your mom now at normal ward? What is the ward and bed number? Which floor is it? Is your mom still feeling pain? How are you and your dad?

Latest update from my nephew ...

Doctor says pathologist will need a week more to determine the tumor as it is slightly unusual, but tentatively shouldn't be the worse type as initially thought, but should be malignant.

Day 6 - January 14, 2009 (Wednesday) Evening

Visited the family at hospital ward. Choo appears to be fine apart from feeling drowsy. My brother informed me that Choo is no longer in full control of certain senses.

Day 7 - January 15, 2009 (Thursday) Afternoon

Choo has been discharged and will be returning to the public hospital where she was first admitted for stitch-take-off on Tuesday, January 20.

SMS to my nephew ... Jan 15 14:33:49
Has your mom been discharged? How is she feeling today? Please take care.

SMS from my nephew ... Jan 15 15:38:44
Doing paperwork now for discharge. Stitches will be removed on Tuesday [January 20, 2009]. My father says thanks to you for all the help and support.

Day 9 - January 17, 2009 (Saturday) Evening

My nephew has decided to delay his graduation by a couple of months in order to alternate with my brother to take care of sis-in-law. Choo is slightly better now and is finally able to walk on her own today.

SMS to my nephew ... Jan 17 22:37:05
Heard from my mom today that your mom fell down while at Raffles [hospital of surgery]? Is everything ok? It is thoughtful of you to delay your graduation. You have done the right thing. Take care.

SMS from my nephew ... Jan 18 01:02:39
Ya, but she finally can walk on her own today. Thanks for being there for my dad and me.

Day 12 - January 20, 2009 (Tuesday) Morning

SMS from my nephew ... Jan 20 06:45:30
How is your mom? Has she fully recovered or are there still some things she is unable to do? Even till now my online friends and I are still praying for her. I am also praying she will be calm when at the hospital later. Let me know the lab result once the report is out. Take care and stay strong.

Day 12 - January 20, 2009 (Tuesday) Afternoon

SMS from my nephew ... January 20 14:54:03
It is maglinant, but low grade glioma ... now we are asked to choose between chemo or radiotheraphy, and to give alternative treatment consent for new type of chemo.

SMS to my nephew ... January 20 15:14:51
Please take care and explore the options carefully. How is your mom taking the news? How about you and your dad? Stay strong and take a step at a time. We'll continue to pray.

Day 15 - January 23, 2009 (Friday) Morning

SMS to my nephew ... January 23 08:51:45
How are your mom and dad? How are you? Have your family come to a decision on treatment? Please take care. I'll be overseas from tomorrow evening. You can continue to update me via SMS.

Day 15 - January 23, 2009 (Friday) Afternoon

My brother's family is consulting another pathologist to find out the best course of treatment. Emotionally, they are better.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have been praying alongside with me for this family. May God bless each and everyone of you exceeding abundantly beyond what you ask or think as you continue to serve Him in this crucial ministry.

SMS from my nephew ... January 23 12:19:14
Emotionally better, soon. Consulting other pathologist. Enjoy your trip.

SMS to my nephew ... January 23 13:14:22
Thanks. Please take care.

Day 28 - February 05, 2009 (Thursday) Evening

I'm just back from overseas. Understand from my mom the following:

The family has been advised by a brain specialist who is a friend of my nephew to consider chemotherapy for my sis-in-law instead of medication due to possible side effect. Decision will have to be confirmed on February 17 during next appointment.

SMS to my nephew ... February 05 22:16:11
I'm back [from overseas]. Understand [from my mom] you have been advised to take up therapy for your mom instead of medication due to possible side effect. Also understand you need to decide by February 17 during next appointment. Please take care and keep me posted. Whatever the decision, please take it in stride and leave the rest to God.

Day 40 - February 17, 2009 (Tuesday) Afternoon

Decision has been made today for Choo to go with radiotherapy of 30 sessions starting Feb 25.

SMS to my nephew ... February 17 13:32:44
How is the medical review today? How is your mom taking the decision? Is she going ahead with chemo? Please take care. Any help needed, let me know. Keep me informed.

SMS from my nephew ... February 17 14:09:44
Will be doing radiotherapy of 30 sessions from Feb 25. She cries often ... quite upsetting.

Day 45 - February 22, 2009 (Sunday) Evening

Latest update from my nephew says Choo will be having radiotherapy daily for six weeks beginning Feb 25.

SMS from my nephew ... February 22 16:36:53
Hi uncles, just an update, my mom will be starting radiotherapy on 25th Feb for 6 weeks, daily.

SMS to my nephew ... February 22 18:44:44
Ok, please take good care of your mom during this period. Need any help, let us know. We can understand it will be difficult for all of you. Will continue to pray for you and your family. Take care and stay strong. Don't neglect your own health as well. Find rest. May God grant you His peace.

SMS reply from my nephew ... February 22 19:37:22
Thanks uncle. Yep, lets pray.

Day 48 - February 25, 2009 (Wednesday) Morning / Afternoon

Negative news and I am somewhat upset. Maybe laying of hands is needed or maybe I am not doing enough. Please pray with me for them.

SMS from my nephew ... February 25 10:07:07
Hi uncles, my mom was warded yesterday. It now appears that she need another op on Friday. The tumor came back aggressively and even bigger, unlikely to be low grade. My dad is very down now ...

SMS from my nephew ... February 25 Feb 10:09:31
... but try not to call him now, as he is driving alone. Scared he breaks down again.

SMS to my nephew ... February 25 12:54:39
That's not good and I am deeply sadden too. I'll be updating my online group of friends to pray. Please let me know the hospital ward and bed number. Please take care as well.

SMS to my wife ... February 25 12:49:26
To be honest, I can't help feeling a little upset and disappointed. Maybe laying of hands is needed, but it won't be proper for me to do so or to ask her belief and faith to receive, and then lay hands. I will have to find out more details and decide whether to visit this evening. Please pray with me for them. Maybe I'm not doing enough.

Day 49 - February 26, 2009 (Thursday) Morning

I am in a dilemma as to how I should reach out to my brother's family because of two main barriers. First, it is uncommon in our culture for a man to speak to the wife of a sibling. Second, my brother and sis-in-law only understand native language and ethnic dialect which I am not conversant in. My brother is in a refusal state at this point, not wanting help nor to trouble anyone.

SMS from my nephew ... February 26 01:31:45
I am not sure if it is a good idea, but I think neither my dad nor I would want to trouble you guys. Maybe when free, could give him a ring or something.

SMS to my nephew ... February 26 08:11:46
No trouble. Just let me know the ward and bed number. I hope to visit all of you and if possible to pray for your mom in person, that is, if she agrees. I and my friends will be praying. Please stay strong and take one step at a time, standing united in love and care as a family.

SMS from my nephew ... February 26 09:57:28
The doctor told my dad if malignant, probably a year only. He is very upset now, but I told him nothing is confirmed, but doesn't seem to help. Tomorrow's operation should be about 0830.

SMS to my nephew ... February 26 10:18:55
Please continue to keep me informed regularly and feel free to contact me if you need help. I'll be praying. Take care and stay strong.

Day 49 - February 26, 2009 (Thursday) Evening

Visited the family at the hospital after finding out from them the ward and bed number via phone call upon arrival. Managed to convince my brother to let me pray for sis-in-law despite their turning away to seek other faith and to perform rites as suggested by friends of my nephew. My brother and nephew have apparently chosen not to tell my sis-in-law of her condition. Sis-in-law seem to be in a frail state with mind beyond her control especially at night. Timing for surgery tomorrow has been rescheduled to around 10-11am.

I've prayed for peace to prevail and for healing. May God grant her a good night sleep, and may my brother and nephew see the touch of the Lord.

Day 50 - February 27, 2009 (Friday) Morning

SMS to my nephew ... February 27 11:08:25
Is she already in OT? Keep me informed, ok? Thanks. Take care and pray.

SMS from my nephew ... February 27 11:09:47
Ya ... I guess an hour more

SMS to my nephew ... February 27 11:18:32
Any issues last night? Did she get proper sleep? How did you get her to accept the op? Stay calm and do not be troubled excessively. God grant you comfort and peace.

SMS from my nephew ... February 27 11:20:28
I think she was calm. Somehow. Thanks for the healing prayer yesterday.

Day 50 - February 27, 2009 (Friday) Afternoon

She is now out of OT and in ICU. No update from the surgeon yet.

SMS to my nephew ... February 27 14:46:24
How is your mom?

SMS from my nephew ... February 27 15:26:11
Should be out very soon.

SMS from my nephew ... February 27 17:10:11
Now she is in ICU, but can't get to talk to doc yet.

SMS to my nephew ... February 27 17:18:19
Thanks for the update. Let me know once the doc visits and gives an update. I'll drop by this evening to catch up with all of you. Take care.

Day 50 - February 27, 2009 (Friday) Evening

Visited the family at the ICU. My sis-in-law is awake and looking ok, able to talk. Managed to spend a little time with my brother and nephew to check out how they are doing.

They told me that late last night in their absence, the doctor came to see my sis-in-law and spoke to her about her condition, and sought her signed consent. She was described to be calm and in the right state of mind. This morning, when my nephew and brother saw her to the operating theater, she remained calm and did not pick up an issue with them for agreeing without her consent, which she did during the previous surgery.

My sis-in-law is expected to be moved to the wards tomorrow afternoon.

Day 52 - March 2, 2009 (Monday) Evening

SMS to my nephew ... March 2 19:01:40
How is your mom? Is she still on drip? I will not be able to visit the next few days, so please take care and keep me informed.

Day 53 - March 3, 2009 (Tuesday) Morning

SMS from my nephew ... March 3 09:42:18
Doing ok. No more on drip, but got to stay till Sunday.

Day 54 - March 4, 2009 (Wednesday) Morning / Afternoon

The medical report is out with some positive news. The diagnosis indicates it is lymphoma cancer, not GBM (glioblastoma multiforme cancer) which the doctors earlier suspect to be. Lymphoma is one of the most curable form of cancer, while GBM is the deadliest.

Thank God for this news. May God continue to work in this family in growing their faith to turn to God and receive His salvation.

SMS from my nephew ... March 4 09:27:55
The diagnosis is out. It is lymphoma cancer, one of the most curable form of cancer, and not what was initially thought to be GBM [Glioblastoma Multiforme], the deadliest form. This is nothing short of a miracle as its occurrences are much lower. There is so much hope now!

SMS to my nephew ... March 4 12:53:49
Thank God! I am happy for your family. Thank you for sharing with me this piece of good news. Will inform my praying team too. Will still keep all of you in prayer.

SMS from my nephew ... March 4 13:41:15
Yes, let's continue to pray.

Day 55 - March 5, 2009 (Thursday) Evening

SMS from my nephew ... March 5 17:21:48
The exact diagnosis is diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Chemo of 20 cycles needed and each cycle have to stay 4-5 days. Both [dad and mom] cried when they heard. But now slightly better. I told them things could have been much worse. At least now still got treatment with the potential of being cured.

SMS to my nephew ... March 5 18:57:49
We will continue to pray for your family. Take care.

SMS from my nephew ... March 5 20:44:43
Yes ... Miracles will happen again.

Day 57 - March 7, 2009 (Saturday)

My sis-in-law was granted home leave last night and will be returning to the hospital tomorrow (Sunday) morning for first session of chemotherapy. My brother and nephew will be seeing another specialist at another hospital with the report on March 9 (Monday) for a second opinion.

My mom is not taking all this very well. She herself is suffering from acute arthritis for many years and both her legs are constantly in pain with knee caps both changed in the past. When I offered to pray for her, she turned a little hostile, being an anti-Christian who have persecuted me for years as a teenager when I was first converted. Now, although she accepts me for what I believe, she still shows great displeasure every time I talk to her about the Christian faith. To add to the pain, she reminded me that it is probably the chanting prayers of the Japanese religion (probably Sôka Gakkai) which my brother and nephew turned to the other day that probably helped my sis-in-law get the diagnosis of a lesser cancer - lymphoma.

Despite my mom's unwillingness, however, I chose to lay my hands at her feet and prayed for her silently, with her knowing what I am doing. She did not resist much, and I hope God will do something here so that she may recognize the power of God and turn to Him.

Through all these happenings, I feel in my spirit there are some forces at work in the spiritual realm and I am praying against these interferences, and for God to provide a breakthrough so that all of them, my mom, my brothers and their families can turn to Christ.

Day 59 - March 9, 2009 (Monday) Afternoon / Evening

SMS to my nephew ... March 9 16:43:49
How is your mom doing? How are you and your dad? Please take care ok? Keep me informed whenever there is an update from the doctors. Feel free to contact me for anything.

SMS from my nephew ... March 9 18:32:52
Sure. Thanks so much.

Dear Lord, please keep watch over this family. Help them look towards You in time of desperation and in time wanting. Cover them Lord and keep them safe from desperate alternatives, for Lord we know only through You is salvation. Lead them to make the right decision in the course of treatment, Lord, and lead them to turn to You to find true comfort and have a personal relationship with You. Protect them Lord from the attacks of the devil and his forces. All these, I ask in Your most precious and holy name. Amen.

NOTE: This article is an actual prayer request made to the prayer warriors of FaithWriters.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Returning to God

Forgiveness of GodThe Forgiveness of God
How can we know we have not gone too far? How can we be sure we have not made ourselves unforgivable in the eyes of God?

The answer is not found in our ability to forget, or in our ability to forgive ourselves, or even in our ability to feel forgiven. The answer is found in the extent to which God has gone to bear the pain and punishment of what we deserve.

We all carry guilt and regret, and we need to know with certainty that God’s forgiveness has truly lifted the load of our guilt and shame. In this study, we explore the depth, nature, and cost of the forgiveness that only God can give.
Our prayer is that in the pages of this brief booklet we will find a freedom of conscience that will compel us to spend the rest of our lives telling others about the wonderful forgiveness of God. Read more ...

The Way BackThe Way Back
Why and how do Christians fall into sin? Though there are many answers, there are several distinct principles that mark out sinning believers, and author Richard W. De Haan exposes those for us in this study. Read more ...

Source: RBC Ministries ~ Discovery Series

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Living in God's Will

And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. (Acts 12:2 NAS)

And the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me." (Acts 12:8 NAS)

In God's Will Not all things in life go the way we want it. Sometimes God may want us to go through a trial, at other times, He may choose to bring you out of it.

In Acts 12:1-19, we read the passage about how Herod persecuted the Christians. In verse 2, we read about James the brother of John being put to death by the sword. Just a few verses later, we read about how Peter was miraculously saved by an angel.

Do we at times question why God allows death to come to a family, while at other times chooses to heal another? Why must James die by the sword, while Peter is saved by an angel?

We may think that the difference between the death of James and the saving of Peter is because many prayed for Peter, but none was mentioned to be praying for James. This may be true, but we all know that even with prayer, there are some who are destined to die now than later. What then is the reason that God choose to save one and not the other?

Over the last few weeks, I have been praying for my sister-in-law to be healed of brain tumor, but after the first operation, another surgery soon came, and this time it appears to be worst. In fact, she is now still in the hospital, and I am not sure how by not healing her, God will be able to lead this family to Himself. In fact, with the seemingly unanswered prayer for the first surgery, this family has sought other options to turn to other faith.

Though a little disheartened, I am not discouraged, because the Lord has shown me His grace time and again, and I believe God answers all prayers, whether it be yes, no, wait or go through it. God can choose to take one away from an ordeal, and to have another go through it. It is not for us to question why certain things happen the way it happened, for ultimately it is God's will that must prevail.

We can all take comfort from the verse Romans 8:28 that all things work together for the good of those who love God, including the people whom we are placed to be in contact. May we all therefore be sensitive to the Lord's leading in doing our part to serve Him regardless how difficult the situation may be.

Dear Lord, teach us not to complain or question why certain things happen the way it happened. Calm our souls, Lord, to be sensitive to Your leading, knowing always that You know what is best in every situation. Help us to play our part in fulfilling Your will, and lead us by Your Holy Spirit to walk every step of the way by faith in Jesus’ name. Amen.