Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hope in the Lord

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen you heart, all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24

God is so good to keep His promises. The truth in this verse has become very real to me during this past week. There have been many moments when I was discouraged and felt that I could not keep going. But as I chose to hope in the Lord, He was faithful to strengthen my heart.

I love how God is not limited in any way. He can use anything to speak to me and encourage me. A devotional on the Antichrist, a song, spending time at the beach, answered prayer, just the right verse at just the right time, talking to Him as I gaze at the city below and the twinkling lights in the dark night.

Just today I was refreshed and strengthened by my Father in so many ways. My favourites were singing to the Lord with the rest of the team here and watching a beautiful sunset. I don't know how to put into words all the faithfulness of God that I've been experiencing, but I pray this encourages you to continue hoping in the Lord. He shall strengthen your heart!

Mary Morrison

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Making a Difference

When you've done the same thing over and over again, it's easy to forget why you do it. Do the CIs really make that much of a difference in children' lives to justify the time and energy we put into it? It's a question I've been asking myself as I spend time serving in the CI this year.

It's easy for me to justify commitment to a ministry by pointing to the fulfilment it gives me, the people I enjoy working with, or the love I have for a certain country but clearly, this doesn't give the full picture. One lesson we've been teaching the children this year is about sensitivity. The point I love about the lesson is that when we are sensitive to the people around us, we are being Jesus' arms and legs. A little girl with a cut on her leg might pray for Jesus to come fix it but it is the sensitivity of a passer-by that will answer that prayer, though Jesus isn't hindered from accomplishing it Himself.

The concept of being Jesus' arms and legs has been a good reminder to me this week as I did things I didn't feel accomplished much, whether it was reasoning with a boy who insisted on chewing on Christmas lights or comforting a 4 year old screaming for her mother. It's something I'm still very much learning, that the success of our ministry can't always be quantified.

Today was the last day of our CI in Kaohsiung. As the day came to a close, a teacher came to ask if I would visit her small group to sign the children's books. The children's excitement over that simple act surprised me! Later on, a lady approached with her daughter, asking if she could snap a picture of us together. Her other daughter, already attending the Basic Seminar, stood beside her and she mentioned remembering me from when she was attending the CI. Two little incidents. But just as our ministry is sometimes through avenues that seem so small, so too do such little incidents encourage my heart and remind me of why it is so worthwhile to serve our Lord!

Jolynn Tan

Friday, January 29, 2016

Victory in Christ

This week at CI, I feel like Satan has been spiritually attacking so many of us, because it's one way to discourage us and diminish our testimony. Spiritual attacks come in the form of many things, including relationship crisis, illness, financial trouble, and reminders of personal struggles. It can also come in the form of attacking those close to you, so your heart yearns to be near them and help them instead of focusing on the ministry at hand. In the past four days, I have seen every single one of these examples happen to me or people on my team. Even on the very first day, I felt so overwhelmed by the burden of so many cares on my heart.

But I can see all those things for what they really are; distractions orchestrated by the enemy to keep me and the other teachers here from being fully committed to spreading the love of God to these precious children. In some ways, it's almost encouraging, because why would Satan attack us so hard if there wasn't a real, tangible opportunity to change these little hearts for Christ?

Last night, I shared on Facebook about some of the struggles we'd been dealing with, and asked my friends and family to pray for us. I also joked that they keep today in their prayers as well, as I was sure that Satan would send us a new challenge since he'd been very punctual every day this week! I was not "disappointed"; my wonderful assistant team leader came down sick and couldn't attend the evening session, and I began to become sick myself. It would have been so easy to just throw in the towel and say, "seriously God?"

But our Lord is faithful! Even though our team leaders were greatly reduced, God put a special blessing of calmness and attentiveness to the kids on our team, so we were able to manage with just one Chinese-speaking teacher and myself. I could feel the hand of God on our team, blessing the time we spent together. Instead of rushing around trying to wrangle small children into some semblance of a circle and attempting to make a craft without anyone hitting each other or bursting into tears, we were able to finish our crafts on time and even spend some quality time on a lesson. I felt like the kids listened their best tonight; better than any night this week.

I share this story because it's just one example in a long chain of examples of how God looks out for His own and puts a hedge of protection around those who ask for it. Satan is strong, but our God is stronger still and He's already won the victory. We do not need to fear!

Pictures in this post are courtesy of: John Huang

Elisabeth Corduan

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Rewards of Teaching

Today was a bit of a culture shock for me. In the morning we took a ferry to Cijin, a port city on a little island off of Kaohsiung. It was there where I tasted the most unique Taiwanese food yet. It was all very enjoyable! I like trying new things, although it almost seems that I am trying some new delicacy every single day here in Taiwan.

We had our devotions on the gorgeous black sand beach. During our devotion time, we talked about believing in God. We then thought of word pictures that would describe belief and drew murals in the sand depicting those word pictures.

I have learned a lot these last two weeks. This is my first time teaching children so it has been challenging at times. But it is so rewarding seeing the children who really grasp onto the aspects of God's love that we have been teaching them.

Teaching the children has been a blast. I have had an awesome time working with the other CI teachers. I am so grateful that the Lord led me here to teach on the CI team.

Jake Carriger

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Excitement of a Child

This is the second time for me to serve as an interpreter in the CI. As my week here began, I soon noticed how different everything here is compared to my regular life. My daily routine totally changed after entering college as no longer did everyone around me know about Jesus.

In our morning team devotional time here at the CI, I realized that it was a long time since I had laid down my work and put aside private time for God. I guess God had noticed that too and had brought me to the CI to be reminded of that. Putting aside time for God also reminds me to let Him control my life, instead of scrutinising my every thought and action. I received the same message when spending time with other CI teachers, “We can make our dreams come true, but that’s our dreams, not God’s. They may not be as good as His dreams for us.” It is just so important to let God control our lives!

Building relationships with kids in the CI is another challenge for me. Each of them requires attention and love but there are only three of us teachers on the team. Right from the start, it was difficult to hold their attention while at the same time demonstrating God’s love to them. I was so busy interpreting and helping the kids that I barely had time to answer in full sentences.

But just like God has created each of us different, there are many ways to convey His love. Whether it is teaching the kids to memorize a Bible verse, helping them to complete their crafts or answering their questions, God can move their hearts through each little action. I remember a kid bouncing up and down and laughing after watching me act in a skit, saying “I knew it! You were in the skit, right?” To be honest, I didn't remember seeing that little girl before, but God made her approachable for me. Her excitement filled me with thankfulness and joy and I was reminded of the amazing opportunity with have here to pour our lives into the children.

Anne Kuo

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Christ's Little Ones

Today I found myself at the center of a circle of thirteen children all eagerly staring into my eyes ready to hear my lessons and stories. I love looking into the eyes of my kids because when I look into their eyes I can see myself as a child. I accepted Christ at a very young age and sense the moment of my salvation at the ripe age of six years old I have loved all things Jesus and church. I can vividly remember myself at six years old so in love with Jesus and who he is that I would ask to sing Jesus loves me as a church special every week. I see myself eagerly listening to missionaries as they tell their stories of people in far off places that we need to pray for and raising my hand every week to ask that we remember to pray for those Muslims in west Africa. I see myself running around my house singing to myself “I’m just a little girl with Jesus in my heart. My brothers and sisters are mean to me but I do not really care because… I’m just a little girl with Jesus in my heart.”

It is hard to believe that I am no longer the child in this story instead…I am the teacher. I’m the missionary telling the stories inviting the children to consider their lives and the lives of those around them.

This week in our devotions we have been going through first John and just yesterday we were posed with the question where do you see yourself in your Christian walk based on the passage from first John chapter two.  As a small child who is just accepting salvation, as a young Christian strong in faith fighting the lies of the devil or as a mature Christian firm in who God is and who he has been from the beginning. When pondering this passage I realized I have been a Christian for twenty years. I should be the mature Christian because I have known Christ from the beginning. Yes I am still young and find myself in constant battle with Satan and his lies. Yet at my heart I am still just that little girl still wrapping my mind around Jesus and His great love for me. I still have to remind myself of the lyrics to that famous song:
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong they are weak but He is strong!”
Preparing Crafts Before the Children Arrive
These little ones staring deep into my eyes are Christ’s little ones. He loves them so deeply and here I stand the teacher. It is now my task to share with them the height, the weight and the depth of God's love for them. So that they can in turn run around their house singing “I am just a little one with Jesus in my heart, even when others reject me I can still sing because I have Jesus in my heart and He is the only one who can satisfy. For this task I am completely unqualified yet in my weakness Christ is made strong.” Please pray for our kids this week that we might be vessels of Gods love that will fill these small hearts to overflowing that they can walk away knowing that Jesus does indeed love them.

Elise Glenn

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Day of Rest

Team Devotions from 1 John
I have worked with VOICE Missions in Taiwan for the past 2½ years. While I have wanted to help with the CIs before this, I never had the time. This year, God cleared my schedule and made time for me to come.

The first CI was a wonderful experience, filled to the brim with excitement. I enjoyed it very much, but it was a little tiring so having a day between CIs to rest was perfect - just what I needed to be ready for the next CI. I was able to spend time with the other CI teachers and become better acquainted with them. We had a fun time exploring the Kaohsiung Arena!

I have enjoyed working with everyone, and hearing their different ideas and experiences. Working with various people made me think about new ways to teach and love the kids. I have been challenged to think about how I demonstrate the love of God.

Our next CI in Kaohsiung starts tomorrow night! We will appreciate prayers for the health of team members as some are already falling ill.

Kristina Dzimianski

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Showing God's Love

This CI was my first time acting and interpreting at the same time. I was really nervous at first, but later in the story it got interesting. I learned that it is really hard to multitask and I am not very good at multitasking.

I enjoyed acting and interpreting the story because these stories can change lives and they make the kids happy. This year is my first time to help with the CI. But I had plenty of experience helping in other camps. As opposed to other camps, the CI is full of love not only from the teachers but also from our mighty God.

At other camps in Taiwan, I couldn't be very loving to the children. I had to be very strict at those camps but the CI is different. Here, I can love the children and discipline them in a loving way. So instead of yelling at them, I just put my arms around them to help them pay attention.

One highlight of the first CI was a three year old boy who acted like a real wolf when we played the game “What is the time, Mr. Wolf?” as part of the lesson about Jesus being the Door of the sheep. The little boy held up his hands and pretended to have claws. He chased all the kids around but he didn't catch any because he was too excited about being the wolf. It was adorable!

Also during this CI, snow slowly came down from the sky. It was the first time I saw snow in Taiwan. It was breathtaking. I'm am so blessed to have this opportunity to see God working in the kids.

Pictures in this post are courtesy of: Tracy Chang

Thomas Liao

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I'm Weak, He's Strong!

This year is the first time for me to be a "Chinese mouth" (i.e. interpreter) in CI. I remember the first time that Tim asked me to be his interpreter for the VOICE retreat, I cried right in front of him! One reason is that my level of English is not that good. The other reason is that I was afraid of interpreting the wrong word in front of everybody and that they might laugh at me or worse - correct me on the spot. How awkward that would be!

This year, I was also very nervous when Tim asked me to be the "Chinese mouth", but I took the challenge. I guess he didn't give me any choice anyway, but still, I thank him for pushing me to grow. As someone once told me, it's good to be afraid of doing something. That way, you will trust God with all your heart, ask Him for help, and through that see how amazing God is! You will be able to experience His power and His love.

So, though I often feel afraid before I go up on stage, I have faith in God and give it all to Him. I sense His presence with me and know that I can't do this without Him. Yes, I still make mistakes on stage sometimes and have awkward moments when I forget words but I feel God's love through the kids, the teachers and Tim. Just as it says in 2 Corinthians 12:10 "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”.

Pictures in this post are courtesy of: Conway Liu

Katherine Shu

Friday, January 22, 2016

Spreading God's Light

In our daily lives, we often rely on the way we feel to get things done. However, in doing so we will realise that our feelings aren’t always correct. We need someone to guide us to walk along the right path. This person is Jesus!

God works through our authorities to guide us. God can also use us to guide others. From the time I was young, I grew up attending the CIs. I learned lots of character qualities and the things that my teachers taught me have made a difference in my life. I still remember the stories from large group. I see that the Lord used the teachers to show me the Light. More than that, the Lord is using me today to bring that same Light to these children.

If we want to see the Light, we have to be obedient. Tonight, I found that the kids on my team were not paying attention during large group. They kept standing up but when I told them to listen attentively, they chose to obey me. Due to their attentiveness, they were able to learn something from the story. And the story brought Light to their lives.

John 8:12 says “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the Light of the World: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of Life.”. I pray that all of the children here will have a personal relationship with Christ and gain Light in their lives.

Vivian Huang

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Impact: Are We Making A Difference?

It is the small things in life that can make an impact on someone forever! Tonight, I pointed out that one of the kids had a penguin on his shirt and he picked up the little penguin fin that hung from his shirt and waved it at me. It was so precious! The joy that kid passed on to me with his little penguin wave, caused me smile and that smile lasted for the rest of the night.

Impacting people isn’t only about what you say or do; it is about how you make the other person feel. Children are especially good at remembering how you made them feel, because moments in their youth could impact them the rest of their lives.

Today, we were discussing teachers that impacted us in our past and I was surprised by how many teachers at CI were actually impacted by their CI teachers in the past. I thought “Wow! I get to have the same chance to make that kind of impact on my students this week.” This actually made me a little nervous, but 1 John 3:18 reminded me that actions speak louder than words:“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other let us show the truth by our actions.”. 

I want to love the kids at CI not only with my words but also with my actions. I am so excited that I get to point these kids towards the truth this week. I know God loves and has big plans for each one of my students!

Joanna Glenn

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pray For Us!

The trip has just begun but it has already been a great experience. It all has been pretty much new to me with it being the first time overseas and the first time doing the Children's Institute. But in everything I've been doing I feel as if someone has been there just to teach me a new word or just to lend a hand.
I feel so blessed being around so many wonderful people. I have seen God at work through this trip and in the people around me. I know He is the only one that could have arranged this and made it run so smoothly.

One of the things we all really need is prayer. Pray for us teachers, that we would have wisdom while teaching the children. Pray for the leaders that they would have wisdom in arranging this conference. And pray for the children that their hearts would be open to learn more about Christ.

Daniel Fedoriw