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Allowing Jesus to use your talent
Author Hope Flinchbaugh shares good news resulting from her honouring God with her talent …
Readers of Across the China Sky, the second novel in my Daughter of China series, will recall the ins and outs of the dangerous eastern Lighting Cult.
Girl saved from a cult
Just recently a university student’s parents called me to say that my book had saved their daughter’s life. Their American daughter was in China and members of the EL cult were following her to coerce her into converting to their cult.
Fortunately she’d read my novel before she left home and so she called home and said, ‘Mom, go find that book! There’s information in the back that I need!’
It blessed my heart to see another of these ‘old books’ of mine being used to save lives. Only Jesus could do so much. And it’s an advantage to have the paper/print copy because it can be easily passed from one person to another.
I’ve also had a few other encouragements lately on these old novels, this one for example:
My mother needed twenty-five rounds of radiation. My sisters and I took turns driving her to the appointments. At the radiation clinic, Kelly the receptionist offered to help me find a wheelchair for Mom and with the transfer to and from the car.
Kelly was a Godsend, and I really needed her help that day. Later she and Mom were talking while I went to get the car. When I got back, she said, ‘Your mom says you write books about China and North Korea.’
I explained briefly that I did. We got mom into the car. Kelly asked again my novel writing, and I told her about Daughter of China, the first novel in a series that shows through the power of fiction the awful condition of China’s orphanages at that time and the horrific suffering that Christians were enduring in the late 1990s for Christ.
Kelly wiped back tears and kept nodding like a bobble-head doll. I asked, ‘You’ve read Daughter of China?’ She kept nodding and wiping back tears.
‘Wow, that’s awesome,’ I said. ‘I rarely run into anyone anymore who’s read that book.’ (It was published in 2000!). Kelly kept nodding and wiping back tears. Finally she shared, ‘That’s why I have my two little nieces.’ I stared at her trying to piece it all together and asked, ‘Because of my book?’
She kept nodding and wiping back tears. ‘We read that book and that’s why we have my two nieces. We went to China and got them.’
Wow! I hugged Kelly and just praised God.
Being used by Jesus
Actually, that first book brought about many adoptions from China and I couldn’t be more pleased. One couple adopted a little Chinese daughter named Hope and moved their sons and Hope to China and started a home for children with special needs.
University students from America have gone into China to serve in the work place while ministering on weekends in the underground house churches and even Three Self Churches there. Whole youth groups were required to read the book before going to China to be ‘donkeys for Jesus.’
Jesus can do so much with our small obedience! I’m bragging about Jesus, not me! If these three novels are all I ever do for Jesus, it is enough. He had asked me to ‘do something about it’ (the dying rooms in China) and I did – by his grace, I did! I am so grateful to be used in this way.
I’m reminded of Harriet Tubman, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. When President Lincoln met her he shook her hand and said, ‘So, this is the little lady who started the (Civil) War?’ I saw in her example the power that fiction could have to change the minds of people bent on prejudice or apathy.
I can only pray that each reader who’s adopted has now led their child to Jesus. What a reunion we’ll all have one day!
Use our giftedness while there is time
I long to write the last novel in that Daughter of China series. I also have a few others that need to get out there as well, particularly one on the cross.
Yet God continually hands me work of editing and ghostwriting for other people.
But he always knows best! He knows that they’re all his to keep, release, shuffle, whatever! Paul’s Colossians 3:23 direction, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,’ is still comforting advice.
The truth is that we never really know whose life we touch or influence when we use our God-given talent for our real master – Jesus Christ. The Message Bible puts that verse and verse 4-5 this way: ‘Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being Christian doesn’t cover up bad work.’
Can I encourage every Christian to use our talents for the Master – however he leads us. After all, Jesus said, ‘We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the One who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.’(John 9:4).
Daughter of China and other novels by Hope – link: www.amazon.com/C.-Hope-Flinchbaugh/e/B001ITYP0S
What would you do if one of your church’s new and trusted converts befriended you, paid your way to a popular Christian conference and, after you arrived there, she kidnapped you into an evil cult?
What if that new convert drugged you and tried to sexually seduce you? Whose lives would your decision impact? How would you escape brainwashing, seduction, and coercion of an evil cult?
Across the China Sky will take you to the edge of the cliff where Christian Chinese leaders actually made their decision—and today, live with the consequences.
Young Soon has one desire – she wants to hear her children laugh. A widow, pregnant with her third child, Young Soon cooks grass soup just to survive. The town loud speaker, her only news source, brags daily that her beloved North Korea is prospering while the rest of the world is starving.
Will Young Soon be forced to abandon her communist beliefs? Must she risk her life and the lives of her children to cross the guarded Tumen River?
Inside China, 21-year-old Mei Lin (Daughter of China and Across the China Sky) launches her first missionary tour. While on a journey of miracles, Mei Lin has a heart-pounding dream of a baby crying out to her from murky waters. Who is this baby? How will she find him?
DAUGHTER OF CHINA
Daughter of China Series, Novel 1
Like young women everywhere, Mei Lin longs for an education, a career—even love. But the system she lives in doesn’t tolerate religious belief, and Mei Lin’s faith is as profound as it is simple. Must she abandon her beliefs to have the life she’s dreamed of?
Daughter of China (Catherine Marshall Christy Award of Excellence in 2003) will linger in the mind long after the last page has been read.
Biochemist scientist on Christian Radio
Ron Chatelier (see October’s Focus article Random Thoughts of a Physical Biochemist) reports a radio opportunity of sharing genuine Christianity.
‘A few days ago I was interviewed by Neil Johnson of Vision Christian Radio on the topic of faith and science. He had read my article that Connecting with You that had been picked up by Dan Wooding’s ASSIST News Service and asked me to share on VCR.’
Ron adds, ‘I mentioned that scientists deal with falsifiable hypotheses, and that Christianity too can be falsified (if someone finds bones that belong to Jesus then he has not been raised from the dead and our faith is in vain – 1Cor 15:14).
The radio opportunity afforded Ron Chatelier some 18 minutes to talk openly the topic.
‘Pushing it a little further, and without denigrating anyone’s character,’ Ron says, ‘I was able to point out the irony that Richard Dawkins and other atheists had embraced a particular way of thinking which was not falsifiable, and which therefore placed them outside the domain of experimental science.’
The podcast link: http://mediapoint.org.au/podcasts/0000282897.mp3
SOUTH WINDSOR (NSW), AUSTRALIA
Buying Chain benefits ministries
Dr Howard Sands, international director of Beautiful Feet Task Force (https://www.facebook.com/BeautifulFeetTaskForce), the international mission ministry for outreach and unity, also believes in quality products and services at the best possible prices for Christian organisations. Why? ‘It’s all about savings …because ministry matters!’ he says.
As Business Development Manager of Christian Supply Chain Buying Group, a buying group for Christian ministries, he points outs: ‘Providing many benefits to ministry organisations, CSCBG is delivering them substantial savings on many items they need to purchase for the ministry.’
Howard adds, ‘There are many benefits for such organisations in taking a free membership in CSCBG. We have been offering membership advantages to Christian ministry organisations such as ministries, churches, schools, education and care facilities, charities, campsites, Bible colleges, plus registered charities, non-profit (NFPs) community groups and Christian owned businesses so they can be saving money in many areas of purchasing. With over 580 corporate members from all major Christian denominations and types of charities in every state and territory of Australia, we are already gaining substantial pricing leverage with many major corporate suppliers across Australia.’
Through cooperative buying, CSCBG offers many potential areas of substantial saving for Christian organisations and has recently added electricity savings to its comprehensive list of savings areas which include food service, kitchen equipment, hospitality supplies and consumables, linen and mattresses, stationery, printers, furniture, beds, cleaning, first aid, safety equipment, building products, chemicals and cleaning products, bathroom hygiene services, outdoor equipment, laundry, pest control, sporting equipment, trophies, business and professional services, web, marketing, graphics, accounting, insurance, accommodation, and car rental.
‘Membership,’ Howard Sands points out, ‘is not so much about the costs versus benefits factor, but more about working co-operatively in unity with other Christian ministry organisations to fulfil the unique ministry of each member. Our purpose is to reduce the cost of Christian, charitable and community ministry to allow them to spend more on their core functions and support the ministry of Christian camping and conferencing in Australia.
Recently CSCBG had the opportunity to quote on wholesale foodservice for several members that were not using the CSCBG foodservice account. Amounts saved on these quotes ranged from 6.86% – 15.19% from the same supplier. A major Bible college was able to save 40.19% on its stationery. 2014 average savings delivered on fruit and veg 25.3%, hospitality 24.9%, bread 21.1%, furniture 19.7%, chemicals 23.9% plus many more categories.
Membership in Christian Supply Chain Buying Group is free.
Links: PO Box 5552, South Windsor, NSW 2756 / Ph: 1800 069 697 / http://www.cscbg.org.au / email@example.com
LOS ANGELES, CA
THE 33 shows how trapped Chilean miners survived their ordeal
Michael Ireland, ASSIST special correspondent, reports on a new movie.
The Chilean miners whose remarkable true-life story is depicted in the new film THE 33 recently had an audience with Pope Francis, who blessed them and praised them for overcoming the hardship of being buried below the earth for 69 days.
The pope told the men, ‘Every one of you could come up and tell me what hope means. The church thanks you 33 for believing in God and having faith in him.’
A powerful look at faith
THE 33, starring Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips and Juliet Binoche, is an unforgettable story, a powerful look at how faith and family fortified the miners through their ordeal. In 2010, the eyes of the world turned to Chile, where 33 miners had been buried alive by the catastrophic explosion and collapse of a 100-year-old gold and copper mine.
Over the next 69 days, an international team worked night and day in a desperate attempt to rescue the trapped men as their families and friends, as well as millions of people globally, waited and watched anxiously for any sign of hope. But 200 storeys beneath the surface, in the suffocating heat and with tensions rising, provisions – and time – were quickly running out.
A story of resilience, personal transformation and triumph of the human spirit, the film takes us to the earth’s darkest depths, revealing the psyches of the men trapped in the mine, and depicting the courage of both the miners and their families who refused to give up.
Based on the gripping true story of survival – and filmed with the cooperation of the miners, their families and their rescuers – THE 33 reveals the never-before-seen actual events that unfolded, above and below ground, which became nothing less than a worldwide phenomenon.
Several people from Copiapó, Chile, work in the San José mine. The owner ignores the warnings of the failing stability of the mine, which collapses a short time later. The only path inside the mine is completely blocked, and the thirty three miners manage to get to the rescue chamber. They discover that the radio is useless, the medical kit is empty, the ventilation shafts lacked the required ladders, and there was very little stored food.
Mario Sepulveda becomes the leader of the miners, dividing the food in rations and stopping the outbursts of violence or despair. The mine does not attempt any rescue, and the relatives of the miners gather around the gates.
The government of Chile takes an active intervention, and orders the use of drills to reach the chamber. The first exploratory boreholes moved off-target, but a later one reached the required destination.
The miners attached a note to announce their survival. They received new food, clothing and television communication with the surface, and a second bigger drill prepared a system to retrieve the miners one by one.
Dr Ted Baehr, of Movieguide® (https://www.movieguide.org), said of the movie: ‘THE 33 focuses on God and the miracle he brings about in an impossible situation.’
Rescue workers practise a dry run with one of the capsules that will be used to rescue the trapped miners. (Photo: NASA.gov)
Michael Ireland has been reporting for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China and Russia. Links: firstname.lastname@example.org / http://paper.li/Michael_ASSIST/1410485204 (a daily digest of ANS stories)
Bieber’s latest concert ‘like a church service’
Mark Ellis, Special to ASSIST, reports that recently, 21-year-old pop sensation Justin Bieber made a stunning turnaround in his relationship with Christ.
In a soul-baring interview with COMPLEX magazine, the entertainer said he was leaving behind the tabloid headlines and had made dramatic turn in his walk with Jesus.
In connection with the release of the singer’s new album, Purpose, Jason Bieber’s sold-out concert at Staples Center November 13th had a distinctly spiritual flavor, surprising many observers.
‘What the vaguely billed event at Staples Center felt most like was a church service,’ reported Mikael Wood, a reviewer for The Los Angeles Times.
Surprise on stage preaching
Friday’s show started when Justin Bieber rode his skateboard to a smaller stage near the center of the arena. He did an acoustic performance of several new (and old) songs and premiered a film highlighting each track from Purpose with distinct dance numbers for each song.
‘Between the skateboarding and the singing, though, Bieber sat on a stool next to Judah Smith, the man described as his pastor, and more or less preached,’ a surprised Wood noted in the Times.
Judah Smith is lead pastor of The City Church in Seattle, described as ‘a thriving multi-site church noted for its cultural relevance, commitment to biblical integrity and faith, and love for Jesus.’ He is also the author of Jesus Is, a new book endorsed by Bieber.
Bieber’s mom, Pattie Mallette, stumbled upon Smith’s sermons and met him for the first time at a conference. She told Smith that his tapes put her son to sleep and suggested the two meet each other. While Smith didn’t consider the snooze effect a compliment initially, his relationship with the pop sensation has developed and grown over time.
Justin Bieber with Judah Smith
At Friday’s concert, ‘He (Bieber) credited his connection with God for helping him to get back on his feet after a string of widely publicised tabloid troubles,’ Wood reported in the Times.
Love is a choice
At one point in the concert, a dozen pre-selected fans were brought on the stage with Bieber for a question-and-answer session. One young woman asked him for advice in handling a romantic breakup. ‘I’m not really good at relationship counselling,’ he joked. ‘I can’t keep a relationship going.’
Following his epic break-up with Selena Gomez, Bieber told COMPLEX magazine his heart began to soften toward God. ‘Love is a choice. Love is not a feeling. People have made it seem in movies that it’s this fairy tale. That’s not what love is,’ he noted.
‘You’re not going to want to love your girl sometimes but you’re going to choose to love her,’ he continued. ‘That’s something in life that I had to figure out. I can’t lean on people. I’ve got to lean on God. I’ve got to trust in him through all my situations. Then, hopefully, my other relationships will flourish around me.’
The album cover for Bieber’s new album features the shirtless young star, bent over in prayer, with a cross painted on his stomach.
The penitent tone of Purpose is exemplified by the song Sorry, as Justin Bieber apologises for his troublesome antics and vows to change his ways.
‘God sent an angel to help you out,’ he sings in Life is Worth Living, described by the Times as a ‘delicate and beautifully sung piano ballad.’
Bieber sings about his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: ‘He gave you direction, showed you how to read a map for the long journey ahead.’
According to Times reviewer Woods, ‘With Purpose Bieber doesn’t just alter his message; he’s transformed his sound too.’
Mark Ellis is senior correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and also the founder of www.Godreports.com), a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest in world missions.