The Lord Is Working in Asia
(pre July 1995)
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal." (John 4:35-36)
"Then sayeth [Jesus] unto his disciples,
The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore
the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest."
After St. Paul and his faithful companion, Barnabas, had completed their first missionary journey, they spent time in Antioch giving a report to the Church. Later on Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go again and visit our brethren . . . and see how they do." (Acts 15:36) Five years ago Dr. Robert B. Dallenbach and I paid a visit to Dr. and Mrs. Dan Barreyro and their co-workers in the Philippines. Day after day we traveled on a small boat with outriggers, visiting some of the remote island with the Good News of Salvation. On the way we had spent a few days in the bustling city of Hong Kong, where we met a missionary and Christian broadcaster into China, and his family, and took a three-day trip to Mainland China.
Recently I was thinking along the lines of St. Paul's comment, and asked Rev. Joseph Gross, long-time administrator of our work in Pacifica, California, if he would go with me to the Philippines and beyond. After discussion and prayer he decided to do so, and after due preparation we boarded a United 747 jet to Tokyo, and another on to Manilla.
We arrived Saturday evening, and were met at the airport by our medical doctor and missionary, Dr. Dan Barreyro, his wife, and others, and after a refreshing night of rest were eager to be in "the house of the Lord" on the Lord's Day. A congregation of young people and adults began the service with songs of praise and worship, and then I was privileged to give a message from God's Word. Later in the day we went to another location for a second service, again with an attentive group of children and adults ready to hear more of the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.
After doing some visitation and tending to mission business on Monday and Tuesday we were ready to board a small plane for the two-hour flight to Busuanga Island. Then we traveled by a sort of open van or bus over gravel roads for an hour, and took the small mission boat across the China Sea to the Island of Culion.
This island is where the Americans founded a leper colony early this century, accommodating at its height some eight or nine thousand people suffering from leprosy. New methods of treatment have fortunately reduced the number who have leprosy, and now there are perhaps only about three hundred.
During our stay on Culion we visited the Konkel Village, named after the late Bishop Wilbur Konkel, who first encouraged Dr. Barreyro in his desire to minister to the aborigines children and adults, known as Tagbanuas, some years ago. Since that time many of the children in the area have had opportunity to learn to read and write, something they had previously known nothing about, and also to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Many of the adults have had much-needed medical care, for Dr. Barreyro is not only a doctor of medicine, but also well trained in public health, with a master's degree in that field from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
On Sunday we were happy to be in the mission chapel for worship and praise. Rev. Joseph Gross gave a fine message during which he alluded to the experience Abraham Lincoln had in the White House at the time of the death of his son. Previously President Lincoln had been much interested in the things of God and the Bible, but said he had no personal testimony to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Now, in his sorrow and loss, he came to that all important saving faith. Since this was the birthday of President Lincoln, the message seemed particularly timely and relevant.
During our visit to Culion we were privileged to meet with teachers, mission workers, and members of the mission board. A good part of our time together was spent in considering the fundamental Bible doctrines relating to holiness of heart and life, the death and resurrection of Christ, and the like. A lovely solo selection was provided by a woman who is a member of our local mission board of trustees who is trained as an engineer and a teacher.
Also on Culion, at some distance from the central town, is located the Orland Wolfram Memorial School. We took a small bus or van to this site, and met with the teacher and the pupils who are now privileged to have educational and spiritual opportunity. A small delegation of parents waited on us to request that another school be opened in their village, some distance away. They are able to provide a suitable building, but are too poor to afford the forty dollars a month for a teacher's compensation. Pray that the Lord will have His way in this matter.
On the way back to Manilla we spent a night at Coron, where we enjoyed the hospitality of the Lim family. Some of their daughters live and work in the United States, and others there in the area. Mrs. Lim was very much interested in the truth of God's Word, and loved to have either Brother Joseph Gross or me play hymns on their lovely piano.
Hong Kong is only a few hours away by jet plane, but on the edge of that teeming land of China, the home of more than a billion people. There are many missionaries and Christian workers there in Hong Kong who are doing a work among the local population, some 98 per cent of whom are of Chinese extraction, it is stated. There are also missionaries eager to share their faith with those on the Mainland, where there is still considerable persecution of Christians for their faith.
We had fellowship at the evening meal and then overnight with a wonderful missionary family whom we will not identify. Repeatedly they have gone to the Mainland to encourage Christians and to introduce others to the Saviour. When on a brief furlough to the United States, some time ago, their great desire was to return as soon as possible to the work the Lord had called them to in China. Also visiting them was a missionary family on its way back to Papua New Guinea. I had previously read with interest their articles in a missionary publication. They had evidently been doing deputation work in the United States for a time.
Do you have any idea of what a billion people means? We signed up for a two-day trip into China, but a visa problem prevented us from taking advantage of the second day. Arriving by train in the city of Canton, however, (Guangzou is the current Chinese name of the city) we got some slight idea of the teeming population of that country. As we arrived in the railroad station from the south, there must have been a number of other trains that had arrived from the north, filled with people. It was the Chinese New Year period, vacation time for many. Literally thousands of people surged through the limited space of that station toward the outside of the building. What a sight! What a crush! And all of these are people for whom Christ died. Where will they spend eternity?
We had only one meal in China, but it was an outstanding one. The guide took our group to a restaurant where we were put at a round table with a sort of "lazy Susan" in the center. Soon the attendant or waitress brought in delicious soup, followed by bowls of rice, vegetables, and all sorts of other dishes, beautifully prepared and attractive to the eye as well as the palate. The Chinese, a guide had informed us, use a large proportion of their limited income for food, and like to have it prepared fresh from ingredients purchased that day at the market.
All along our railroad journey we saw tidy fields, meticulously tended. Although there were a few beggars at the railroad station, for the most part the people seemed reasonably well fed. No particular famine or hunger was in evidence, but we are reminded of the situation in ancient Israel at the time of the prophet Amos. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11) In much of China there is now such a famine, and in many other countries, and even on the part of many in the United States! How tragic!
On Sunday morning we crossed the street from the YMCA where we were staying to the Chinese Lutheran Church for the morning service. An evangelist gave the message, interpreted into either Cantonese or Mandarin, as the case may have been. The pastor, just back from three years of study in the United States, interpreted into English by means of earphones. Although we of course did not know the Chinese words of the hymns that were sung during the service, many of the tunes were familiar ones used in churches all over the United States.
Now the time had come for us to return to the United States. Due to crossing the international date line we had "lost" a day on our outbound trip. We "gained back that day" on our return, leaving Hong Kong at 2:35 p.m. on Monday, and arriving back in San Francisco after a flight of perhaps twelve hours at about 11 a.m. Monday, San Francisco time!
Will you remember in your prayers the missionaries
and workers we have mentioned, that the Lord will abundantly bless and
prosper their efforts for the building up of Christ's kingdom, and, as
Christ encouraged His disciples, "pray the Lord of the harvest that
he will send forth laborers into his harvest," both in Asia, and throughout