October 9th, 2015

Do You Sometimes Feel Like a Googoot?*

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Which kind of Legacy Will Be Y/ours?
*Googoots = Slang. Literally, in italian, a big squash. Used as slang it means “a useless person.” In other words, all that person is good for is to sit there like a big squash and get bigger. “Jank” is another new slang word meaning the same thing: fruitless & useless.
In the great chapter on the heroes of the faith, the writer of Hebrews wraps up the long list by telling about two different kinds of earthly legacies: those who conquered, and saw the rewards of their faith, and, not unlike current Christians from Syria or Egypt or Oregon, those heroes who sadly went to their graves after suffering and hardship, not knowing the impact of their witness and service. 
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about …. the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. 
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Hebrews 11:32-40
It was the late summer of 1999.
Our family was in the final months of our two years’ language and culture study in Mainland China. We did this before our move to Singapore for long-term missionary service. During those two years our home was in Kunming, the capital city of the Yunnan Province of Southwestern China.
You may not know of Kunming…or the Yunnan Province for that matter. The size of China’s population is hard to wrap your mind around. When we lived there, the population of this Province was more people than the entire country of Australia. The size of our city Kunming was over 3 million people (by comparison, the city of Los Angeles was larger, at 3.7 million people).
Before we finished our time in China, we wanted to take a trip to the village of the sweet older teenager who had been the babysitter for our boys while we had been in language school.
Shiao Yan was a Christian young woman from the Yi Minority Group. She had come to the big city from a Christian family in a remote village.
Getting there was an adventure. A large bus from the capital took us a few hours away to a smaller town Luquan. The next morning, we got into a smaller touring size bus and rode for hours with more than a dozen people and a few chickens. The roads went from bumpy but still paved, to only dirt. Somewhere along those roads we changed to a smaller vehicle; a crowded minivan.
Thirty-five hours into the trip, the minivan stopped, and we got out of it. There was nothing but nature as far as we could see.
We walked a dirt trail 40 minutes to Shiao Yan’s family village of less than a dozen wooden homes. She told us that every one of the people in her village were Christians, with the exception of her father, who was the village representative for the Communist Party.
Her family members were all delightful and hospitable. From our broken Mandarin to their native Yi, Shiao Yan shyly translated for us, “She has been such blessing these two years that we’ve lived here in China.”
They didn’t have many visitors coming through this remote place.
They wanted to make sure we were comfortable. No visitor comes out this far unless it’s for the census or tax-collector. This long weekend, they killed a chicken and fried a few varieties of vegetables like corn, and sweet potatoes…and sweet potato leaves. Normally all they ate were potatoes with chili paste.
In the late afternoon, Shiao Yan produced a can of RAID that she’d purchased back in the city. She sprayed our wooden bed palate before covering it over with some scratchy woolen blankets. Then she went down underneath the room to spray the ceiling…of the animal pen. She explained why: She didn’t want us to be bitten by the fleas.
I won’t use words to describe the outhouse. There are no words for that!
The women’s colorful Yi costumes stood out against the plain earthen floors, and natural surroundings. The men wore white shirts and black pants synched up with a belt because the waistline was too big. The older men wore raggedy blue “Mao suits,” simple pants and shirts. Until only a decade ago when China began to reform and open up to the outside world, this is what everyone wore during the Communist revolution in the late 40’s.
On our second night there we went to another nearby village. It took more than an hour to walk the trail across the hills. It was the only way to get there. In this village, there were many more homes. There was a well for drawing clean water. And most memorable to us, there was a church.
After a tour of the town and another meal, the mayor rang a bell outside the wooden structure as the sun disappeared over the mountains. The mayor, we discovered was also the town pastor. It was a call to worship. It didn’t take very long before the place was packed, dimly lit inside by only two light bulbs hanging from cords in the ceiling.
Their energetic worship lifted the rafters. The singing went on for longer than we are used to, but none of us, even our two year old, got tired of it. We were asked to speak. Jim and I each shared a short greeting; a blessing and our thanksgiving for being able to meet them. “Even though our cultures and nationalities make us so foreign to one another, we are family because of Christ.” 
They were all clearly joyful and hopeful; even though they were all desperately poor subsistence farmers.
As the service wrapped up, I thought I had experienced one of the most moving experiences of my life as a follower of Jesus. However, what followed the worship service, was even more profound.
Sixteen years later, it’s still surreal.
We gathered in a common room of the pastor/mayor’s home (just like the one in the photo here), jostling for how to fit everyone in on small wooden stools. We had some gifts to give them. They had some simple gifts, and some words for us. This is what we understood the pastor told us as he kneeled before us earnestly trying to be understood:
We have wanted to meet a white person for a long, long time. We are so thankful to you. Once 8 years ago, when our school was finally finished, we heard that a white person was going to come to help us dedicate the school. The children prepared dances and songs for weeks. On the day of the dedication, they lined the road and stood for hours, waiting. But the white guest of honor never came. Now, here you are! Without any notice at all, you showed up and surprised us! We are so grateful to you!
Jim and I looked at each other, stunned. We’d done nothing but come to this place out of curiosity. We were the ones who were thankful that Shiao Yan for being willing to take us to where she was from. This honor from the pastor felt awkward and stunned us.
You see, before the revolution, we had [the name he said we didn’t know] come here to tell us about the love of Jesus, and his Father in Heaven. We all had lived in poverty and fear of evil spirits, but [whoever he was] introduced us to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, through Jesus. Now we had Savior who gave us hope and joy! We are all so thankful to [him, whoever he was].
He was killed and is buried nearby in [this place and time we couldn’t understand either], and we all honor his sacrifice for us to come to know God.
You are the first white people to come to us since then. You are the first white people we are able to thank for sending [this mystery Saint].
He finished by saying, 
Thank you for being missionaries in this generation. Thank you for being people who are willing to come all the way out here to bring us the Good News!
Friends, I ask you to look again at Hebrews 11:38-39
“…the world was not worthy of them…. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,”
Had this [missionary] come to them some time before the Civil War of the 1920′s, or the Japanse invasion of the 1930′s, or the late 40′s during the Communist Revolution? Had he ever known the spiritual fruit that would come from his difficult and life ending labor? Had he, before his death, seen the beginnings of his legacy in these hill tribes? Or had he gone to his grave feeling like he had not accomplished for the Lord what he had originally left his homeland hoping he would do?
Later that night back in Shiao Yan’s village I heard singing. I walked out away from the dimly lit wooden house to listen. Across the completely dark valley I could faintly hear a group of people singing old hymns that I had known as a child growing up in a Baptist Church. I’d long ago forgotten words, but the tunes were familiar. There in the remote mountain ranges of this communist country, the hearts of an entire people group had been won for Christ, and I had been undeservedly thanked for it.
*Wikipedia’s page on OMF (China Inland Mission) reports that by 1939, 200,000 Chinese and Minority people had been baptised by CIM workers.
Our Season in China seems a lifetime ago.
My boys are grown. They probably don’t remember that trip, let alone, that night in the pastor’s home.
Even our service in Singapore which wrapped up nicely last year, seems longer than that. We are back this year looking to Jesus for what is next because we’ve passed our ministry of mentoring on to a group of Singaporean pastors. They are now continuing the ministry that we’d gone to start.
What we did in Singapore (and China those first two years) for the sake of the Gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ was dedicated, and intentional, creative, faithful…and quite honestly…I sometimes feel like it was pretty unremarkable.
In January this year, I was reading the Hebrews heros passage above. I decided I liked verse 35 the best:
Women received back their dead,
“Now,” I whispered to the Lord in confidence that anything is possible, “THAT is something I’d like to see happen on this sabbatical!”
Though I believe this could happen, the reality for me is, compared to that [unknown missionary] who we’d been proxy to receive thanks for so many years ago, I sometimes feel like a “googoots.”
Coming back to the USA, I also am tempted to compare my accomplishments to other Americans in Christian Ministries.
There seems no end of celebrities in American culture who are pastoring mega-churches, or writing best-selling books, making major motion pictures, appearing on talk shows, or invited to speak for congress, or retreats, or chapel in Christian universities where they are awarded some Outstanding Alumni award…
Nope. I’m gonna stop this comparing right now!
Let’s read some more from that Hebrews passage as it flows from the end of chapter eleven into chapter twelve:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I may be in a season of transition, waiting on the Lord for his marching orders of where he wants us for the next lap in a life of serving Him.
You might be in a season of transition, or what feels like fruitlessness or failure.
But let’s not lose heart.
Let us remain steadfast in listening for the voice of our Good Shepherd to continue to lead us to the legacy he has destined for us.
In this brief life on earth, let us keep following and serving, and refuse to compare.
Just stay faithful.
In the end, you will get recognition from who matters!
Remember the parable Jesus told in Matthew 25? When we begin eternal life–a life of joy and fulfillment–the first words we’ll hear Jesus say to us face to face is,
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
That mystery Missionary to China has been enjoying that joy for 65+ years now. He has only begun his forever and ever joy in the presence of the Lord. I’ll bet he doesn’t have any regrets looking back at the faithful tough life he spent with the Yi people in those mountains of China.
So how do we keep from losing heart? 
Whether we are saints of old, the modern martyrs, or the average Christ follower who sometimes just feels googoots:
For the joy set before us, let’s stop comparing. Let’s leave our “legacy” up to Jesus, and simply keep our eyes on him and follow as he leads!
30th Anniversary!
With so much gratitude,
Jim & Kimberly Creasman
On sabbatical in San Pedro, CA. 
Well, actually Jim is in Thailand and Vietnam. He left last Sunday and will be gone until the end of the month.
Lord, thank you for Jim’s opportunity to be with missionaries to Vietnam, and some of his mentors who are meeting to share vision, ideas, and strategies. We expect you to illuminate our way to the future by the people he meets, the time he’ll have alone, and as he meets with the mentoring groups in Saigon that he’s not seen for a year now. Thank you for the joy it is to dig in where you’ve planted us this year. Thank you for the opportunities to serve here. Thank you for the chance to be with family in transition too. Thank you for your presence, your faithfulness, your peace!


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