Monday, February 21, 2005

One of my better days

Last week I reread the ending of Rick Joyner's book "The Final Quest". In a vision, Rick Joyner saw a man named Angelo, now in heaven, had been one of the greatest people on Earth. Although Angelo was a homeless, abused mute, he loved with all his heart. He barely kept himself alive while he helped other homeless people. He was never famous or successful, but God was impressed. However God was not impressed by all the Christians including Rick Joyner, who ignored or despised Angelo. God said that Angelo had many things to teach the church, but we lost our chance. While reading this, it occurred to me that I have someone like Angelo in my life.

Every Sunday, for the past 12 years, I have taught an adult English Bible Study class at Suan Lien Presbyterian Church in Taipei, Taiwan. It is a large (1550+ people), wealthy, long established church (founded over 90 years ago), with many important and influential members. I am not one of them, but its nice to have old friends in high places.

Most of my students are people with good English skills: doctors, judges, business people, wives of church leaders. But one student, Michael, is not a "winner". He is very strange, almost childish. I guess he is 50 years old. His family including wife and children, runs a small flower shop near the church and they treat him very poorly. As a baby he was dedicated to a Chinese goddess named Matsu. Matsu was elevated as the Queen of Heaven during the Ching Dynasty. All Michael's family worship Matsu, except Michael who became a baptized Christian last year.

He first came to my class a decade ago, then disappeared for a few years. Then he came back a couple of years ago. He makes most of us uncomfortable and we try to ignore him. His English isn't very good, and his mind isn't very clear, so he draws (his art isn't any good either) poster sized pictures of me, and copies my whiteboard notations onto the pictures. Then he comes up after class and asks me and others to sign his pictures and write things on them. Things like "American Airlines", "Romance is the Spice of Life" or some random Bible verse. Plus he asks lots of vocabulary questions after class. Often my heart goes out to "irregular" people, but being with Michael is like letting a bee land on my nose.

He tries to be friendly, although I often don't understand what he's talking about. He brings me flowers from his store. He often invites me to his flower shop, his house, even his old family home in the countryside. He usually asks me to pray for him and his family. Indeed, I think he has received more blessings than anyone in Taiwan. But my wife and I usually make it clear we don't have a lot of time for him. We are BUSY people.

Yesterday my family decided to visit Michael's flower shop after church. He was very happy to take us there. However his wife was not happy to see us, so she left her own store and went shopping. Nevertheless Michael was full of grace. He gave my 9 year old daughter some flowers and candy. My wife, Sandy, a Taiwanese, explained some things to him about the Bible. Then she told me he wanted to know the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. That is not easy to explain to someone like Michael. I told him, "The Old Testament told the Jews how to be close to God and the New Testament tells everyone how to be close to God." Then we prayed for Michael and his family and left before he gave away everything in his store.

I guess it was a good day because I obeyed God and had fellowship with the "least" of all God's children. But considering that he suffers daily for his faith and gives more love than he receives, his reward may be greater than mine. It's always nice to have old friends in high places.