As my second week comes to a close, it seems as though I have more like a month’s worth of information to share. Truly, I feel like I am melting, in every sense of the word. First of all, up until today, it has been very hot and humid. I don’t think I have ever sweat so much in my life. Second, I feel like I am melting in a ‘ahhhhh, I’m mellltttttiiiiing,’ like the wicked witch of the west dying kind of way. There are just so many things being thrown at me, and God is bringing up so many things I need to learn, at times it does feel like it is all too much. But I also feel like my heart is melting into a puddle of smooth creamy butter, as I fall deeper in love with God, with His word, with Hong Kong, and the people around me.
Last weekend was great. On Saturday, I went to the beach with one of my roommates and got to enjoy the warm water and being outdoors. Later that night, all four of us roomies went out for some bonding time. We ended up buying four new base goldfish to replace one that had recently died, and then we went out for dessert. My fish is named Sherbert, and of course I am very excited about having a ‘pet’ here. Things are just going to get more and more busy, so it was nice to get to know one another better before there is no time for anything except studying!
On Sunday I started the day by going to Shatin Anglican church with two of my roommates. This church is also where a friend of mine who I met last year in HK goes. He has been so amazingly helpful as I settle in here. I really enjoyed the whole service. The message definitely challenged and convicted me on some deeply important Biblical truths, and I greatly admire the genuine sense of community and love within the very diverse group of people who attend this church.
After church, I was introduced to a group of people who are all around my age and also go to Shatin. We all went out to lunch together and it was so much fun. Everyone was so friendly, warm, and welcoming. I honestly just felt so grateful to be there, because by Sunday I was really needing to feel that kind of love and support. After lunch we moseyed on over to a little local massage parlor, and while three people got all the kinks worked out of their legs, we all sat around with some famous, delicious Bubble tea, and had some really great conversations. Then we went to an afternoon service at another church, the Vine. Their time of worship through music is so good. And by this point I really did just want to burst out in song, singing of how great God is. I may have gotten lost for three hours on the way back to the base… but even that was enjoyable because someone so kindly helped me out, and I really liked seeing more of the area and having a chat with them! I know now that every week I am going to be looking very forward to Sundays, when I can have a day of resting, simply enjoying Hong Kong, and spending time with my new friends!
The book that we studied this week was Philemon, and we also read all of Genesis and Exodus aloud, but we started the week out with a lecture on how we got the Bible. One thing that really stood out to me was the amount of sacrifices other people have made so that we have the Bible accurately available in some many languages to us today. Most days the only thing standing in the way of me reading my Bible is my own busy schedule or just laziness. And yet there have been, and still are, people who risk death every time they go to read God’s word. It was such an inspiring lesson to hear before we begin our own journey of pursuing the truth.
Philemon is a great book to start our inductive Bible study with because it may be short and under appreciated, but it also has a lot within it to uncover! We are still learning the process itself, so I won’t go into what inductively studying the Bible means just yet, but I will share a little bit with you what the book of Philemon is about. I have read through the whole New Testament before, and yet when we were told that Philemon would be the first book we study, I legitimately could not remember anything about it. Our school leader, and lecturer for this week, calls it the little fine art masterpiece. He says it is like that small painting you see in a gallery that you are very likely to just walk past because your eyes are drawn to the bigger painting near by. Only when you really stop and get up close do you realize how much stuff is going on within that tiny space!
The book itself is a letter from the Apostle Paul to a man named Philemon. Philemon was an obviously influential and wealthy man living in Colossae during 1st century AD. He is described as having a church in his home, which means he was probably a pastor or some sort of leader within the Colossians church. Paul is appealing to Philemon for the sake of another man named Onesimus, a man who Paul calls his child and his own heart. Things become more complicated when Paul finally gets to the point of his letter in verse 16, when he asks Philemon to receive Onesimus “no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, a beloved brother… both in the flesh and in the Lord.” Onesimus was Philemon’s runaway slave, who fled to Rome, found Paul, gave his life to Christ, and then went back to his master seeking freedom and forgiveness. His master, who happens to also be a respected church leader that Paul probably also led to Christ. It is a letter that shows how redemption in Christ is possible for anyone, in any kind of situation. Once master and slave, Philemon and Onesimus become brothers in Christ. It is crazy to me just how much information we were able to find and how much we were able to learn just from the Bible text itself. I have a feeling I am going to learn to be far less reliant on Wikipedia after this season…
Right now prayers for good health and protection against any distractions, for myself and the whole BCC team, would be super appreciated! Every week the Tuen Mun base has group intercession, and right now we are praying for the Refugee Crisis, so if you would like to join us in praying for all the Syrian refugees that would be great too! Personally, right now I am working on developing deep friendships with people who are entirely different to myself, fitting into this community and loving those around me well, and staying focused on God. Your prayers really do make a difference and I am so grateful for them!
Glory to God for this amazing opportunity! May He bless each one of you on each of your own journeys too. Thank you so much for reading, for praying, and for supporting me during this next season.
“When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith towards the Lord Jesus. I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother” – Philemon 1:4-7