Friday, September 4, 2009

Life giving

This is my first post since setting up this blog in May. Much has happened over these past couple of weeks... and yes, much would have been worth posting. Yet, it has been to me a time of resting, reflecting and preparing for what is still to come - not a time of sharing, blogging and pouring out my soul. It has been a very fruitful time; transforming and molding. I believe you will experience a lot of what he has done in me during that time in what I will share in these coming months...

Tonight my soul just began to overflow and I feel the need to begin sharing thoughts and experiences of what He is doing in Hong Kong and in my life.

Heading back home from youth group our train stopped at Kowloon Tong station. The doors didn't open for a while. From the speakers we could hear messages in Chinese and as soon as doors opened people started leaving the station. A chinese lady than told us that the train will not leave; someone 'fell' in front of the train. As we headed to the bus, we saw people who had witnessed the event crying next to the train tracks.

Hong Kong is the city with the second highest suicide rate in the world -- second only to Tokyo.

What does it take for a person to see no hope in his or her life? Over the years I have spent in Hong Kong I have gotten many 'answers' to this question. I have had many youth and university students tell me why they feel life is not worth living anymore. The most common response is the immense pressure of performance. Living up to the expactations of parents, society, school, and even the church. As students fail exams, fail to get good jobs, and fail to live 'holy lives', they lose their self-worth. Disappointments in relationships often add a good part -- whether it's their own or simply watching the broken relationships of their parents that create disillusionment; it's heart breaking to see how Hong Kong students are lost in finding identity -- and how hope in life is lost when all the false identies are shattered.

I just got a link from a friend to an article in a Hong Kong newspaper. It talks about a survey conducted among Hong Kong students: "Of nearly 600 youngsters aged 12 to 20 questioned in the wealthy city of seven million, 34 percent said they would consider offering compensated dating, a euphemism for prostitution, as a full-time job. Sixty percent of those who said they would consider compensated dating said they would do it mainly to earn quick cash, while 23 percent said they would do it for their own sexual gratification."

...we live in a city full of false identities... and we live in a world full of false identities -- and they do not contain life, but rather destroy it.

Hulitt Gloer has been a professor of mine at seminary - probably the most formative professor in my seminary time. In one of my preaching classes he said: "every word you say can be life giving, or destroy life; and once a word is spoken, you can not take it back. Your words are powerful, so chose them wisely". Since than I have often thougth about his words. They have been life giving to me. They have shed new light on many passages of scripture. In John 1 it says that "in Him was life, and that life was the light of men" or that he came to bring abundance of life or that He is the way, the truth and the life... It's the simple truth that He is life - life giving.

But if He is life, and He lives in us, how can so many people lose hope in life? I think there are many reasons why our light doesn't shine anymore or why we lose our saltiness -- or why the fullness of that life is not burning brightly in us...

but I believe there is a remedy that will cure much of this hopelessness: GRACE. True grace that speaks life into people and lifts them up and frees them from the bondage of false identities... and relationships that live a life filled with grace and model His love... and how do we live this out, if we have not embraced our identity in Him, through His grace, imitating Him who laid down His life for us?

"For to me, to live -- to truly live -- is Christ"

Pray for us that we may bring true GRACE to this generation of students.
That we bring hope in lives of despair.
and that we always rely on Him to be the well of life in our lives.

as we pray that today you are aware of His grace.
That you experience His hope in your despair.
and that you will always rely on Him as the well of life in your life.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mongolia Outreach

A couple of weeks ago I joined the Gobi Mission Mongolia for the second time. For more than a decade Don and Charlene Woods have regularly been leading mission teams into the Gobi desert to share the love of Christ.

On my own "Journey of Becoming" they are adding story after story that shapes me as a disciple. I don't know of any other person in my life that serves those who can't help themselves with more love, passion and humility as the Woods. Consistantly they seek for ways to bring relief to handicapped children, families that live in extreme poverty and to support Christian workers that built up the church in the Gobi desert. They don't just talk about the love of Christ, they live it.

On our last trip we visited families with disabled children in the Ulaanbaatar ger district to discern relief efforts, supported orphanages, helped churches in the East Gobi and taught at the Frontier Mission School. Join us in prayer for setting up a handicapped children's camp in the Northern Gobi in the coming year! If you are interested to know more about the work in the Gobi, visit:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Imitate me

"The Great Omission" by Dallas Willard ends with the following paragraph:

"All that is needed from us to change things - whether in the church or in the world - is sustained apprenticeship of individuals to Jesus, the Savior of the world so loved by God. Our directions "as we go" are clear: to be disciples - apprentices - of Jesus in Kingdom living and by our life and words as his apprentices to witness, to bring others to know and long for the life that is in us through confidence in him. It's all true. It works. It is accessible to anyone. And there is nothing in the world to compare. That's all."

How serious do we take the call to disipleship; to becoming an apprentice of Jesus? When I became a Christian in the year 2000 it truly was a radical shift in my life. I was fully aware that I was going against everything my culture and environment was telling me... but soon the depth of what being an apprentice of Jesus meant to me faded. I remaind an apprentice of this world more than an apprentice of Christ.

In sharing the life of Christ-disipleship with uni students here in Hong Kong I am consistantly reminded of this experience. Yesterday I had dinner with a student from the Mainland who became a believer just two months ago. As we shared life his deep desire for whole life transformation was obvious, but at the same time the challanges are starting. His parents and friends challange his new-found faith...reminding him that it is more important to study hard, get a good job and have a lot of money. It's ok to "have a religion" - just don't make it a part of your life that actually challanges what is "REALLY important".

...but I think it is not only the "world out there" that challanges true discipleship. It is also the way we - the believers - offer interpretations of disipleship. Looking back at my own experience this is a common picture of disicpleship I have been offered: go to church on Sunday, maybe a small group during the week, read the Bible and pray on your own...

Here is the punchline... If you were asked how to be a Christian disciple, would you be comfortable to say: "Imitate me!"?

One thing these new believers are lacking are examples of true disipleship that show them first hand what life in Christ is all about. Are you a mentor to a younger believer? When he or she imitates you, will he imitate the life of God who became flesh?

Turning Points

On our life journey we make countless choices. Most of them are (or at least seem) not very imoprtant -- others are pretty significant. I think the choices we make are decicive in the journey of who we are becoming. They determine what we will spend out time with, the people we surround ourselves with and they show the priorities we set in our lives.

I made one of these choices that feels very significant this past January. Walking through the Forbidden city in Beijing Matt shared much about his heart for Chinese university students, his ministry philosophy, his values... and I thought "that's what my heart beats for; that touches the core of who I want to become". I can only imagine the impact this decision will have on who I am becoming. There is no doubt that God will transform and shape me more into the person he wants me to be through this choice. It will have a significant impact on what I will spend my time with, the people who will surround me for the coming years and how I will set my priorities.

I am so grateful to God that he cares about me so much that he actually wants me to change who I am and that he is full of grace when I fall short of who I am supposed to be. May we all have the courage to become who we are intended to be!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A New Context

As our team is preparing for a new part of our journey I am using my time to read A LOT. I haven't read that much since I left seminary in the US and I enjoy it thoroughly. Do you know the feeling when you discover one of these "nuggets of wisdom"?

Carl Raschke is one of the writers I love reading. Consistantly I feel like he puts into words what I can only feel in my gut without knowing how to articulate it. In his book "Globochrist" he talks about how "the historical Roman and Germanic epistemologies that inform so much of Western theology just will not work in Asia". Out of my own experience I simply have to say "Yes!". I do acknowledge that some connections can be made -- we do live in the time of Globablization... but Western epistemolgies will fall short of penetrating the core of Asian culture - we need to contextualize much deeper than we often feel comfortable.

A few weeks ago a friend said to me "I believe you really know whether your church has an impact for Christ when your church would disappear and people who are not inside this particular church community would really miss it". Does our church have an impact on society? the community? individuals outside our protected community? It made me ask what it really means to contextualize our faith; and to live a missional life myself...

Pray for our team... to be ready to be formed by His Spirit; to leave our wisdom behind; to learn the context we are in; and seek His guidance in how to make Him known...

Postcard from Hong Kong -- Part 1

Dear friend,
over the past couple of years I have travelled and lived in various countries and whether you are in Hong Kong or not, you have become a fellow traveller with me. Our journeys have crossed and have become connected for eternity... so this part of my blog is meant to give you a glimpse into my life in Hong Kong.
When I look out of my living room window this is what I see. It reminds me of my home in Germany -- mountains and trees in a city of 7.5 million people! -- not what you may have expected, right?!
by grace alone, Maik

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

75 Days

75 days till August 3. My anticipation of that day is sometimes overwhelming. At times it's just mundane situations as traveling on the MTR or buying a local snack at a street store when it gets me: "Just a couple more weeks till the team gets here!"... and I wonder which of the team members will like the HK food; and who won't... who will freak out being on the MTR feeling like a sardine; and who will love being surrounded by all these people.

I recently read a collection of essays by Leonard Sweet called "The Church of the Perfect Strom". In one of the essays it says "it's not just about the journey or the destination; it's about those with whom you travel". If there is one thing I would have to mention about what counts for university students of this generation, it's relationships. Genuine and authentic relationships that break through the barriers of culture, doctrine and systems. I am simply excited about the people "with whom I will travel"; people that are leaving everything behind to serve the One who longs to be in relationship with us all; people that get ready to move to this part of the world to transform this generation of university students through the love of Christ. And that's what the journey is all about,'s about us becoming him.