Monthly Archives: April 2012

It Takes a Community

(This is a guest blog post from Dayna Avery, who moved to China with her family on March 12.)*

One of my top priorities after we moved to Shenyang was finding the right preschool for Molly and Hudson, so they could make friends and learn Chinese. The problem was I didn’t know where any preschools were located, and even if I did, I couldn’t communicate with anyone there. Thankfully, we are surrounded by people who could help.

First step: Phone a friend with young children and ask for advice. Spend several hours walking to three different preschools and talking with principals. Second step: Talk with my husband, my mother-in-law (a preschool director in Houston), the leader of our organization here, and pray for guidance. Third step: Ask a Chinese friend to return with me to our favorite preschool and work out the details, including negotiating how many English lessons I could teach in exchange for free tuition. Fourth step: Arrange for a driver with a van and another Chinese friend to help us take Molly and Hudson to a health clinic for a required medical check. Fifth step: Return to the preschool with yet another Chinese friend to deliver the results and finalize our starting date. Sixth step: Reach out to everyone we know to ask for prayer as Molly and Hudson adjust to spending two days a week in a school where no one speaks English. If you’re keeping track, that’s a whole lot of people involved in our children’s preschool registration!

Never has the concept of “community” meant more to us than in the preparation of our move to China and in our daily life here. We would not survive without it. The prayers, financial support and physical help from countless friends and family members paved the way for us to pack up our house and move here in the first place. Our team members and friends in China have helped us learn our way around, buy food, furnish our apartment and establish a routine. The faithful prayer support and encouragement we receive through emails, phone calls and care packages literally restore us and keep us accountable. It’s a helpless feeling when you realize you can’t buy stamps from the post office by yourself, much less explain to your son’s teacher that he’s allergic to milk. It’s humbling. And it’s a powerful way to experience God’s grace and provision every day. Thank you for being part of our community.

* Kevin and Dayna Avery are establishing a center for disabled children in Shenyang, China. Dayna is our youngest daughter. You can follow them at www.servepraylove.blogspot.com.

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Baptism Stories

While digging through a treasure trove of memories, I came across my original baptismal certificate. I did not know it still existed. It is slightly stained and marred, but very legible. According to the date of my baptism, I must be way older than I imagine. The pastor’s signature verifies that I was baptized at the Riverside Methodist Church in Miami, Florida, in the presence of the congregation, on March 21, 1948. I was “a wee little man” in those days.

My mother had been raised Methodist and my father Baptist, so when they married, as my father used to say, they compromised and became Methodists. Our family became very active church members and my Methodist pastor led me to know Jesus as my personal savior when I was nine years old. A few years later they compromised again and we became Baptists. At 12 I was the reluctant hold-out. Why couldn’t we find another Methodist church? Why did I need to be baptized again? Dr. John Wheeler, pastor of the neighborhood Baptist church and later a professor at the European Baptist Seminary in Switzerland, kindly taught me the difference between infant baptism and believer’s baptism. It made sense to me.

Also, I found in the treasures a little card where I had written in green ink an acrostic outlining the distinctives in the word Baptist:

B – Born again
A – Authority of the Scriptures
P – Priesthood of the Believers
T – Teach and Train
I – Immersion
S – Security of the Believer
T – Tither

I probably heard that in a sermon and jotted it down. Our whole family was baptized together on a chilly October night. Do you remember your baptism? What was going on in your life? Were you re-baptized? How are things going in your soul today?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Tell your story. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Old Stories, New Hope

This past Friday our collective memories of old stories were stirred and shaken. Passover reminded us of blood on the doorposts, the angel of death and the hasty escape of the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt. Good Friday reminded us of the horrific and brutal crucifixion and death of Jesus, our Prince of Peace. The local news that day reminded us of the Tulsa race riots of 1921. Over the course of a few hours, five African-Americans were targeted and shot. Three died. Racial fear and uncertainty began to grip our city. Suddenly Tulsa was in the national spotlight.

The two suspects were arrested on Easter. That helped ease the tension. Their apparent confessions helped more. Their motive for doing this, on the other hand, is a speculative business. Words like hate crime, revenge and mentally unbalanced seem to be mixed together. Pastors, community leaders, city officials, and Tulsa Police worked together the whole weekend to protect our citizens. They sought unity in the face of divisive fear and anger. While not there yet, we seem to be learning new lessons from our old collective stories. Trust and faith are stronger than fear and anger. We do not have to repeat the horrors of the past. We can change ourselves and our communities.

We live in divided and divisive times. There is something that all of us can do to change the tone—stop the name calling. We can stop the dehumanizing of people by simply eliminating the shameful, hurtful and mean words that come out of our mouths. Try it at home on your family. Try it when you talk politics or religion. Try it when you are talking about others. Test yourself today. How many times today are you tempted to call someone a _____?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Bless others. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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The Easter Walk

After all of the excitement of the early morning, Jesus went for a walk. He encountered Mary Magdalene and the other Mary running from the Garden Tomb to tell the disciples they had seen an angel. Suddenly they ran into Jesus and He said, “Hello.” According to one account they fell to the ground, grabbed His ankles and worshipped Him. He told them not to be afraid, and sent them on to the disciples with the same message as the angel—“Go to Galilee and meet Him there.” The disciples did not believe this story. Peter and John found the tomb empty; still, they did not pack their things and head for Galilee.

Two followers of Jesus were present with the other disciples when the women told of seeing angels and meeting Jesus on the road. One of the followers was named Cleopas. His mother, Mary, had been at the foot of the cross when Jesus died. In his own grief and discouragement, Cleopas and his friend headed home to Emmaus. At some point on their slow journey that first Easter afternoon, Jesus walked with them. “What are you talking about?” “Have you not heard,” they said with eyes fogged by tears, “about Jesus of Nazareth? He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed. We had so hoped he was the One.” Thus the conversation began. Walking and talking about expectations, disappointments and God’s word. Then there was the whole matter of Peter and John reporting that the tomb was empty, but they did not see Jesus. It was getting dark and they were now in the village. “Would you join us for supper?” At the table Jesus assumed the role of the host, took the bread, broke it and gave thanks. Then they knew Jesus was truly alive. They did not wait for another day to tell the others the truth.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Walk with Jesus, it’s Easter! And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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