Vision Tour 1996

July 5 - July 21

A Retrospective
by Marshall Huang

I thank God for the 1996 Vision summer tour; in many respects, it was the "perfect" tour. We were blessed with good health; we sensed the Spirit of God with us as we sang, testified and preached; there was a great amount of care and love given and received by the team members and the people we ministered to; we ate well, slept enough, and music filled the air. In some sense, it was almost too ideal a tour - true, we had some arguments, complaints, loss of temper, but there was also a lot of reconciliation, forgiveness and tears. Though our speaker, Alan Chow, Glendale Cantonese Pastor's heart was heavy with the sudden passing away and funeral of his grandfather, he was with us most of the time, delivering messages placed in his heart by the Holy Spirit sometimes with only 5 minutes preparation time. When he was gone, Fiona Cheung or I filled in and also experienced God's leading as we spoke.

Statistically, we sang 24 times in the 16 days we were gone. This includes 11 prisons, 3 homeless feedings, but does not include all the impromptu singing, such as at the U of Wash. campus, at the American border passport office, at the airport, at parks or inside the vans. We set a lot of "firsts", like ministering to deportees at the U.S. Immigration prison and to foreign seamen; singing on board and touring a huge cargo ship; "losing" a Vision member (leaving David Shih behind at the church when we went to tour the U. of Wash. campus). Because the van rentals proved more expensive and we cooked more than planned and because we did not sing in church concerts, we did not get to collect any offerings on tour so we ended tour about four thousand dollars short. Amazingly, in the last three weeks alone, through the generous gifts of many FEC church members, that defecit has been reduced to only $350, which is easily covered by surpluses from past tours. Praise God, this is another example of how He provides for our needs.

Is Vision tour worth it for all the expenses and hard work involved? Most definitely YES. When we go on tour, we get a glimpse of what Missions is like, open our eyes to the needs of the world as well as expose ourselves to different ministries and people. In our small way, we emulated what Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach goodnews to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for theblind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." This summer, there are10 current and former Vision members on longer short term ministries - to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Three also went on Glendale's Mexico short term missions trip. Many are seriously considering full time service for the Lord. Whether Vision helped them make this decision or they joined Vision because they had the heart in the first place, is almost like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. It doesn't matter because God is glorified and His kingdom is extended. To Him be all glory, honor and praise.


VISION TOUR CHRONICLES

Friday, July 5 - We all made it to Seattle with no problems - no one missed the plane, lost their tickets, or lost their luggage. The flight is pleasant. I sat next to ayoung mother of two who is the wife of a Pastor at Grace Community. He children, 2 years for the boy and 6 months for the girl, are marvelously behaved. Now that we are here, our main concern is Cindy, who has not been able to obtain permission to go to Canada from the Immigration Service. But we are going to sing at the INS in Seattle Saturday morning. We are praying God will use this opportunity for Cindy to get permission t go to Canada.

Saturday, July 6 - Last night's concert at Faith Bible Church (FBC) went wonderfully. Cindy and Jason gave very powerful testimonies of how God is dealing with them. Cindy said that she had hoped to go on a full tour with us this year, but was stopped by the INS, and she is learning to trust God and not let service for God get in the way of her loving Him. Alan Chow shared about his grandfather's passing away early yesterday morning, but that he is still on the Vision tour in spite of that death because he wanted to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

We sang twice for two different set of inmates at the Seattle Immigration detention area. There were about 20 female inmates and another 20 men who heard us from their cell area as we sang from an open rooftop area. We then moved to a second rooftop area and repeated much of the same program to another 20 men and about the same number in their rooms. Alan gave a very short but powerful message to these detainees about the better place to be which doesn't need a Green Card. We then were served lunch at the prison, consisting of chicken noodle soup, a tuna salad sandwich, one cookie and punch. Unfortunately, we could not talk to an immigration official so we left Cindy in Seattle with friends and Cindy said she might vacation in Yellowstone for a week. We drove to Vancouver, met up with Stella Tam at Jack and Lisa Young's. We found out we are suppose to sing tonight for the College and Young Adult group at Jack's church, Richmond Chinese Alliance. So after only 30 hours of tour, we are already tired, but thank God, no one is ill (yet), and it looks like we have a fuller schedule planned for us then we thought. Continue to pray for us.

A funny incident happened tonight. I was to drive 6 of the guys to a new host's home. Since it was almost 11 at night and the houses were poorly lighted, we drove up and down the street trying to locate the house, 9631, with no success as we were on the 11,000 and 10,000 block when the street ended. We tried several turns trying to locate the place, thinking maybe the street continued after a break further north, when we suddenly found a house with the right number, 9341! Two of the guys leaped off the van and approached the house when we noticed a car pulling out of the driveway. Meanwhile, I had pulled the van so that I effectively blocked the car fro leaving. In it were a Caucasian couple. Lawrence ran to the car and waved to the driver. "Do you live here?" he asked. The couple shakily nodded their heads. "Are you going out?" was his next question, which received the same answer. At this point, we realized this could not be the right house since we were looking for a Chinese couple to host the guys. So everyone piled back in the van and we drove off. That was when we realized what an impression we must have made on this poor couple! They probably thought we were the Chinese Mafia come to hijack their car and take possession of their home! But what a Mafia we must have been, since we all wore T-shirts which said "Honor the Lord" on our backs!

Sunday, July 7 - I think we sang the best so far last night. The sanctuary has terrific acoustics and we are all in fine health. The song, "I Am" was the highlight of the evening, where different members reacted and expressed their thoughts about God with each phrase of the song. Praise God for another very meaningful concert. After a short night's rest, we went to Joy Fellowship and shared with them. Again, I am sure we were more blessed by the congregation then they were by our singing. Here is a congregation of physically and mentally handicapped people with very little to look for in life, and yet they loved one another and shared their joy in meeting together unreservedly. As Pastor Chow said, they had the two major ingredients of being a Christian in their name: joy and fellowship.

Monday, July 8 - We got to sleep in late since we had no activities planned for the morning. After lunch, we drove to the Operation Mobilization (OM) Headquarters in Western Canada and spent the afternoon and evening praying and being briefed by Chris Gilman on the prison ministry to take place the next four days. Our prayer times together on this tour had all been a sweet time of seeking the Lord and worship, but this afternoon was more hard work as we learned to labor in prayer and supplication. The days ahead are activities the devil frowns on and we were paving the ground with prayer before we went in. It was good to know that we were also being supported on the home front back in L.A.

Tuesday, July 9 - Today is an early day for us, as we have to leave Richmond and our hosts here to drive to Wagner Hills Farm, a Christian rehabilitation center about an hour east of Vancouver. We arrived at 9:30 in the morning to a beautiful scenic location on a hilltop with verdant pastures and all kinds of farm animals. Here, about 15 alcoholics are treated as they do work on the farm. We sang to them and the staff, standing around them in the room. Afterwards, one man shared about how God had spoken to him through our skit Tom T., how he had hurt other people through his drinking. We ate lunch with them and then drove to Greendale, where we met up with our Canadian hosts. Some of them were the same couples as those who hosted us last year, and some were new, but when we got together that evening to leave to sing at Mt. Thurston, all talked about how gracious and well taken care of they were by these Caucasian friends. Mt. Thurston is a general population prison and about 20 to 30 prisoners listened to us and most stayed to fellowship afterwards. Since Alan left us to prepare for his grandfather's funeral, Marshall preached. One older prisoner shared how happy he was we were there, because he just been transferred to this jail from a maximum security prison in preparation for his release in a few months. He was previously an atheist, but is now very open to God and is quite close to receiving the Lord. Pray for him, his name is Greg.

Wednesday, July 10 - Alan Chow is coming back late this evening after his grandfather's funeral and picking up Anna YuTan, who had to take her midterm earlier today and is flying to Vancouver. After our group devotion this morning, we went to the Chilliwack Farmer's Market and sang for about an hour at various parts of the market, acapella and without any sound system; after all, Jesus taught at the marketplace a lot of times, and He certainly had no sound system with him. After an early dinner with out hosts, we went to Centre Creek, a juvenile detention camp. Fiona gave the main message this evening, sharing both her testimony and challenging the kids to turn to Jesus. About 30 youths showed up to hear us, and we had a short time to share with them afterwards. At least two fellows requested us to pray for them. Praise the Lord, NO ONE is sick yet, although some of us have a lot of allergies from the farming community around us.

Thursday, July 11 - We drove back into through logging roads to a medium security juvenile detention camp called Bolder Bay. It was difficult to reach, but what a beautiful spot when we got there. We sang to 40-50 inmates, all of whom are there because of some serious crime they committed. However, they treated us most kindly, and in fact were our most enthusiastic audience to date. Alan Chow got them singing Jesus Loves Me with vigor and enthusiasm and challenged them to turn their lives to Jesus. In all these prisons, we have not taken a public altar call because of the stigma it leaves with the other prisoners, but we did pray privately with and forseveral prisoners. We then returned to our Greendale hosts who took us out for various private functions. My host took us to the lake for a picnic dinner. We then all met at the Mennonite Church with all the other hosts and we sang for 40 minutes, sharing with them some of the things we do, then we ate desert together. Tomorrow, we leave to go back to Vancouver. It will be difficult to leave.

Friday, July 12 - Today was a new experience for all of us; we split up into two teams. I took the 18 year-old and younger, supplemented by a few older folks to balance the group and we drove to Logan Lake, about 3 hours north east of Chilliwack. This was a juvenile prison, but unique in that it had both male and female inmates, although the male population outnumbered the female by about 30 males to 5 females. It is located in a beautiful part of B.C., north of Hope and was called Hidden Valley Ranch. This younger group acquitted themselves well, not letting some talking boys bother their singing. For myself, I had quite an interesting experience. Since Alan Chow was traveling with the other group, I prepared a short sermon, but I was asking God what to say. When I stood up, I started on my prepared message, and just felt led to talk about the Prodigal Son instead. So I shared that story. Amazingly, they listened with rapt attention, and even those talkers stopped talking to pay attention. I challenged them to turn their hearts to the Lord, and only He knows what lasting work was done there.

Meanwhile, the other group, consisting of most of the older folks and Alan and Nathan drove to sing at New Haven, a halfway house to prepare inmates for returning to society. This is our third time singing there and in the past, we have always felt it hard to sing there. This year, with only half the group there and led by David Shih, we also found it hard to sing there. But in sharing afterwards, we talked to one prisoner who said he found the Lord from our singing there last year, and has been learning to live for Christ since, so that was really an encouragement. In the evening, this group drove to sing at Alloutte River Prison. Here, we found a great surprise; the inmates had taken a collection and donated enough to buy a feast of pizza and KFC fried chicken for us. We found out they donated a minimum of $5 each (one day's wage) to feed us. They were also the most enthusiastic audience we sang for. Even Alan said we sang the best we ever sang on tour so far, and there were only 13 singers led by David. We praise God for such a wonderful experience.

Saturday, July 13 - We slept in late and then assembled for devotion time at Jack Young's home. This afternoon, about 10 of us are joining their high schoolers in washing cars at the corner shopping center. Seven are on a prayer walk around Richmond to prepare the territory for further evangelism and stopping the Buddhist growth, while the rest are resting and watching the video, "The Sound of Music". This evening, we are going to the pier, and inviting sailors to hear us at the Seamen's Club in Surrey, B.C. and tomorrow, we are going to sing and witness a baptism on the beach and then join and sing to our hosts from the Richmond Chinese Alliance Church.

Sunday, July 14 - Jesus often preached by the seashore, and today, we worshipped on the seashore at English Bay. Chris Gilman and his wife pastor a very small church reaching out to the disenfranchised and he baptized one of the inmates from Ford Mountain Correctional Centre, his jail. The man was allowed to leave the prison for the expressed purpose of getting baptized. Chris had asked Marshall to assist him, but the water proved too cold for Marshall, so the honor went to Ted Liu to assist Chris. We sang on the beach, witnessed by about 6 members of the congregation and about 20 curiosity seekers. After the service, we drove to Queen Elizabeth Park and had lunch and sang in the park for anyone interested in listening. We then joined the Richmond Chinese Alliance Church hosts as they honored their Sunday School teachers and AWANA leaders. I think we were able to bless them with our music and testimonies about how Sunday School helped us to grow.

Monday, July 15 - We had nothing really scheduled for today except to do a mini-de-briefing and celebrate Lynda and Nathan's first wedding anniversary. Jack Young joined us and reminded us that we must learn to say "Hello" (connect) before we can say "Good Bye" (disengage) and visa versa. We then performed a skit just for the anniversary couple. Then to our pleasant surprise, we found out that a huge cargo ship from Communist China had landed that day in the harbor and that the Captain welcomed us to go on board the ship to sing to the sailors on board. We went on board, sang for about 40 minutes and those who could speak Mandarin or Shanghainese spoke to the sailors who were there (another Vision "first", singing on a boat). The boat, only 6 years old, had a crew of only 31 and we met about a dozen of them. This was an extra the Lord provided us, the first Vision tour of an ocean vessel. Tomorrow we leave toreturn to Seattle. Thank God no one is really sick yet, although Connie is not feeling 100%. So we have completed the more hectic part of our tour, having sang 18 times in 10 days.

Tuesday, July 16 - We drove down from Canada without any incident, although our van was stopped at the border and we had to go show our passports and green cards to the immigration officer. We also took this stop to sing to the officials. We picnicked on the sandwiches we brought with us and got to the Keiro Retirement Home. Ruth Liu and her mom also drove down with us and joined us and Aunty Mei translated the entire program into Japanese. Ruth Liu's mom than presented flowers to the oldest resident there, a man who is 107. After cooking and eating dinner, we then went to downtown Seattle where we joined Kay Abe, a widow living on a pension, who has been using her meager funds to feed the homeless in Seattle for many years. In a square downtown, we fed about 200 homeless and talked to them. One man accepted Christ and we had the opportunity to share with at least a dozen people.

Wednesday, July 17 - Starting yesterday and for the next 4 days, we need to cook both lunch and dinner for ourselves (unless something comes up). We are fortunate to be able to use Faith Bible Church as our "home" and cook there. We volunteered to cook spaghetti tonight for the homeless so we bought and cooked 24 lbs of pasta, almost 20 lbs of ground beef and sausage which we ate ourselves and brought the rest to the square. Again we sang and served dinner and talked to the people. Because we were back, the homeless seemed more open to us and we had the chance to pray for at least 20 people. In fact, we found that many were not homeless or jobless but they had difficulty making ends meet so they came for the free dinner. But they seemed most appreciative of our showing up and thanked us; in fact, one man gave us a gift of a small mirror in a metal frame.

Thursday, July 18 - Alan Chow left us today to return to LA. We spent the afternoon in worship and shared together in small group. I think the time was well spent, for it seemed to have brought us more together. We ate a snack and those over 18 years of age went to Monroe Prison while Nathan and those 18 and under stayed to cook the rest of dinner for us. We arrived at Monroe Prison at 5:30 PM and by the time we got through processing, it was 6:30 PM. We then went through a very tough metal detector that detected even the metal buttons on our jeans and finally got to the chapel at 7 PM. Father Rubye gave us a warm welcome and the prisoners, about 60 of them even gave us a standing ovation. We had a wonderful time sharing and singing, it was like Allouette River in Canada again. We finally left the prison at 9 PM and arrived back at the church close to 10 PM to eat our dinner (we had thought we would be back at 8:30) so we turned in tired but happy.

Friday, July 19 - Today is the last major singing day for us on tour. We met at FBC and had devotions and started our debriefing with encouraging Cathy, who would leave us tomorrow for her mother's birthday. After lunch, we went and visited the Univ. of Washington campus (accidentally leaving David Shih back at the FBC alone-another Vision first, stranding a member), singing at Red Square and touring the campus. After a nearly dinner, we went to the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Seattle. We sang to a packed audience of about 150 men and perhaps only 1 woman. We were the chapel service from 7:15 to 8:15 and a replacement for another group which had canceled. The audience was also very enthusiastic We met a couple of people we had met at Kay Abe's feeding from a couple of nights earlier, including a young man who had accepted Christ on Tuesday. Nathan Wang and Sherry Tsai gave their testimonies, both dealing with the death of close friends/ family members and Fiona gave a moving call. When the Chaplain gave the invitation, 5 men raised their hands to accept Christ, and two actually came forward to publicly acknowledge their decisions. When the men started to leave for supper, we continued to sing to an enthusiastic audience who would not let us quit. Afterwards, some helped serve dinner while the rest of us were offered a tour of their facility, which consisted of 7 floors. The basement is their gym, the second floor, a nursing care facility with 30 beds which require Doctor's or hospital referral; a third floor with 58 beds; and then two floors for their Spanish and English discipleship ministry and they are remodeling the top floor for a Bible school. Over 200 people work there and another 400 volunteer to staff the facility. An indication that we had a wonderful time was that we were given a tour and welcomed back anytime we were back in Seattle. This was a wonderful way to end to our tour and we thank you all back in LA for your prayers. Accept for one day when John Ngai was a little under the weather, we all went through tour in good health.

We debriefed on Saturday, had a bar-b-que with our hosts in Seattle and sang to them. On Sunday, we worshipped at FBC and sang a couple of anthems. Several of our hosts went to see us off at the airport, and we sang at the terminal. This may have been the most enthusiastic singing group in Vision, for they sang anywhere and everywhere. In all, we sang 25 times formally (not including impromptu singing at Parks and airports etc.) in 16 days. We thank God for a wonderful tour and all His blessings.


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