Wednesday, July 9, 1997|
As we get ready to go on Vision tour, I am excited anticipating what God has in store for us. Already, we have seen His miraculous hand move to prepare the way for several of the Vision members to be able to go on tour this year. As it got closer to summer, as many as four of the members had job related problems keeping them from going. At this point, we have seen God open the door for three of them to go. Let me share with you their stories.
Leonard is with Vision for his fourth year. He graduated a year ago and has been working for about 9 months when he found out he only has a week's vacation coming. After prayer, he talked to his boss who not only graciously gave him an extra week off with no pay to go on tour, but also a few extra days to attend the "Rock the Nation" prayer conference.
Joyce had graduated in March and had unsuccessfully looked for a job since then. She was committed to go on Vision tour and had told her interviewers of her need to take two weeks off in July. Perhaps because of her candor, her job search had been unsuccessful until suddenly in late June, she was offered two jobs. She accepted one of them, and her boss arranged it so she not only could go on tour, but maximized her benefits so she would not lose any future vacation accrual. Truly, our God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).
Remy had just finished his first semester at USC after transferring there from JC in the Spring. He needed to find a job to pay for his expenses in the Fall. He found one and had told his boss that he needed the two weeks off to go on Vision tour. But after he started, his boss reneged on his previous agreement and wanted Remy to work through the summer. Remy prayed about his dilemma, and finally told God that he had committed and would go on tour even at the risk of losing his job. He lost his job and for the next two weeks found nothing to replace his lost job. Then God miraculously answered by providing Remy with a scholarship from his old JC earmarked for "JC alumnae only" and that provided him with just about the same amount of money he would have made from his lost summer job! Isn't our God awesome?
John is our unfinished story. He had promised his dad that he would go on Vision tour only if he found a permanent job after graduating from UCI this summer. But through the spring and early summer, John could not find a suitable permanent job. He has sent out many resumes to different organizations and has even gone to different offices to apply in person. During the last Vision concert before tour (at CBC Walnut), John gave his testimony about his struggles. After the concert, a man, Bill walked up and introduced himself. He said that he liked John's attitude and personality and he then told John to call him and check out the possibilities with him. July 10, the day before Vision goes on tour, was set for John to have a job interview and lunch with Bill and the chaplain of the hospital where Bill works as a Doctor. Will John be offered a job on the spot so he can go on tour with us or does God have other plans for John? All we pray for is that John remains in the center of God's will, and learns that God is faithful, tour or no tour.
Saturday, July 12, 1997
We have just completed the second day of our tour. We arrived safely yesterday in Seattle, and ran into our first complication. Although we had reserved two 15 passenger vans several months ago, when we got to the rental car counter, they only had one van available. After a panicked search, and over an hour's wait, they finally located a second van for us. The upside was a savings discount of 15%, which basically paid for the extra cost to pay for allowing Leonard, an underage driver, to drive the vans. Due to a mix up, our concert at Union Rescue Mission was canceled, but we were able to join the College Fellowship at Faith Bible Church, and had a great time interacting with about 30 of their students. By the way, John was not able to find a job and so he did not go on tour with us, but we are sure God has a greater lesson for him in this disappointment.
On Saturday, after an hour and half of worship and devotions, we went to Alki Beach for a picnic lunch. After lunch, we just sang to praise God. Several people stopped by, including an elderly woman in a wheelchair. She then arranged for us to sing at her Home for the Physically Challenged on Tuesday morning! God had provided us a divine appointment, and only God knows what surprises are in store for us due to this "chance" meeting. In the evening, we sang for a combined churches' college meeting held at the Japanese Presbyterian Church. Although the audience was only about 50, we sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit from the beginning of worship time to Pastor Alan's closing message and we had a chance to do "ministry prayer" for several individuals after the service, an unusual occurrence in this church. We also prayed for their Mexico Missions team. So even though our tour got off to a slow start, we see the hand of God guiding us and we are all very excited about what is happening. Keep your prayers flowing upwards, so that we can receive His power and strength downwards.
Sunday, July 13, 1997
Sunday, this may be our busiest day of tour. We woke up early to get to the Seattle Chinese Baptist Church to sing for their 9:30 AM English service. Like many of our services in FEC, it ran late and we just had time to catch our breath before it was time for their 11:00 Cantonese service. After singing at that service, we had to rush to Faith Bible Church, our host church, to sing during their fellowship hour at 12:30. We barely had time to grab a 99 cent Whopper, then we were off to sing to the detainees at the U.S. Immigration Service, where they held those to be deported for various reasons. We actually sang twice, at each of the prison's exercise yards, to an unknown number of audience - unknown because they were behind locked windows in their cells and we were in the yard outside their windows. They could hear us, but we could barely see them. After this, we went to have a BBQ/pot luck dinner with our hosts. Speaking of hosts, there are tremendous lessons in hospitality which we can learn from these folks. Meiring and I and three girls are staying at the home of a young couple who have been married four years. Though complete strangers, they just opened their home to us, stocked the pantry and refrigerator, gave us the keys, and left for a planned camping trip. They will not be back until the evening of the day we leave. What a lesson in trust! How many of us would be willing to do such a thing?
Monday, July 14, 1997
Wow, tour is starting to get really exciting. We started this morning finding out that Tishia and Remy had stomach problems, Nancy and Leah had sore throats, while Becky Pang and Pastor Alan had kind of lost their voices. Our devotion elaborated on the theme of servant leadership and looked at the example of Jesus washing His disciples' feet. We prayed for those who were sick and after lunch, left them to go to sing at Pike's Market. We actually sang at both Westlake Center and at Pike's Market, attracting maybe twenty people or so. Many expressed their thanks to God for our singing (obviously Christians). On the way back, we "lost" Pastor Alan and Joyce. We were to meet at the golden pig at 3:15 PM. It turns out they were a few feet away looking at the pig, while the rest of us were on the other side of the street looking at the pig and never saw each other. After waiting for 15 minutes, we finally had the over-18 year olds leave to return to Faith Bible Church and meet up with the sick ones while the rest continued to hunt down Pastor Alan and Joyce. The thought was we could get ready early to go to Monroe Prison, which only allowed those over 18 to go in and sing. We were to leave at 4:30 PM to make Monroe Prison by 5:45, our appointed time, but by 5:15, Pastor Alan and Joyce were still absent. After much prayer for their safety, we sadly left for Monroe, leaving the below 18's to cook dinner for us. To our surprise, before we completely checked in to prison, Pastor Alan and Joyce showed up, and we were able to perform a wonderful concert at Monroe Prison with only 4 sopranos and a single alto, Becky Cheung, since the rest were below 18. George's testimony was stirring, and Alan's message was powerful, as he shared how he felt the devil had used delay and confusion tactics to keep him from coming to preach at the prison today. Though he ran out of time to give an invitation, we felt that the Spirit was really doing His work at that prison. When we returned for dinner at 9:30, we found out that the younger folks had really taken today's devotion to heart, as they sat all of us who went to Monroe with a sit-down dinner, while they served us all the food first. It was a wonderful time of just appreciating each other and showing love for one another. Not only that, it seems all the sick people were much better and well on the road to recovery. We felt God had won the victory today!
Tuesday, July 15, 1997
We met today and found out that most of the ill people were better or fully recovered except for Pastor Alan. At 11 AM, we went to the Home for the Physically Challenged, located just a few minutes from Faith Bible Church. This is the "divine appointment" set up from our chance meeting at the beach on Saturday. We actually had a great time singing at the lobby, then in the lunch room of this complex, which included not only those who were disabled, but also had lunch participants from the Home for the Blind and Deaf next door. Connie actually signed "God Is So Good" as we sang it, and that was greatly appreciated by the deaf. We not only had a chance to sing, but to talk to many of the folks. We repeated the experience in the afternoon at the Keiro Nursing Home, only a few hundred feet from the church. We then helped cook for the homeless and sang and fed them that evening with Kay Abe, the septuagenarian whom we met two years ago. Kay uses her meager pension funds to cook and feed these homeless 4 days a week. The best part was the chance to pray for many individuals among the homeless and to share with them. I had the privilege with Leonard, Becky Cheung, Sophia, and Hamilton to share with a man named Sam, who said he was born again but has turned away from following Christ for many years. He said he has not heard God's voice since he got angry at God, but tonight, he heard God telling him "I love you" through our voices, and he prayed to turn his life over again to Christ. After some more sharing and prayer led by Leonard, Sam, for the first time in some two years, was able to smile and sing Amazing Grace. Please pray that Sam's repentance was genuine and that his life will be transformed by his prayer this evening. May he be truly a lost sheep who has been found.
Wednesday, July 16, 1997
We left Seattle very early Wednesday morning so we could stop at Everett and tour the Boeing plant where they manufacture the wide-body jets. Meanwhile, Sophia returned to LA because of her immigration status so we are now down to 25, but only 5 sopranos. We then arrived at Richmond where we met up with Jack Young, our gracious host and tour arranger in Vancouver. After a quick dinner, we drove back to White Rock where Jack had arranged a concert at the town centre for some of his patients, friends, and the community in general. We shared the concert with a former patient of Jack's, Gerry Price, who had written some wonderful text to some popular tunes (like Frank Sinatra's "My Way" and changed it to "God's Way"). We finally returned back to Richmond close to midnight.
Thursday, July 17, 1997
We got a chance to sleep in this morning, what a glorious luxury! We met for lunch at the Lane's home, where we do our cooking and group meeting since Jack and Lisa have moved in with Jack's mother, and we could no longer use Jack's house as our main meeting place. After devotions, we then drove out to Allouette Prison, where we met up with Chris Boisvert-Gilman, our prison contact for the last three years. Chris went over the prison rules with us, and then we left our four youngest (those who would not be 18 this year) with Chris to be our prayer warriors while the rest of us went to Allouette. From 6:30 to 8:00, we participated with the prisoners in basketball, volleyball, pool and ping- pong in the gym. We then sang to about 30 prisoners for an hour, who listened with great intensity to us and Pastor Alan, but before we could finish, the prisoners had to leave for head count. But we thank God we could plant the seeds and water some young plants, although we could not reap the harvest this evening. In fact, one of the guards was deeply touched by our singing and told us that it was a dark place here, thank you for bringing light to this place. However, it seems for the last three concerts, that we could not get to the invitation part of the meeting, as though someone was playing games with us. As we left, we prayed for God to bind the work of Satan if he was behind all this, and claimed the victory.
Friday, July 18, 1997
Breakthrough! Today, the half way point of our tour was the day we were to go to New Haven. You remember I mentioned this particular prison as a place where we always felt oppression in the past and asked for your prayers for God to breakthrough whatever forces of Satan was binding this place. We arrived a little late, having turned the wrong way at the very entrance to this prison but we got there early enough to do a full concert. Although only about 20 prisoners showed up, two of them raised their hands to accept Christ during Alan's invitation. After the meeting, the kids all shared with whoever was willing to talk to us. A Cantonese boy prayed to accept Christ after Queenie and Joyce shared the 4 Laws with him. Sherry shared with a Vietnamese boy who also prayed to accept Christ. TJ and Helyn shared with yet another young man who appeared to have been a Christian before and wanted to come back to Christ. Yet another young man told Jason of his hatred for the church and how he was in prison for burning down some church buildings, but prayed for God to forgive him for doing this. So a total of 6 prayed to accept or come back to Christ today at New Haven. Praise God! It was a real breakthrough at a place of former oppression. Hallelujah! In the evening, we sang at Hans Hou's church, Chinese Baptist of Vancouver, where Hans is Missions Pastor. The sanctuary was well packed, clearly the biggest crowd we sang for this year outside FEC, maybe 150 or so, mostly young people. We felt God's blessing on us as we sang and testified and challenged the listeners to be real disciples. Alan said 4 young people raised their hand to rededicate themselves during the invitation. We had a great time of interaction with them after the meeting and I noticed several people praying for each other. I will find out what happened tomorrow and report this later. But what a wonderful day of witnessing God working. Thank you for your prayers for us. We are having a terrific time and we are all more or less in good health and in wonderful spirits.
Saturday, July 19, 1997
One more item from last night. After we sang, their English Pastor closed the meeting and told the congregation that a couple of offering bags would be left by the exit for whoever wanted to help us with our ministry expenses. To their surprise and ours, over $300 was collected from the audience of mostly teenagers. Our God is rich indeed! On Saturday, we were treated to lunch at the Seamen's Lighthouse Centre in North Vancouver and viewed a video tape of their ministry. We then divided up into two teams. I went with one team to Lynnterm, where we toured a cargo ship staffed with crewmen from India. We sang to our tour guide, Mike, but did not get a chance to interact with anyone else. We then went over to the ship next to it, staffed mostly by a Filipino crew. We got to sing to three or four of the crew members. The other team visited a ship staffed with mainland Chinese sailors. Most of the people on this team at least knew some inkling of Mandarin, so they were able to share and even pray for some of the sailors, even though all the cigarette smoke made them uncomfortable. What is really sad is that the mainland Chinese have made materialism their god. In the evening we sang at Pacific Grace Church, Alan's former church where he used to Pastor. They had actually expanded to the South site two years ago and it was a building Vision sang in early on a Sunday morning during the '83 tour. The acoustics there was wonderful and we sang "in the round", surrounding the audience for several songs. I think six people rededicated themselves after Alan spoke.
Sunday, July 20, 1997
We sang at Joy Fellowship, a meeting of physically and mentally handicapped people, but again, what an expression of joy and faith! As their leader said afterwards, when we surrounded them to sing several songs, "it was like the angels were singing" and we indeed did feel lifted up to the heavenlies when we sang. There was such a sense of peace and God's presence with us as we sang, that we may have been the most blessed. We had lunch at one of the hosts' home, and spent the afternoon relaxing in their swimming pool or catching up our sleep. That evening, we sang at Richmond Chinese Alliance, Jack Young's home church and our host church in Vancouver. Again, we just sensed God's nearness as we worshipped and performed; Pastor Alan challenged us all to rededicate ourselves for the Lord's service. One of the surprises was seeing Remy and Leah's Uncle and Aunt who attended all our evening concerts as well as Joy Fellowship. This family is ostensibly Catholic, and had been sporadically attending church, but the uncle asked Pastor Alan for some special prayers for his brother, and they volunteered to provide dinner for us when we return to Vancouver Thursday night. Continue to pray for them. Tomorrow, we leave for Chilliwack and phase three of our tour. We look forward to whatever surprises God has in store for us.
Monday, July 21, 1997
One other item about yesterday, Jack Young and Vision pulled a surprise 15th anniversary for Meiring and me (since we have been in Vision for the 15th year). They practiced hard the night before a skit summarizing some of the high and low lights of the 15 years we have been with Vision, even calling John Lo late Saturday night to research material for the skit. Thanks, Vision, for the memories. We left Richmond at 7:30 in the morning with Jack Young, Nick, an intern at his church, and two of their young people to head out to Bolder Bay Correctional Centre, a juvenile prison. We arrived about 10 and sang to about 20 young people. After singing, we ate lunch there and played ball and talked to the inmates until 2 PM. Even though we thought we were listless and unorganized, their chaplain profusely thanked us for the time we spent, saying they have only had three groups as large as ours there in all the history of the prison, and it was Vision '95, '96, and '97, and how this was such a life changing experience for so many of the kids. When we drove back to our new hosts in Chilliwack, we found out three of the inmates had accepted Christ after our sharing one-on-one with them. Praise God! That night, we sang at Mount Thurston C.C., to about 30 adult prisoners. Unlike the morning, from the very first note to the last, we felt the presence of God with us. When Alan gave the altar call, he lost count, but thinks something like 10 people responded with first time or recommitment of their lives to Jesus. We had a wonderful time of sharing and praying for individuals afterwards and It was hard to get people to leave to return to our hosts. Thanks for your continuing prayers, as Dr. Tan had prayed, God is indeed giving us a harvest exceedingly beyond our expectations, and certainly more have made decisions this tour than all the past tours combined!
Tuesday, July 22, 1997
This morning, we have two work crews out cleaning-up and painting two trailer homes of ex-inmates who are part of the M2 (man-to-man) rehabilitation program of which Chris Boisvert-Gilman is a part. The third work crew is busy cooking and preparing lunch and dinner at one of the host's house in Greendale. Physical work is a Vision tradition dating back to the first Vision tour where we help repair a church damaged by the Coalinga earthquake of 1982, and is also another aspect of ministry. After lunch, we had a chance to catch up on our devotions and share. We are all extremely grateful and feel very humbled that God would choose to work through us. Just as we got ready to leave at 4 PM for Stave Lake C.C., Jonathan fell and twisted his foot. He collapsed in great pain. Worried that he may have broken his foot, we called the Pastor of the church and he graciously took Jonathan and Meiring to the Emergency Room of the hospital while the rest of us hurried off. We quickly prayed for him as we left, and it turned out all he had was a pinched nerve and a bruise, with the X-rays revealing no breaks. Thank God, but he and Meiring were prevented from going to Stave Lake. At Stave, we played softball with the inmates, who are protective custody prisoners. This means they have committed crimes which would put them in danger of being harmed by the general population prisoners such as being an ex-law officer, sexual offenders, or mentally unstable. This proved to be a valuable time of breaking down barriers, and over 30 prisoners showed up to listen to us. It turns out there is already a very strong Christian fellowship group in this prison, and we had a wonderful time singing and talking to the prisoners. Alan said two convicts raised their hand in response to the call, but we had a chance to pray with many more after the service. We also performed our "Lost Son" skit, and many prisoners commented that they were that person, so we thank God for our being able to communicate well with the prisoners.
Wednesday, July 23, 1997
Wednesday is the last singing day of our tour. Tomorrow we drive back to Richmond for de-briefing and Friday, we drive back to Seattle to catch our plane to Burbank. We all went to the Chilliwack Farmer's Market in the morning to sing in the open air. We would sing three or four songs at different locations in this market, singing to attract some attention and then spending some time to talk to whoever stopped to hear us. Many are already Christians, and they commented on "how wonderful it was to see so many young people who love Jesus." We then returned to our home base to eat lunch and do our devotions. We drove over to Center Creek Youth Correctional Centre for our final concert of tour. There were about 15 youths present and even though no one responded to Alan's invitation, yet we had a good time sharing one-on-one (or more frequently two-on-one since outnumbered them) after the concert for almost half an hour. At least three of the youths had been at Bolder Bay the year before and recognized us and even remembered our skits from last year. We had a chance to pray for several youths to recommit themselves to following Christ. We then returned to our hosts' homes for a late dinner. The one group who did not have a special host were all invited to the Mennonite Church's Pastor's home for dinner where we sang for the Pastor and his family. In the midst of our gathering, the Pastor's wife received a phone call from the mother of one of the youths from their church, a lady who has never been at their church, but called asking for prayer and healing for herself. What a coincidence that she should call just as we were there, but we recognize that our God is sovereign, and "all things work together for good to those who love Him", so we prayer for this lady, Diane, and asked the Pastor to let us know the next chapter of this story.
Thurday, July 24, 1997
We drove back to Richmond to do de-briefing. We arrived around 10 AM and debriefed by talking about what we individually learned on tour and how we hope to bring that back home with us. We then prayed for each person after he/she talked. This process took us to almost 7 PM, with some tears and a lot of praising God for His marvelous deeds and graciousness. The most common theme in the debriefing was the power of prayer. Jack Young and Remy's Uncle and their families then joined us for dinner and Jack talked about who it was we sang to at White Rock (some of his patients) and how their reactions may have been unexpected to us. We spent another hour Friday morning talking about tour and left for Seattle. Because of the bad traffic, we just made it in time to check in for our flight so we had no time to sing at the airport. But on the flight home, the stewardess asked who we were and announced over the plane's intercom that we were going to sing for the whole airplane. We sang "Majesty and Glory" and she was holding back tears. It was a great way to end the tour.
We have decided to name this tour "The Lost and Found Tour" for three reasons: