A True Gentleman

Today Rev. Dr. Moody Yap turns 85, on the same day he celebrates his 60th wedding anniversary. Today he should be having a party but instead he has spent the last few days sitting next to Jean, his beloved wife as convalesces in a hospital bed.

Rev. Moody Yap

Rev. Moody Yap

However, as I talked to him I was amazed with his calmness and serenity. I asked him to explain the secret of his composure.

He went on to speak of his relationship with his wife in the present tense. He said “I will be with her soon so I just want to encourage her as passes on”. He reminisced of his experiences over the previous decades and gave me a sense of great hope for the future. This man has been a leader of leaders. He has planted churches among Mandarin, Taiwanese, Cantonese and English speaking groups.

He told me how at the age of 32, he left a prosperous business in Hong Kong in order to serve full time in church. He went on to study Theology and then in 1995 he was one of forty who gathered to write about evangelism for the next millennium. While there, he took issue with a three word phrase “Other faiths also” these words would have contradicted the claim of Jesus in the Gospels, he said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

He was the only Asian in the group but he stood and shared his grave concern. Less than 6 supported him but they were enough to force a secret vote. After the numbers were tallied it was clear that many more felt the same as Moody but did not dare to voice their opinion. The controversy ended as an agreement was crafted explaining that any one who seeks truth will encounter Jesus.

This man is one who is to be admired and follow as a servant of God. I’m honored to have spent a few hours getting to know him.

Loving our Neighbors

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” These opening words of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens reflect the many realities we face in the United States.

Our recent visit to Ocean Beach, CA, gave me a glimpse of some of these best of times, ages of wisdom, and epochs of belief. We were invited by Clayton and Jessica Connolly to meet some of their friends with whom they serve in this cool, relaxed beach-side community.

Clayton and Jessica introduced us to amazing Ethiopian food

Clayton and Jessica introduced us to amazing Ethiopian food

The Connollys are a family devoted to each other and their neighbors. They serve locally in their community to solve problems face-to-face and with individual people. Their home is open to anyone to come and share life with them; the small 800 square foot home is often a busy hive of activities.

More than 60 people responded to the invitation and shared stories of the amazing ways that people are encountering God in the local bars, tattoo parlors, and New Age Fairs. One such way involves inviting passersby to come in for a spiritual reading which often ends up in prayers for healing and deliverance. A prayer room has been established along local shops to meet people needs everyday.

In Ocean Beach

In Ocean Beach

It was evident that these folks have a clear attitude of humility that acknowledges that we don’t have all the answers and that it is okay to identify our own doubts and fears. One of the participants explained how the spiritual landscape is being leveled as those who follow Jesus recognize themselves as being just further down the road then those who are yet to follow.

The folks we met here are committed to identifying needs in Ocean Beach and finding ways to meet them. Those who benefit become an expression of community and also are part of fresh entrepreneurial models of business.

People are seeing their needs being met. They are gathering as communities and businesses are being established, which enables sustainability, unlike the more commonplace model of starting churches, which require member donations to operate.

Good friends learning from each other

Good friends learning from each other

A few days after our gathering, Clayton reported that Stasi, an Episcopal minister and our host for the gathering, said “You want to be a big deal for God? Go down. Not up.”

Stasi said that when these words were spoken, she decided to decline the job she’d been offered at a church. “It was my first honest-to-goodness, titled-and-paid ministry offer. It was the first rung on the ladder of clergy success…and I realized I just didn’t need it”

Stasi explained “I have rarely felt more free or excited about the ways God is using me. I simply have too much kingdom work to do to take a job at a church right now. God’s blowing apart all the boxes I thought my gifts and passions fit me in, and instead inspiring me to work that is simple & satisfying because it flows right out of me with no effort at all.

This is what it means to take a leap of faith. As I said in Sunday’s sermon, “Even if we don’t land, we shall mount up with wings.