And in the lowest of valleys, there is growth.
Over a year ago when I was studying in Ecuador, I took a class about spiritual formation, where basically we learned how to develop our spiritual lives and strengthen our connection with Holy Spirit. It’s been awhile since I’ve had that course, but there are many things that I took away from it that I still learn from today. One of those things we talked about was in that first week of class; the professor noted that whether we find ourselves rising above the tallest of mountain peaks, or seemingly walking the lowest of plateaus without end, there is growth.
Philippians 1:6 reads,
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”
I am confident that even though I don’t always feel challenged here in Taipei, that even if my relationship with Christ may often feel a bit stale, and that even if I am very comfortable, almost too comfortable, that Christ is growing me. Because if I were to reflect on these past few months and all that I have been involved with, if I were to truly seek out what the Lord is trying to teach me through it all, I know that He is here, and that He has been speaking to me. I was drawn to this internship for several reasons, but one reason in particular was that I wanted to be challenged by a spiritual atmosphere and culture that I am not completely used to; I wanted experience in an environment where I knew I would find myself in both highs and lows; I wanted to be in a place that would challenge me in pursuing growth, even when it seems as though I’m all grown out.
At this beginning of this month, a team from a church in Hong Kong came to participate in what God has been doing here in Taipei. I thoroughly enjoyed my time getting to know them and also working alongside them for the Kingdom. On one of the nights that they were here, we did a “feed-the-homeless” type outreach at Longshan Temple; I wasn’t scheduled to go with them, but something in me made me feel as though I should go. Upon arrival and after prayer, we split into smaller groups of three to go and hand out food and pray for people; I was privileged with the opportunity to go out with Onshun and Tiffany, two of the team members whose prayers and radical faith strongly encouraged me to grow deeper in my faith in God. As we went out to pray for individuals, they were very intentional about knowing their names, hearing what they had to say, praying for them, and even hugging them! I know what you’re thinking, “how does something as simple as giving a hug to a homeless individual encourage you?” Well, coming from my background of missions in Latin American cultures where you pretty much hug and kiss everyone (even strangers) to here in Taiwan where this level of physical contact is only reserved for the closest of people, I can only imagine everyone whom we prayed for feeling taken aback by something as simple as a hug, because I know I was! I am confident in that these prayers and hugs were nothing short of a representation of the warm embrace that Father gives to us. I’ve gone on a couple of outreaches with the Aroma before, but this one in particular left an impression on me, one that challenges me to radically seek out Jesus, to grow deeper in my faith, and ultimately live fearlessly for the Kingdom, a fearlessness that compels me to hug.