Tatsuya Shindo was a gangster in Japan. More precisely he was a Yakuza.
He converted to Christianity in one of his prison stints and is now a pastor/preacher in a converted bar. You can read more about him here.
What really inspired me, and should encourage every church planter, was his commitment to preaching. After he became a Christian in prison, he felt called to be a pastor and to preach the gospel. According to his testimony at the TTGU Chapel, he preached for 6 months only to a dog. That was his only audience, but he persevered because he believed that God called him to preach the Gospel.
How many of us have displayed and will display that kind of commitment and perseverence?
Now he has been blessed by the Lord. His church is full and he has been used by God for a revival in some of Japan’s toughest jails.
Praise the Lord and let’s keep our brother Tatsuya Shindo and Japan in our prayers. Maybe revival in Japan will start from the prison!?
I am still in Seoul. And it is cold (-5C). But thank God for my warm office (thanks to my portable heater) and so much more!
While I am still preaching through Isaiah 9:6 (I should preach on Sunday on “Prince of Peace”) I find it easier to borrow from someone else than to write my own Christmas thoughts (I may have more to say on Saturday evening, but that is kind of late :)).
Great points and hard to argue with the man!
Here are some of my favorite lines:
“I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays…Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone…Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place…Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.”
Today there are 5 weeks after my operation. My ACL was reconstructed, my meniscus was repaired, and another ligament was reconstructed (PLRI?). They found out that this other ligament was (partially?) torn when they introduced the arthroscope (with a small camera) before the operation. For my ACL they used some of my hamstring for the replacement, while for the PLRI (?) they used an allograft (ligament from a dead guy L). That means I am now partially Korean! J
The first week was in a way the hardest, but it wasn’t terrible because I was sedated fairly well! J
I would say that the hardest thing during this whole process was the lack of sleep during the night. While this was no doubt due to the fact that I was sleeping during the day a few hours (what else can you do when you are in bed all day?), even when I skipped the daily naps (after 3-4 weeks) I had a hard time sleeping through the night. It was not because of pain. I was never in major pain, but it was uncomfortable to sleep with the knee brace and I just could not sleep well.
There were nights when I slept less than 3 hours (though I would sleep a few hours in the morning) and I am still having a hard time getting a decent night sleep, despite the fact that I sometimes take sleep medicine (doesn’t seem to have much effect). It is not prescription medicine.
At the five week point, my knee is still a bit swollen (and also my ankle), but I can bend my knee to about 120 degrees.
Next week I am supposed to get rid of the crutches. Praise the Lord.
I feel that I could walk without them now (?), but I will take it easy and follow the doctor’s advice.
For the past two weeks I have been preaching sitting on a chair for the first service (http://www.hcc.or.kr/worship1_2.asp; I am the nameless guy :)), and standing (on one leg) for the second (this is not recorded)! So far so good! I did not think the first time that I can stand in one leg for the whole sermon! Miracles are possible! 🙂
Over all – the recovery process is long and painful (the strengthening exercises are a bit painful for a person with terrible flexibility like me)! I hope and pray, however, that things will get better soon.
I can’t wait to walk without crutches and I hope and pray with many that the meniscus is healing well and the reconstructions are successful.
The surgery (with the roughly $1600 for the allograft) cost me about $5000. This is after the help/support from the national insurance. I just found out that my private insurance just paid about $3000, and they may pay a bit more after I give them the receipt from the allograft (that was only partially paid). In any case – so far I am happy that I may end up with less than $2000 from my own pocket. Praise the Lord!
Please pray for me so I can play in Brazil 2014!!! J
Well – really – play that I can be back to normal by 2012!
Thank you and many blessings to all!
One thing I remember about missions with Americans in Romania is the breakfast. The Americans liked Romanian breakfast, but after a while they had enough. It was too repetitive – almost every day we had branza (cheese = usually feta), pita (bread) si rosii (and tomatoes). [That does not mean that Romanians do not have other options for breakfast, but usually that is what we had during the summer]. This has a slight parallel to the food here in this Korean hospital. I do not know how hospital food is in other countries, but here it is very predictable.
[All I remember about the food in Romanian hospitals comes from my mother. She was always bringing me the best possible food, and that was not easy during communism when stores were mostly empty. I was drinking peach juice (nectar) etc. From all I remember, there was no food provided by the hospital. You had to bring your own!?]
There are three meals a day here and all of them have rice and kimchi. It does not matter if it is morning or evening, rice (mostly white) and kimchi are always on my plate. They always have a soup (and this is usually different every day), and two other small side dishes. There is a lot of variety for the side dishes!
Most of the food is quite spicy and real flavor (except the spiciness) is not to be found in this hospital Korean cuisine. Thank God for the food my wife brings me etc.
One thing is for certain – I am looking forward to go back home to some outstanding home cooking! But then again, like my mother, my wife is no regular cook! J
After a couple of days I was moved in the same room with 4 young guys (19 to 24 years old). They were all fairly athletic, which makes sense because this is a sports hospital. One physical therapist bragged that Park Chu-Young was here last month. Some of the doctors here have photos around the hospital with various famous Korean athletes (Park Ji-Sung etc.). At least one of them seems to be (or to have been) associated with the Korean soccer team.
What surprised me very much in this room was the almost complete lack of communication between patients. I can understand the lack of communication with me because of the language barrier (and perhaps also because of the age difference). But I was surprised to see that almost nobody was communicating in this hospital room.
This lack of communication became most evident when we watched Korea-Australia in Asian Cup 2011. While at that time almost everyone in the room watched the game and people cheered when Korea scored (it ended 1-1), again – there was almost a complete lack of communication.
This is a bit shocking to me, because in a Romanian hospital (I have never been in an American hospital) the patients would probably play chess, backgammon etc…And if there was an important football game, you can bet that they would argue about the line-up, the refs, the coach (in Romania every soccer fan is a better coach than the national coach J) etc.
Now – this is an orthopedic hospital and almost all of us are limping (a few had hand surgeries), so I can see how it would be difficult to play games. But not to argue during an important soccer game, or at least discuss the game, is very very surprising.
Some explanations from my friends:
- We were all too drugged! I suppose this is possible, but we weren’t that badly drugged after a few days.
- They were all expecting for me to open the discussion because I was the oldest!?
In any case – thank God that people are very friendly here, even if it is in a very silent kind of way! J
Here I am at United Hospital (any relationship with Manchester United is probably intentional) overlooking the Yang-jae intersection (about 15 minutes walk from my school and Onurri Church). I can see exits 6 and 7 of the Yang-jae subway station and KFC from my window on the 7th floor! Wave if you happen to be there! 🙂
I haven’t been in a hospital for about 30 years (I was in the hospital in Romania for hepatitis in 1982 or so). For less than two days (right after the operation) I was in a two-person room, but I was moved yesterday in a six-person room. I am told that my insurance covers this!?
It seems that the hospital experience is a family experience in Korea. Under my bed there is another bed that can be pulled out and used. One person in my room has his girlfriend (?) staying and sleeping there and one has his mother.
When I was in the two-persons room (I was mostly by myself because the other bed was empty) a new patient came. His mother, father, grandparents and sisters (?) also showed up and they filled the refrigerator (I only had some water and juice) probably feeling sorry for me for having so few things in the refrigerator (?).
It seems that family members can come and leave any time they wish (at least here; this is an orthopedic hospital).
There is no doubt that this society understands well the importance of family in the healing/comforting/encouraging process.
How sad that the church misses many times the importance of community/family in the healing process. It is never too late to learn and apply!
Isaiah didn’t want to visit me in the first day because he was very sad that his dad was in the hospital. When he heard that I was feeling better, he couldn’t wait to come the second day. He came the second day and did not really want to leave…but I needed the rest! 🙂
I finally feel that the toes to my right leg are fine…that is an improvement!
I just read a very convicting article by Jonathan Dodson for deleting my FACEBOOK account!
The one that I find the most compelling (and kind of scary!) is the following:
On a more personal note, David Calvin (our second son) was born more than one month ago (July 31st). He eats a lot and sleeps (of course he cries too!).
As most of you know, David Calvin Rata was born 500 years (to the month) after Jean Calvin and that is the reason for his middle name (NO – he is NOT named for Calvin Klein :))!
My wife has done an excellent job of posting all kinds of great pictures with our family. Take a look when you have some time.
So – why did we name him Calvin? Is it because Calvin once mattered?
[“There can be no serious doubt that Calvin once mattered. Any honest historian of any point of view and of any religious conviction would agree that Calvin was one of the most important people in the history of western civilization.”]
YES he was named after Calvin because of who Calvin was. But he is also named Calvin because Calvin Still Matters!
Please pray with us that David Calvin will be a talented poet like David, and a man with a passion for the glory of God (like Jean Calvin)! AMEN!
Well – better later than never. Most of you probably know by now that my beloved wife won the 2009 Mother of the Year.
All I can say is, “It’s about time.” She definitely deserves it for the hard work raising Isaiah, while also preparing for the coming of David in July.
For those of you who find it hard to believe (though I have no idea why) that my wife actually won this award, take a look at the clip below. The evidence is overwhelming!
Happy Mother’s day sweetheart! In Korean – Happy Mother’s Day yobo!
Perhaps I should have entitled this post: “Another Reason Why You Should Kill Your Television!” For I have mostly killed mine and the news that I just read (see below) only strenghtens my decison.
I “killed” mine by disconnecting the cable, so I can only watch selected DVDs (and that is not very often since Isaiah came on the scene 🙂 ).
The news that I am talking about can be found here. It seems that “Marriage gets little respect on network TV shows that instead revel in the pleasures of extramarital and even kinky sex, according to a study released Tuesday.”
The whole study is really disturbing:
Here I am in Korea after watching the first half of the game…and it is almost 2:00 am here. This is one thing Europeans should know about moving to the far east – most games from Europe will be very late, or early in the morning…If you want to watch some games from the States (like the Lakers or the Super Bowl), those are usually in the morning.
In any case – the game is fairly boring (as my brother Tiberius pointed out on SKYPE), but it understandable that both teams are cautious (it is 0-0 at the half). I assume that both teams will take more risks and attack in the second half, but Romania looks content with a tie (?).
If I do not write tomorrow about this game – it is probably because Romania lost. In any case – it is just a game!!! Things have to be put into perspective. When there are so many people who suffer in darkness and misery, who cares if Romania wins or loses? Even more – who cares who wins Euro 2008?
There are definitely more important issues to deal with. Meanwhile – GO ROMANIA!!!
Professor Alister McGrath was invited by a Methodist school from Seoul to give a series of lectures on spirituality and on his book The Dawkins Delusion. I was able to catch only his lecture on spirituality: “A Comparative Study Between the Spirituality of John Calvin and Johe Wesley.”
The lecture was read by McGrath and translated in Korean by one of the professors there.
Steve Green is in Korea at the invitation of John Song and our school. This evening I had the privilege and joy to hear him in concert with Song Jong Mi (an amazing Korean Christian singer) at a Presbyterian church in Seoul.
I must say that this was by far the best concert that I have ever been to. (And I have been to U2’s Zoo TV tour in SD in the 90s).
Here I (Romanian/American/Canadian/Korean?) am with Raj (India) and Jackson (Kenya) at Suwon Central Baptist Church (Korea). I only wish that I took a picture with our International Choir (over 20 countries).
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Here I am a US citizen (ok – Canadian too) born in Romania and living in Korea. How am I adjusting? I think I am adjusting pretty well. I am learning about Korea and Koreans, and I am catching a bit of the language too (though I love languages, I do not have much time these days).
A few things about Korea and Koreans helped me see parallels with Romania and Romanians.
First of all is the location of our countries and the size. Both of our countries are relatively small (even NK included) and we are both surrounded by three great empires which seek and sought to control our territories. Romania is surrounded by Turkey, Russia, and Hungary. Of course – with the exception of Russia (which now doesn’t even have a border with Romania), Turkey and Hungary are relatively weak contries. However – I am talking about the past. At one time or another – Romania was under the influence (and even oppression) of the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, or Russian Empire (Soviet Union etc).
One question (which always makes me smile) that I get once in a while from my friends in the west sounds like this: “What do you guys eat there?” Ha – that is a good question, and the short answer is: basically the same thing that I ate in the States. Considering the South Korea is a very advanced (and Seoul is a fairly cosmopolitan city) country and there is a COSTCO (= with a METRO in Romania) five minutes from work, I can basically eat anything I want. It is true that Feta cheese is much more expansive and hard to find, and that western food is in general more expensive that in the west, but it is possible to find.
All these being said, I must say that we also eat KOREAN food. YES – Korean food is spicier than Romanian food, but there are many dishes that we enjoy. A favorite dish (for both of us) is Dalk-Galbi. Here is another picture:
Thank God Steve Chang is back. He is the senior pastor in our English Ministry and his Sabbatical at Princeton Theological Seminary is over. So I am happy – I am not so sure about him – after almost 8 months of “rest”… he may not be ready yet for some real work. 😦
School started yesterday – and I am teaching some exciting courses: Hebrew, Rabbinic Hebrew and Exegesis of Song of Songs. And since I have so much time in my hands (because Steve is back and I am teaching only 3 courses – THANK GOD!) – I decided to start two more blogs. I started them with some long range plans.
We just got back from a short trip/vacation to Vivaldi Park (http://www.daemyungresort.com/vp/)- less than 2 hrs from Seoul. It was quite an experience, especially since my sister-in-law and her husband came with us. They were visiting Korea for the first time . (My brother-in-law can swear that he is the first person from his village who ever visited Korea 🙂 ).
It was a great and relaxing experience. Vivaldi Park has good skiing, and also Ocean World – a place which is open year-round. First day we went skiing. It was NOT Utah (that is one of the last places where I skied before coming to Korea), but the slopes were good and the ski lifts very efficient. I say that because I have never seen before a ski lift that can carry 8 people at one time. You can imagine that shortened the lines for the ski lift quite a bit.
Ocean World was very helpful and much necessary after a day of skiing. It is a place where you can play in the water – but most important – get all kinds of water-massages, cold and hot water, sauna etc. I have not seen anything like this in the States (it may well be available but I suppose for a lot more money -?), and the prices were reasonable – especially if you have 40-50% coupons – as we did.
Isaiah had a love/hate relationship with the water. He likes water a lot, but after a while he seemed to have had too much. It might have been the noise too (it is noisy with all the water streams and falls inside). Ocean World is fascinating and exciting, not only for the plethora of pools available, but also because the interior copies very well many monuments and paintings of ancient Egypt.
In any case – if you are in Korea and if you are looking for a nice place to ski, or simply to relax around water – Vivaldi Park should be a top destination. It is well worth the short drive from Seoul.
It is all a matter of perspective. Someone said: “I felt bad about my shoes because they were too tight (or because they were not ADIDAS 🙂 ), but then I saw someone who did not even have feet…” Maybe I feel bad because my car is in the shop…but there are so many who will never ever be able to even buy a car… Maybe you had a really tough day at work (or on the playground)…Well, take heart – some have a much much harder time than you … 🙂 – as you can see in the following clip!
Most historians realize that Christianity is moving south and east. Hence – I am happy to be living in Korea. It is a country where Christianity has made considerable inroads in the past 50 years. China seems to be following in its footsteps (or is it ahead?).
This came to me with renewed force as I was attending an Organ Recital at Onnuri Church (the church that sponsors our seminary). The church has thousands of members (I heard that 200 are added every month-?) and a fairly impressive organ. In this church Olivier Latry (porfessor of organ in the Academy of Paris) came to give a recital. His favorite composer is Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) “whose compositions depict what he termed “the marvellous aspects of the faith.”
Here Latry is playing with Philippe Lefebvre:
So – here I am in Korea, listening to an impressive organ recital with a fairly large audience. And I am thinking back to Europe…where the churches are empty and most organs have been silenced by the noise of indifference and unbelief.
I am glad to be in Korea. But I am thinking back to Europe, Romania, and even the United States. I hope and pray that Korea and China will one day re-evangelize Europe. I know that Korea has already started.
Perhaps the inspiring churches and the silent organs will once again be full of life and praise for our Creator.
Lord – increase my faith – I pray.
Brothers – please join me in this prayer.
P.S. Latry played Tournemire (Choral sur <Victimae paschali laudes>), Durufle, Alain, Florentz. Escaich, and Messiaen (L’Ascension). Unfortunately – I could not stay for the last part (Messiaen) – it was too late for baby Isaiah who was getting restless (and they were recording). 🙂
Is it difficult to be an “expat” in Korea? It depends.It certainly isn’t for me. And it hasn’t been from the very beginning.
Why is that? Is it because I am an “international freak” always on the move, and unsatisfied unless I experiment something new? I do not think so (though I may be rightly classified as an “international freak” – I lived in 4 different countries so far J).
I think one of the answers is COMMUNITY.
More specifically, it is CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.
As soon as I arrived in Korea I was surrounded by a loving Christian community. It wasn’t only at the school where I teach, but also at the church that I started to attend with Dr. Steve Chang (New Testament Professor and Pastor of this ministry).
There is much to be said about this community, but it is simpler to offer a clip from our last Christmas party. If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video clip (even though it is very short) must be worth thousands of words. Here you will see a “mixed multitude” singing a Christmas carol.
Korean Americans educated in the United States (lawyers, dentist, teachers etc.) rub shoulders with Canadians (the blonde guy is British-Canadian J) and Americans married to Korean women. Single Americans from the South, Manitoba, and the Midwest (most of them teachers) will sing carols with English speaking Koreans (engineers, counselors, workers etc.). There is even a Romanian-American-Canadian (born in Romania and with dual citizenship) living and teaching in Korea J.
Expecting mothers enjoy the company of recent young mothers. Small children are playing together, and a Korean American mother is holding a Romanian-American-Korean baby (that is how the clip ends)…
It is not all perfect and “heaven-like” (we are still on earth after all), but Christ is in our midst, and we sing for His glory.
What better way to celebrate Christmas?
No – it is not difficult to be an “expat.” At least not where Christ has been proclaimed and a Christian community was formed.
For where Christ is, there is love, joy, and forgiveness. And most important, the presence of the Holy Spirit is promised. And the fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace … (Galatians 5:22). I pray that these fruits will be evident in our lives.
P.S. Feel free to add your comments about the Christmas party, our community, and everything else you would like to add.
Blessings and JOY,
*HEM stands for Hallelujah English Ministry: http://hem.hcc.or.kr/.
Jesus as the Messiah – Luke 4:16-21
I continue with some useful insights from Dr. Peter Flint about the DSS and the New Testament. It is well known that Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah (chapter 61) when he went to the Synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath day (see Luke 4:16 to 21). He reads from Isaiah 61:1-2:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim goodnews to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering ofsight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year ofthe Lord’s favor.” (more…)
The Dead Sea Scrolls (well – a few fragments from the scrolls) made it to Korea and they will be here until June. Meanwhile – we have a few illustrious scholars (Emanuel Tov, Weston Fields, Bruce Zuckerman) giving lectures on the DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls). Today, together with Dr. Sun Myung Lyu (who is teaching a modular on Psalms at Torch), we made it to the museum and listened to Dr Peter Flint from Trinity Western University, Canada. His lecture was about the DSS and the New Testament. He had some interesting and useful information for students of the Bible. In the next few days, I will try to post some of his insights.
First of all, it is interesting to note that the community at Qumran had the same 3 favorite OT books as the New Testament writers. In fact, it is instructive and illuminating to take a look at the “top six” books found at Qumran, and to compare them with the most quoted books in the New Testament:
QUMRAN SCROLLS QUOTES in the NEW TESTAMENT
6. Leviticus (9 copies) 6. Minor Prophets (30 times)
5. Exodus (14 copies) 5. Genesis (39 times)
4. Genesis (20 copies) 4. Exodus (44 times)
3. Isaiah (24 copies) 3. (Deuteronomy (54 times)
2. Deuteronomy (27 copies) 2. Isaiah (66 times)
1. Psalms (34 copies) 1. Psalms (79 times)
It is clear that both “the Qumran community and the NT writers had the same three favorite books: Isaiah, Deuteronomy, and Psalms. It seems that the “theme in Isaiah that fascinated the Qumran community and the New Testament writers is the Messiah. The main theme that interested both community in Deuteronomy was the COVENANT…and both communities “quoted Psalms to praise God, and interpreted others as referring to the Messiah and the end of times.”
I had the chance to go to ETS and SBL in San Diego…with my wife and the baby it wasn’t the easiest thing. Plus – I had to present two papers for which I was not very prepared. My excuse is the baby…it is the best I could find…after all, when I submitted my proposals (for papers not yet written – I swore I will never do that again), Isaiah was not born yet. How was I supposed to know that you cannot study and write as much when a baby is around?? I guess I should have listened to my friends who already had babies…In any case – the conferences were a great chance to meet some new people (Tremper Longman, Eugene Merrill, Matt Harmon etc.) and to see again old friends (especially the Romanian theological crowd). I enjoyed ETS. The difference in spirit/atmosphere between ETS and SBL is rather striking. At ETS I heard many godly people talk about things relevant for the church (the theme was TEACHING THEM TO OBEY). P. Jenkins pointed out that the Africans most likely understand the OT better that us, and the discussion of Christopher’s Wright book was a delight. His book – The Mission of God – should be a standard text for anyone who is interested in the biblical basis for MISSIONS…It was nice to see SD again (that is where I went for undergraduate), and it was even better to meet with relatives and cayak at La Jolla. I used to surf there in my youth :):) The good old days…We had a great Thanksgiving in LA and I went back to my homechurch (in La Habra) where it was nice to see the youth (at least the few who showed up). Back in Korea I ran into a surprise…SOMEONE got into my juno account and forwarded all my messages to his yahoo account…I did not receive any messages for about 4-5 days. [Dear firstname.lastname@example.org – if you read this, please send me back all my messages…I am a poor guy (hey – I teach and preach) – so you have NOTHING to gain from my account. Thanks and blessings to you.] Perhaps more on ETS/SBL and my return to Korea later.