Monday, March 08, 2010

Action speaks louder than the words

By Serena Heptol teargun in China

AT a restaurant we go to often, we tried to pay for a stranger’s dinner. This is not acceptable in China. The Chinese people need to save face. They want to look perfect in front of every one.

That means they do not want others to think they need help. They think if some one tries to help them they are looking down at them because you think they are poor. The man refused our kindness.

Sometimes people accept and sometimes people do not. I think though it’s best to try if the Spirit of God is leading us to do something. It is better to obey God and be rejected by man than to be rejected by God and accepted by man.

The staff we asked to pay his bill was very surprised and happy we would do such a thing. They commented that no one in China would ever do that. Our actions were very strange to the local people. Money is their god.

They believe that as much money should be taken from people especially foreigners. The owner of the restaurant said she thought we were special people with a good heart.

She asked us why we came to China and we replied that Jesus had told us to come to China. She explained about how she believed in Buddhism because the government told them too.

There are three types of ways to do Buddhism: the first where you say you believe but do not really in your heart, the second where you be kind to others and thirdly where you are concerned about your spirit.

When we told her how Jesus sent us to China she was not surprised and said you are concerned about your spirit. She later gave us a free drink and a very large discount off our bill which was very rare.

The lady we buy our vegetables from enjoys when we go to buy from her. Her very small shop is made from plastic sheets and bamboo and is very cold in minus 30 degrees Celsius.

She makes me sit down very close to her. We communicate the best we can, me without Chinese and her without English. She shows me the cross stitch she is making. She knows that I love and respect her.

I think that she over charges me for veggies but for the sake of the Gospel this is the one and only time I do not say anything. We sit close together and we communicate with our actions.

She too knows that we believe in Jesus and was not surprised when we told her of our faith in Jesus. When I was teaching in Dalian my students often asked me 'Serena why are not you like a normal teacher'

I would smile and say, 'normal is the failure of potential'. They would walk away confused and come back in a week and ask 'why are not you like a normal teacher' as they are standing on their table answering the question I have asked them.

One day when they asked me what I did on the weekend I said that I go to church. They said 'ohh that explains it'. They then understood why am not like other teachers.

In China, to be a Christian you can believe but not share your faith with non believers. I have to be very careful. I am monitored in every class at every school I teach at.

The Chinese government knows everything. Each province is different in their level of strictness. In Shenyang where we live is very strict.

Late last year the Shenyang government tightened the laws more. Thankfully with the Spirit of God in me is obvious. What I believe and my actions back up the living Spirit in me. I do not speak Chinese very well but when I walk down the road people wave hello. I say hello to children and occasionally give them lolly pops.

One young girl who does not speak English, I would stop by say hello and in the end I would open my arms with a big smile. I would hug her all the while having a big smile on her face.

In the end she would do the same waiting for me to hug her. The people know I love them because my actions show them. A smile, saying hello, spending time with people, giving what you can is saying “I love you and you are valuable to me”.

The owner of the restaurant said she knew we were Spirit people. Spirit speaks to Spirit. People know you by your actions.

Jeffers' (husband) mother knows I love her like my own mother because of how I treat her even though I do not speak Enga language (I will learn it much nicer than Chinese).

To be agents of change we must first pray. A praying country is a changing country. However our actions are the words of our heart. Jesus said you shall know my disciples by their fruit (John 15:8). I know a mango tree because it has mango's.

Born again Christians are of two worlds because we live in the physical world. However we are children of the highest King. We inherit the Kingdom if we produce fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:21).

Those who are born again believers are born of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:23).

This is how we should be acting. We should act them out in our lives. These are the character traits of one who has committed themselves to Jesus. Are you kind? Are you patient? Do you have self control?

Just because you go to church and say you’re a Christian does not mean you are doing these things. I can go to Big Rooster but it does not make me a chicken. People know you by your actions.

Do you act with fits of rage, jealously, selfish ambition, impurity in your thoughts, words or motives, drunkenness. Do you get drunk, dissension. Do you gossip?

Most Christians share other people’s information under the false pretense to pray about it. You do not need to know the need of some one else, pray in tongues for them and let God be God.

Do you envy? Are you sexually immoral? (Galatians 5:19-21). These things are at the opposite end of where God lives. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom (Galatians 5:21).

God is a God of Grace. We do not deserve to go to Heaven but Jesus dies for us while we were still sinners. Jesus came to earth to be the word in flesh (John 1:14).

He is the fruit of our salvation. A country that is different to what it is now can only be different if the actions of the people change. Actions make a country what it is. People who are corrupt make the country corrupt because of their corrupt actions. People who show the fruit of the Spirit will make the country that way.

To have a changing country, action must follow prayer. God will do His part but you must do yours. You are messengers of God. You have your instruction manual, the Bible and you must talk to the commander, God.

You must do your part. You are His hands and feet. Being a person of the Spirit is hard work if it goes against our sinful nature.

I am the most impatient person on the planet. I grew up with the idea that time is money. Waste time and you’re wasting money. I have to control myself when I am waiting in line or walking behind someone who is slow.

I pray in the Spirit when I feel like I want to get angry or am being impatient. I remember the person in front of me is made in the image of God. Jesus died so that God could restore relationship between God and people and people with each other.

China is teaching me patience. There are people everywhere so I am always waiting. God does not just hand us the fruits of the Spirit into us. God gives us opportunities to grow the fruit so that we can be made into His image.

We will never be perfect at these things. It takes a life time to master. I am more patient than I was a year ago but each and every one of us needs improvement especially me.

Being people of the Spirit is a huge responsibility the effects will last for eternity. Your actions can lead a person into the Kingdom of God but your actions may also lead them out of the Kingdom of God.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you ask what ever you wish and it will be given to you” (John 15:7).

If you produce good fruits and ask God to clean your country of corruption, so that PNG will be known as the country that glorifies God. GOD will give what you ask. Guaranteed!

Note. Serena Heptol Teargun contributed to this article. She lives in Shenyang with her PNG husband, Jeffers Heptol Teargun. The article was also published by Sunday Chronicle newspaper in PNG

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