By Eric Spangler, Asia Area Director
April-June 2016 issue Free Methodist World Missions Pulse
I woke early that mid-June morning, eager to walk through one of my favorite places in Hong Kong – Kowloon Park. My wife, Virginia, our daughter Bethany and I were beginning a three-week swing through Asia. This was Bethany’s first time back to Asia since she was 4 years old (our family of six visited in 2001). She was now 18, and I sensed Jesus had something special for her this trip. It was a good morning.
Partly jet lagged, partly enthusiastic, I began my work by stopping for coffee at the Star Ferry Pier. As I entered the park, I was lost in thoughts of the ministry ahead, happy to be in Asia, happy to be out on a walk to pray. I noticed a man to my right who said something under his breath. I looked up and said with a smile, “Oh, good morning, sir!”
“No. No good morning for you!” he replied angrily.
What was that about? Was this a spiritual attack? Was he mentally imbalanced? Did he have someone else around the corner ready to help make sure I didn’t have a good morning? I realized I had a moment to choose how I was going to respond. Rather than say something back in retaliation or give in to fear, I chose to respond in prayer. I prayed for Asia, Hong Kong, and my own need to respond well – not only to this man, but to all in my path, and to the Father. My responses to others, to the circumstances of life, and to God Himself say something about what’s going on within me.
Shortly after this encounter, I read the first chapter of the Gospel of John – words I’ve read and preached on many times. But this time, I saw something new.
“He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him” (John 1:10-11 NLT).
I’ve always felt it was incredible that the Creator of all things came into the world He created, to people who were expecting Him, and yet they completely missed Him. Then it hit me: I am part of the world He created. Is there any way in which I am not recognizing Him? Have I completely missed His efforts to speak to me, to be present with me? Furthermore, I am one of His own people. Is there any way in which I’m rejecting Him? Maybe with my responses toward others? To the situations and circumstances around me? To the Spirit’s direction?
This the essence of mission – whether in Hong Kong, Seattle or New Jersey: help people recognize and receive Jesus, primarily by our responses to life, to others, and to Jesus Himself. Sadly, there are times when my own responses wouldn’t help people recognize Jesus, let alone want to know more about Him in order to receive Him. And there are probably times when the Father has greeted me at the beginning of my day, “Good morning!” but my attitude has said, “No! No good morning for You.”
But most mornings I remember God’s grand “good morning” to me, and I smile, grateful for the opportunity to pass that along, regardless of how others might respond.