May 22 Tonight.

Tonight.

I arose this morning to the sound of an alarm and the soft static murmuring of an air conditioning unit that has all but lost it’s cool. I tried on outfit after outfit until I gave up and wore what was comfortable. I ate an apple with peanut butter because my diet is no longer worth starving for when I don’t have just the right thing.

I arrived to the train station to realize that my internal clock was an hour past reality and I was going to be late for church in the city. With no time to lose I drove my old clanky moto on the big roads with the traffic lights and the big buses and I arrived earlier than I’d hoped… thank God.

Sound check, mic check, the sounds of cleaning and music and eating and drinking first cups of coffee all around me.

Prayer. A breath, a whisper from heaven in the sounds of God’s children’s voices as we gathered together to hold hands in unity. Prayers for the sick, prayers for the hurting, and prayers for God’s glory in our holy worship.

The lights shined bright in the nightclub that becomes a meeting place for Jesus followers on Sunday. Come in, welcome all to church. I look out against the spotlights on the stage to see a dim image of people who are beautiful and chosen, not because of what they wore today but because they are loved and known by a good and perfect Father in heaven.

I was thankful as we sang. Thankful for the words of the songs and to God who is present in all seasons of life. Sometimes I closed my eyes and sometimes I looked at the church and sometimes I looked above.

The preacher brought a sermon to remind us of God’s favor and provision, and afterward a call for prayer.

A sister came forward and I put my hand on her back and I watched and I felt as tears streamed down her face. By God’s healing overflow the soreness in her waist was rendered gone and she was given a word of hope. Hallelujah.

First service, second service, clean up, go home.

I arrived to my moto to find that my helmet had been stolen but I remembered this should be no surprise because after all, I was in the city. A sister lent me just enough to buy a new one and I was thankful and I was able to drive myself home.

I drove an hour with my moto and the wind and the light rain on my skin from the city to the town.

And then tonight.

I was tired from the drive as I walked into a messy house with a mom whose husband is on a two-week trip and whose home is covered with the prints of three little kids.

Tonight.

I played with my little Taiwanese friends and shouted baseball words at them in English as we pitched and batted and ran all the bases to home. We laughed together and cheered in celebration at the victory of a home run even though it was all make believe and happening in the dimly lit basement level of an apartment complex. I touched the sweaty wet hair that I didn’t want to touch, plastered on the faces of happy children whose family I’ve grown to love.

Tonight.

We returned to the apartment together and sweaty and dirty and we washed our hands to eat. And we returned to a mom and friend who loves her family and is pursued by God. Once the children were fed and conquered it was me and my mom friend and I was thankful for the moment.

We talked as we ate, about Jesus and philosophy and the church and the struggles and victories of a life of faith. We talked about real things and laughing things, interrupted here and there by a somersaulting five year old and a seven year old who can turn a dirty old blanket into the most beautiful twirling dress. We talked as we did the dishes and we talked as we came to the door.

Tonight.

As we stood outside the apartment door my friend shared with me her heart. The door opened and the two girls came out in joy, pressing themselves against mom and me and hugging us and distracting us as we talked.

Tonight.

My friend let me pray for her as the girls continued to hug and laugh, and it was real and God heard our prayer. Together we said “Amen” and made our plans for next time and the kids were off to bathe and to bed. I said goodbye to my friend and we gave final hugs and I returned to my moto in the rain.

Tonight I looked at my day and I was reminded of the simplicity and joy of the call. The call to be present with people and to embrace the feeling of uncertainty and risk that comes with knowing and being known. Reminded that when it comes to Jesus, knowledge itself is a priceless act of faith that never returns void. That to know him and to believe in the richness of his word shapes the way we live and that our values are the trunk and our belief is the roots and if Jesus is the roots than the tree of life is bearing and strong.

Tonight.

 

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A Sincere Heart

Three months ago Lulu* walked into the Rock on a Friday night.

She came alone on one of our “Friday Night Activities” when I was sharing on the topic of love languages. Because “I love you” is not often spoken or heard in Taiwanese culture (beginning in the home), I’ve heard from a lot of friends that they are confused about what the open expression of love looks like.

Ultimately in Christ we know that love is sacrificial. The love of God is healing and transformational, it is a perfect love that casts out all fear. 1 John 4:18

During that night I felt led to share my testimony with the crowd before getting into an activity that was about discovering our love languages. After sharing, I sat down at a table with some new friends and we shared a bit more on the topic.

The following Monday night Lulu returned to the Rock and I sat with her at a table.

“This is a Christian place, isn’t it? I’m not a Christian…” Lulu said with a bit of hesitancy. I shared with her about what the Rock is and why I am here in Taiwan, and we quickly became friends. Lulu loves to laugh and encourage people, so she is easy to talk to in a setting like the Rock. After having a bit of light conversation, she told me what was really on her heart.

“I want to tell you – I think God brought me here. When I was in high school I had Christian friends who would take me to church sometimes and I always felt happy there. But my family is not Christian…”

Lulu went on to tell me she had gotten into a fight with her friend before she came that  Friday night. While she was still fuming with anger, she felt a stir in her heart to go to the Rock (she had been there once before when she was a high school student). She felt peace with the stir, and followed the instinct. She was able to relate to a few of the things I shared in my testimony and was touched by hearing about the love of God for her.

“I want to know more.” Lulu looked at me with a spark of earnest desire in her eyes. My heart leaps in those moments, the ones when you realize, this is why I am here. 

Since then Lulu and I have gotten together regularly. Her desire to live a sanctified life in Christ is authentic. She started going to church regularly and sets a beautiful example of what it means to be a student of God’s word by reading the Bible along with supplemental books on the historicity of scripture. In January when we talked about what our biggest hopes and dreams are for 2015, she smiled and said, “I just love Jesus so much, Rebecca. My biggest hope is just to get baptized before my birthday this year. That’s all I want.”

Lulu’s story is an ongoing chapter in the book of what God is doing in Taiwan.

Please pray for Lulu and for the countless other Taiwanese who are ready to hear the gospel. God is doing big things in Taiwan.

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9: 35-38

*Lulu’s name was changed for this story.

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Philippines Relief Trip

Hello Friends!

Sorry to have to refer you to this blog rather than the normal email. My account wouldn’t let me attach all of the photos in the email as there wasn’t enough space. Following is the final update from our trip to the Philippines:

Thank you again for your countless prayers as ten of us traveled to Tacloban, Philippines last week to do relief work. In a short statement, our time was deeply impacting both outwardly and inwardly, and there remains a lot of work to be done in the Philippines as they continue to recover from such a great disaster. Here is an overview of our week with some pictures, so that you can see the current situation, what we did, and so you can know how to continue praying for these people and being involved in the rebuilding of this area.
We took an overnight flight from Taipei on Saturday night to arrive in Tacloban city on Sunday mid-morning. Our first views of the destruction were from the plane as we landed. It became more real as we travelled on land to the place we were staying. Basically the entire city, with the exception of a few strong buildings, has been flattened by the surges of water and the strong winds that characterized typhoon Yolanda. Our contact brought it to relatable terms when he said the strength of the storm was as the equivalent of a tornado sitting on top of a house for five hours. Palm trees were uprooted and the trees that remained on the mountains around us looked like dandelions with their seeds blown off. Through YWAM’s connections we were able to work with the vice mayor of the city, whose wife owns a hotel along the coast, where we stayed for the week. Our first day we got to rest up after a night of travel and prepare for the busy week ahead (it was busy).
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Throughout the rest of the week we had our hands in a lot of different aspects of the relief work. Some of our team went out into the swampy, stick-filled, mucky shorelines and outskirts of the city to retrieve bodies of the deceased. In the time we were there, our team assisted in retrieving about 25 bodies. It is amazing to think that our contact, along with whoever he could get help from, was involved in retrieving more than 300 bodies himself. This was definitely the more difficult part of our week as everything about it is just not appealing. Thankfully the Lord helped our team get through the first couple days of doing this kind of work. For many of the people in this area, they had been seeing a lot of these bodies without being able to do anything about it as they didn’t have the proper tools to take care of them (body bags, gloves, masks, etc), so it was a great help for the communities. After two mornings of body retrieval we were able to move on toward more labor-intensive tasks of clearing out homes and yards that were still filled with debris. The ground level of the buildings we cleaned were covered in inches of black muck that was created by the initial storm and by heavy rains that came in the weeks after. Refrigerators, tv’s, dressers, clothes, sofas, everything we brought out was damaged beyond repair, and we heard many people’s stories about their struggle to find safety in the typhoon. We were able to see with our eyes the wooden beams that miraculously supported the weight of mothers and fathers and children, and to hear with our ears the stories of those who had lost loved ones or were still waiting for reports confirming where they were. In the midst of these conversations the Lord gave us many opportunities to share the gospel with people who are so obviously in a place of desperate need. One conversation I remember well was with two young ladies who were cousins, Khan and Venice. They lost their aunt and baby niece in the storm, as well as their home which we spent some time clearing out. We began to discuss what it means to have a relationship with Jesus, to trust him with daily needs, and to know that Jesus relates to them in the midst of the suffering they are going through. Khan looked at me quickly at one point in our conversation and said very seriously, “After this I know that I need to change.” When I asked her how she thought she needed to change, she responded by saying that she needs to be thankful for the things she has. We continued to talk about this for a little while and as we ended our visit I remember feeling so impressed by that one comment. As many times as we talked about the closeness of Christ and the grace of God in sending his son to die on the cross for us, the thing that it seemed God was speaking to her in that moment was simply to be thankful. I really believe this is one of many steps Khan will take in opening her heart to the Lord, and I pray that through her newfound thankfulness, a humble heart will be born that recognizes the true and perfect gift that’s found in the gospel.
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Along with all of the cleanup, we were also able to do quite a bit of hands-on work at the relief distribution center that was temporarily headquartered in the vice-mayor’s office. We were told while we were there that in the current situation most of the relief goods have been given by the government to citizens in the agricultural towns outside the main city of Tacloban (locals let us know that this is because of some underlying unresolved issues between Filipino government officials and the leadership of the city of Tacloban). As a result of this, the public government sponsored relief has been distributed first to the outskirt communities, while the work we did was to sort and distribute private donations to be distributed throughout the inner city districts. We helped pack and distribute roughly 4,000 bags of food, 400 bags of clothing, and 200 tool packages for people to begin rebuilding their homes. For myself and our team this was a rewarding time. We got to meet a lot of people and encourage them with the love of Jesus as we gave them something to fill their stomachs. Imagine standing among hundreds of people who are waiting in broken lines to receive the first aid since the storm hit. “This is the first time we have received relief! Thank you!” One of the more memorable moments for me was when I stood next to the vice mayor as he handed bags out one day. My job was to mark people’s index fingers as they came through the line so that we could see who had already received a bag of food. As I stood there, I held for a small moment the hand of more than a 150 people. I looked at their faces and gave them a quick encouragement about the love of God, and I saw hunger and grief and sometimes hope. I held hands that hadn’t had a proper washing in weeks. About twenty minutes into this, a heavy rain started to pour and we quickly became drenched while we carried on. As I looked around me I realized that in Taiwan’s rainy season I have shelter to run to, which is something that these people do not presently have. A deep sense of thankfulness washed over me and caused me to reflect that there is nothing in this life that is worthy of a complaining attitude. The gifts of God run deep in our lives and although it is sometimes hard to see, we really can know that all things work for the glory of God and for our own best as we trust him and follow him with faithful hearts.
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Throughout our time in Tacloban we buried bodies, cleared debris, cleaned a hotel, distributed food, handed out clothes and hammers and nails, played tag with children, and shared the love of Jesus with our hands, feet, words, prayers, hugs, and hearts. It was a blessed opportunity to extend ourselves to God’s precious people in their time of need, and there remains so much more to be done.
Thank you for all who gave generously for our team to go, and who have contributed to the ongoing needs they are facing in the Philippines. Continue to pray for this nation as they will be in the process of rebuilding for years to come. People have lost loved ones, homes, businesses, vehicles, etc. and these are not things that are regained overnight. Romans 5:2-5 says, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Pray for the hope of Christ to build up their hearts as they face a future of unknowns, and for the true gospel and love of Christ to invade people’s hearts and lead them to a saving knowledge of their maker. Pray for more workers to go out and support the rebuilding of this beautiful place.
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Our YWAM base in Taiwan is planning to send out future teams to continue relief work in the Philippines. If you would be interested in giving toward these trips please contact me or follow the link on this blog to give through Paypal.
I hope you’re encouraged as you read this post!
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Me with Rhea, who headed up the food distribution.

Home

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I wanted to title this entry “Sofa.”
Then I thought I would call it “Comfort.”

But “home” is the word that most aptly describes what I am discovering in this season.

Receive

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There is a love that is deeper than my feelings are able to fully witness. It is driven by an impenetrable, personal force and it is mine to receive.

Oh the depths of me, how I want to always receive. Like my morning coffee, like the best pizza in town, I want to receive. Like a one way ticket to paradise, I want to receive.

The Road Less Travelled

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Lately I’ve been taking my bike out for morning rides. Two years ago I would have laughed at anyone who would suggest the benefits of waking up at 5am, out of the house and on the road by 515 to ride for a couple hours before the rest of the world starts its day.

Well, at least I would have laughed at the suggestion that I do that.

But here’s what I’ve learned so far in this adventure.

1. Discipline in One Area of Life Can Have a Domino Effect – As soon as I began to be more disciplined in this area of my life, I started to see how it was positively influencing other areas of my life where I’ve been seeking growth. Four weeks ago I set a goal that I would read for an hour every day. Books on spirituality, Christian faith, Bible dictionaries, the whole deal. I want to grow as a disciple and live as a learner. As soon as I began to wake up before the sun to go for my daily ride, I started to realize that my reading goal was possible too. I’ve gone through two books and have another one waiting for me to dive into next Monday.

2. Some

Hi Friends

Let me be completely honest with you about the goal of sharing this, as it’s not the normal blog entry… I want to share with you (and hopefully encourage you with) what’s going on here in Taiwan, and I also want to invite you to partner with me in some of the financial and prayer needs I am facing as I prepare for a Bible teaching outreach to India and Nepal in two weeks. We are now entering our second week of Titus training time, and I can honestly reflect that time goes by quickly! Included is a brief update on the training time, information about the need for Bible teaching and study tools, and a description of my personal financial and prayer needs as we near outreach.

Titus 2013
I am so thankful to be starting 2013 by helping train 22 young people to be Bible teachers. It is a rare and exciting thing to see so many people gathered together in a room eager to serve the church through Bible teaching. Everyone is working hard, and as staff we are busy preparing our own teachings and making plans for the two-month outreaches we’ll go on later this month. Last week I got to teach them on the topic of “Presenting Your Lecture” and had an awesome time with the class. God really challenged my own heart during preparation about what it means to truly serve people by presenting God’s word in a way that they can (culturally) understand it. Our comfort and preferences should never stand in the way of the message God wants to speak through us!
In two weeks we will be taking teams into:
Taiwan, Ch, Philippines, Myanmar, Japan, Nagaland (India), Samoa, and India/Nepal (my team!)
I’m beyond excited about the opportunity to bring Bible study tools to India and Nepal! Personally it has been on my heart for the last four years to travel to Nepal, and God has graciously opened the door for me to take a team of three people into the eastern part of the nation to teach the Bible. After last year’s teaching trip to Northeast India I have grown more excited and expectant for what God is doing in this part of the world, and I have every hope that God will use this time to minister to his people in powerful and life-changing ways as they learn to study His word inductively. The Bible is a precious gift, and there are millions of people across the world who are desperate for sound Bible teaching.
Quick facts:
75% of all Christians live somewhere in Asia, Africa, or South America
85% of all evangelical churches are being led by pastors who have not been through theological training.
There is an undeniable famine of Bible teaching in the worldwide church, and it is our goal to bring Bible training where there is great need. While on this outreach we will be teaching pastors, church leaders, youth, and villagers how to study the Bible inductively, topical teachings, books of the Bible, Bible overview, and Bible study seminars.
We will leave Taiwan on the 28th of January and return the end of March. I look forward to keeping you updated throughout our time in India and Nepal and will probably do a lot of that here on this blog.
FINANCIAL NEED
I am still in need of the $1,000 that will cover flights into and within India (we will travel to Delhi and fly to the Northeast),
$600 for ground fees (this includes accommodation, food, transportation and communication for the two months in India and Nepal), and
$125 for visas into India and Nepal.
Total need: $1,725.
Those are my personal needs. As a program we are also in need of finances for three of our participants as well as three more outreach leaders. If you would like more details on how to support them, please let me know and I will make sure that happens!
I would ask you to prayerfully consider giving toward this outreach… this may seem like a lot of money to raise in a short amount of time, and it is(!), but God is able. The encouragement and spiritual growth of God’s people is worth investing into and is sure to bear much fruit. I am already looking forward to seeing how God will provide!
PRAYER NEEDS:
– Finances!
– Pray for spiritual protection and physical health over the team (myself, Chrissy, Adam, Austin, Daniela, and Chris) as we will have a heavy schedule.
– Pray for God’s guidance as our contacts (Raju, Daniel, and Deepak) work hard to prepare teaching opportunities in West Bengal and Nepal.
If you would like to give, please let me know! You can send any donations through my home church’s Online Giving Site (http://cstoneag.org), or you can follow the link on this blog by hitting the “Paypal” button at the bottom of the “Support” page.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for partnering with me in this ministry. I look forward to hearing from you! To God be every ounce of the glory.
Lots of blessings,
Becca Nudelman

2012

Dear 2012,

Saying goodbye is a deep sigh.

To say this has been a growing year would be a tremendous understatement. A few days ago I sat down at Starbucks to begin processing the journey of 2012. January took me an hour to write, February even longer. My Bible open next to me, I sifted through memories of sights and smells and words and emotions run deep and I began to realize that not one of these moments passed by without my Father close. Closer than close. He became core and center of my 2012 and is core and center as I enter 2013. And piercing to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of my heart… is His word. This word, so living and active, has become the life-blood and the part that makes me whole and alive. It’s in my hands and it is convicting and life-giving. Handwritten grace and the chronicles of a merciful God who makes love an action without abandon and is worthy of every milli-ounce of glory that could ever be gotten. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1&14). Jesus you are good.

Throughout 2012 I began to understand more about myself. There were moments where his molding hands pressed deeply, kneading and shaping my unseen physique and there was nothing for me to do except surrender and accept his grace. After moving to a new country and culture there were moments when I felt isolated, moments that drew me to the realization that he understands. There were also a good plenty of moments where laughter echoed off the walls of my belly until I cried. It has not gone unnoticed that his molding refines and is seasoned with joy.

Dear 2013,

As I look ahead I am excited to see what you hold. My one word for this year: embrace. I am ready.

Cold Day, Danshui

Cold day, Danshui.

Sweatshirt.

Hot chocolate.

Soft blanket to keep me warm.

Enveloped in Ephesians. Preparing for Bible Study tonight with the church down the street.

There’s nothing better in this world than the love of Jesus and the promise of eternity with him. The comfort of my blanket reminds me of this comfort in my soul, along with the pillows and along with the feeling of warmth that emanates from the mug in my hands. I cling to the mug, grabbing hold tightly with my hands, moving every fingertip along its smooth, hot surface in order to soak in all its warmth. This is comfort, this is the reminder.

He is with me in it all.

And just as the warmth is felt from the outside in, he has called me to adapt myself to this truth and to this trust. Knowing it as my deepest reality and my true identity and striving that others around me would know this love that permeates outside in, inside out.

There is something mysterious and beautiful about the call to come alongside the Maker of the heavens in bringing his kingdom to this earth. It is profound to the core.

Help me, Jesus. Give me wisdom; give me love for those.

Love for the person with the bad breath, and the person with the scars. Love for the person who taps incessantly on my shoulder to ask questions that I don’t know the answer to. Love for the young boy who works at the convenience store down the street, and for the old woman who sits at the entrance of her hut on the main street, smiling with her wriggly tooth and with her humble heart. I am thankful for all of these, and I am thankful for this constant reminder that you are my source. You are with me in it all.

As I study and as I do my laundry on this cold afternoon, you are with me in it all.

Verily, Verily, Verily Vocal

Pictures (clockwise from top left): Sunday trip to Fulong with my roommate, Allie, and Adele; two little ladies schooling me in how to ice a brownie; at staff barbecue during a week of training and development; most of the Titus staff around the table for lunch.

Tonight there are a ton of mosquitos in the apartment. I’m not exaggerating. A couple of years ago I was with a team in Cambodia and I wrote a song about these little blood-suckers. (When you’re sleeping on a concrete slab in southeast asia in the middle of summer without any bug spray what would you do with your spare time?) But tonight my roommates and I just sit here with our electric tennis racket mosquito zapper, waiting for the chance to grab it and show all of them who’s boss…

In other news I’ve recently decided to set a goal for myself – to figure out how to get a permit to play music in public. I have this crazy idea that if I could get a few people on board with me we could re-write some classic Christmas tunes and play them by the riverfront in Danshui. People here love music and I sincerely believe that it is a God-given love for music that can open windows of opportunity for God to speak to their hearts, or for a conversation to take place that would lead us toward talking a bit more about the meaning of the Christ –the reason– of Christmas. Conveniently enough music is also one of my closer friends (she knows me well) and I’m looking for more places where we can go out, have some fun and make new friends together. For some people, going to see movies is life-giving and restful, for others it’s sinking in deep with a good book or taking a dance class, and for me it’s most oftentimes music.

I’ve got to say though, this music thing can be hard work. Yesterday marked the fourth week of my singing class at the Rock, and every week has been a little different. The first week I had fourteen people. The second, twenty-something. Last week, twelve. Yesterday I had what I will call “the faithful five” for blog’s sake. It hasn’t been easy mostly due to the fact that I have only ever taken one voice lesson in my life, and my experience is so different that as far as it relates to the class I’m teaching, my best resource is to look back to my years in high school chorus as well as any other online tutorials I can find. The intention of this class of course isn’t just to teach people how to sing well, but to establish a foundation for friendship discipleship. So I’m extremely thankful for last night’s class because I’ve been praying that God would give me some direction in who to invest in. That may sound harsh, but when I have twenty-odd people in my class and an hour and a half at the most to spend with them, I have to seek some wisdom. Well last night God really highlighted some of those people to me… and I’m looking forward to spending more time getting to know them. In the midst of working with a ministry where I am always meeting new people through different teaching and preaching engagements my heart is hopeful for friendships that will be ongoing and stable. At the end of last night’s class I sat down with one of my students for some time to talk about specific questions and concerns she’s had about her voice. “For my whole life I have always wanted to get up and sing at the KTV (karaoke) but I can’t – I just sit down and watch everyone else. I dream that I could maybe do it. Do you think I could do it?” It’s so simple a desire, but one that runs so deep. She’s thirty-nine years old and has so much longing in her heart to be able to just stand up and express herself in a way that she loves and would be accepted for it. God made her and sees in her a beauty and potential that she can’t see, and I hope in the coming months she will be so deeply impacted by his love and mercy that it changes her life forever. He’s really into redemption, and the singing is just the tip of the iceberg.