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Vol. 9 No. 6
November/December 2005



LIGHT THAT GIVES LIFE
Dr. Alton A. Gould
Chairman Emeritus
''Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world! Follow Me ... you will have the light that gives life.'" - John 8:12.

It is dangerous to walk in darkness. You can't see where to go so you bump into objects. You may fall over things on the ground even stumble into holes. You can't see the direction in which you are moving. Real darkness is scary and dangerous. While walking the dark streets and country lanes in China I often depended upon a guide to lead the way. Having no flashlight to brighten the way I had to follow my guide who walked ahead with a little oil lamp suspended on a bamboo stick. Holding the flickering lamp at my feet I was able to avoid any obstacle on the path while he led me safely on my way.

Jesus spoke the above words during the Festival of Tabernacles when people gathered from afar to celebrate the desert wanderings when they lived in temporary shelters. On the first evening of the festival there was a ceremony called "The Illumination of the Temple". Large candelabras were lit which burned all night. The light was so powerful it reached far outside illuminating parts of the city. People celebrated with singing and dancing but it all stopped when the lights were extinguished in the morning. Jesus was saying that He was the light that never went out. He was being lit by a hidden source of light. God the Father Himself. And His light reached, not just to one city but to all the world bringing Light and Life. Light that shines on!

This is the ministry of ECF INTERNATIONAL. At this Season we together give thanks to God that the Light still shines on. God was in Christ coming as a babe on that first Christmas to be the Light of the World. It was this bringing not only light but a living vision to reach a darkened and needy world with the Light that penetrates the darkness of men's lives. The Light that gives Life.

With Thanksgiving for what God has done in our lives and at this season of Christmas may we together make a new beginning and commitment of life and resources to enable ECF to continue to minister in all the countries to which He has called and to whom we labour as we together take the Light of the Gospel. What if you knew, in so doing, that your contribution changed the life, not only of a single person, but also of a whole city neighbourhood, or rural village? That is what ECF ministries is all about.

Christ Jesus is still The Light for a world in darkness. In our world and in the world of all ECF ministries there is darkness of ignorance, of unbelief, of poverty, of fear, of sadness, of emptiness, of disease and of loneliness. Together with God's leading and power and with the help of faithful and loyal supporters we can light up our world - your world and my world - whatever form of darkness enshrouds it. Together we can bring light and life to seeking and waiting humanity. He will shine in it - for ever! This is the message of Christmas with Thanksgiving.

This is the message we carry into another New Year as we venture forth for God. It is our prayer that God may give ECF and us personally a spirit of faith and courage to enter into new areas of ministry even though that may be costly. God continues to challenge and call ECF to a great journey of faith that is taking us to reach out to people who have not yet had the joy and privilege of a relationship with Christ. God invites each one of us to partner with Him 'until all have heard.' At this Season will you celebrate that privilege with us?

The late Amy Carmichael said: You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.? We know that as she gave her life for the people of India. It was not a matter of duty; it was sheer love or her Lord, for the people of India, for others. God's example at the first Christmas says everything: He gave because He loved (Jn. 3:16). Jesus in turn expressed it thus?Freely you have received, freely give? God's great generosity to us sets us free to model that generosity towards and for others. Because He gave, we are able to give and to share. This is the message of missions! The Light Shines On! The Light of the WHOLE World is Jesus bringing THE LIGHT THAT GIVES LIFE!


Love Never Ends
After two years of discussion and planning with the China Christian Council, ECF is working in partnership with CCC to produce a series of TV programs on the movement of the Chinese Churches in China. Under the title "Love Never Ends" ECF together with the TV team in Shanghai, has completed three of the four projects this month, namely: The Bible Ministry in China; the Shanghai Moore Memorial Church, and the Siehui Christian Church. The TV team in China continues to finish the production on the orphanage in Hebei province. All these TV media productions are designed for public information and TV viewing in the United States.

This special series will provide various worship experiences in different cities all throughout China with actual on site interviews and personal sharing. Each program will feature a different theme and with a special presentation of a local congregation, sharing the historical background of the church; the changes and challenges the congregation had faced over the years; the current situation of the Body life and the future growth as a unique congregation in China.

The main purposes of producing this series are : First, to show what God is doing inside China among the various churches in different places. Second, to share the pain and joy of these Christian congregations as God led them through a long path in Chinese history. And Third, to stimulate partnership with other Christians and churches around the world in order to generate prayer and spiritual support for all the Chinese Christians and to learn the secret of church growth inside China.

ECF has set a goal to produce all four programs in the Spring of 2006 in time to welcome the arrival of the Bible Exhibition to be held at the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California in late April. The Lord willing, all four programs will be given away free of charge for those who want to receive a full package of this special production.



Shanghai Home for the Elderly
Over the years, with the help of the Education and Culture Foundation, ECF has established five Homes For the Elderly in China. Early winter 2005, Dr. and Mrs. Doug Louie of the Chinese Christian Church in Tacoma, Washington transported over 100 wool sweaters knitted by members of their church to be distributed in three Homes for the Elderly in Shanghai, China, at the 15th Anniversary Celebration of the formation of this unique home for the aged in China. Today, the population of Shanghai is over 13 millions and 1.2% are over the age of 65. Therefore, the care for the aged is a serious issue for both the government and the families. Through generous donations from four Christian families in the United States, ECF, in partnership with the local government, established four of such homes in Shanghai. Hundreds of seniors have received love and help from this program.

This particular donation of winter wool sweaters from Tacoma, Washington represents a unique kind of love in action because these sweaters were all knitted by the hands of real and concerned Christian people on the other side of the Pacific ocean. When the sweaters were presented to the seniors and as they placed these wool products on their bodies, they not only felt the warmth of the body but also the love of the hearts from those who made these winter clothing. Some expressed their joy and appreciation with kind words and in tears. When Dr. and Mrs. Louie shared the love of God in their lives and works, all were blessed by God's presence.



R.S. Carlson
As we come again into the holiday season, once more the old story becomes the new. My own thoughts at times return to scenes I knew as a missionary kid in Alaska. In my ninth grade year, I attended a mission high school in a village on the northwest Alaska coast. The school year had barely started when an especially severe storm swept inland from the Bering sea, flooding portions of the village and the mission school compound. Filling and emplacing sandbags one night, and then cleaning up the aftermath in daylight the week following made hard reality part of that year's curriculum. But then, as life went on, the event faded into the past.

While that storm happened decades ago, the poem is a reminder of "new" attention to an "old" problem. The recent South Asian tsunami and the hurricanes ravaging the US Gulf Coast have brought the problems of life on seacoasts to public attention for a while. There is argument about whether human industrial and transport activities or entirely natural processes are bringing a rise in sea levels and more extremes in weather conditions. But the reality is that over a hundred Alaskan coastal villages and towns face significant erosion problems. Costs of relocation, abandonment, or reinforcement by sea walls are being debated. Obviously, the more populous coastal regions destroyed by tsunami and storm have received more attention, and people must decide whether and where to rebuild. The press now reports on "donor fatigue" as the shock of disaster fades and giving to aid agencies wanes. Agencies such as ECF consistently need support to help the displaced people in their areas of mission. Thus, the "old story" in this short poem is once again "new."

The poem came to hand in the form of an irregular or variant sonnet. It uses fourteen lines with five major stresses (or stressed syllables) per line. Both factors are expected in sonnet form.

The rhyme scheme at the ends of the lines, however, shows a mix of the patterns expected in the English and the Italian formats. The strict English or Shakespearean sonnet uses a rhyme scheme of ababceceefefgg, ending in a couplet. Commonly, the first twelve lines would pose a situation, and the closing two lines would give the response.

The strict Italian or Petrarchan sonnet would use a rhyme scheme of abbaabba in the first eight lines or octave, and the last six might use cdecde, or cdcdcd, or some other arrangement that does not end in a couplet. In content, the Italian sonnet commonly poses a situation in the first eight lines, and gives a response in the last six.

This issue's poem uses a rhyme pattern of abbacddc in the octave, the Italian manner of rhyming in the octave, but the second four lines of the eight uses a different pair of rhyming words. In the sestet, the poem uses three couplets - eeffgg. The shift of specific rhymes in the octave and the ending couplet are English sonnet traits. Thus, the poem mixes the traditional usages of rhyme in the sonnet traditions

The Village

Each year the village stands an autumn storm. The onshore gale winds thrash the rising tide, tumbling logs adrift from the bay's wide beaches into the river mouth to swarm, jammed and butting, a mile up the slough. Sucked out, they lunge and gouge the river bank, undermining another cabin or two. The rank sea water fouls the wells and spreading through the streets, sets all awash. Every year the winds and tide join force to slice and tear more ground away. But no one wants to move the village because it's difficult to improve on heritage, though all concede the day will come when tides will sluice it all away.

First published in POETRY/LA 11 (October 1985).


Philippines

Macau



1. Please pray for the 'Love Never Ends' TV program project in China. This is a special cooperative project between ECF Global Communication Center and China Christian Council to film some churches in China in order to provide the most up-to-date actual worship experience and Christian life in China. Ask God to provide the needed funds for this exciting work for the Lord's kingdom.

2. Please pray for the ECF Campus ministry among four university/college campuses in Southern California. Ask God to bless the up-coming Student Retreat at the ECF Big Bear House with about 40 university Chinese students so that some of them will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Please pray for New Church Planting of ECF in 2006. All ECF workers have been in earnest prayers for the last few months for this exciting outreach ministry among the new comers from China and Southeast Asia. Ask God to lead ECF to the right persons who would committee to this ministry.

4. Please pray for continued publication of the new Chinese magazine 'Global Rainbow' which is designed for the non-Christian Chinese families. ECF published a total of 9 issues since August 2004 and the response was most encouraging .Ask God to provide the needed funds to move into a new year in 2006.


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