Wow! If you know me much at all, you know that is a word I use a lot. In my limited vocabulary, what it means especially in this case is: incredible, amazing, wonderful, way cool, and thank you Jesus…in short “wow!” Our trip to Asia was overwhelming, educational, stirring, joyful, humbling, and more.
All total we traveled nearly 21,000 miles, flew in eleven different aircraft, rode buses, subways, taxis, and a bullet train.
One of our favorite verses is Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we could ask or even imagine…” We saw this come true from the beginning to the end of our trip!
Thank you for praying! We really mean it! THANK YOU FOR PRAYING! One dear friend wrote to us in an email before we left, that on this trip God was going to literally force us to trust in Him throughout our time. We definitely experienced that!
I could write pages about what we learned, how God directed, the people we were with, the faith and passion for God these people have, and our experience of being mentored on this trip by other leaders.
Where we taught on marriage communication and conflict resolving in love, there was a huge reception of our message, with invitations to return. People everywhere are struggling in their marriages, not surprising. Sadly however, they often have very little access to helpful resources, and virtually no models from whom to learn.
The First City
At our first stop, we had close to 100 people who came to four nightly meetings where Zerrin and I taught (via translators) how to process conflict in a manner that is governed by love. Then, during the day we met with eight couples who desired to go deeper with the material and share it with others.
By the end of our time together, we felt like family who didn’t want to part.
Couples had learned the process we teach and were already teaching others. One couple had had a fight the morning of our last day together, and at first didn’t want to come. But using the principles we teach they talked through what had happened, came back and shared with all of us. Later that same man shared that he felt like a “supernatural” transformation had taken place in him!
One by one, each of the eight couples shared how their relationship had been blessed by what they had learned, and were excited about sharing it with others. Before we left they formed a chat group with us included to continue building upon our time together.
The Second City
The time at our second stop was quite different, but just as amazing. There we taught morning, afternoon, and evening for three and a half days with the same group, of nearly 120 people packed into a room the size of our great room!
Though it was quite hot, even with two air conditioning units, I have never experienced a group more eager to learn. In this city, security was more of an issue. Many of the brothers and sisters there had been to prison for their faith, some of them on multiple occasions. It was a most humbling occasion. Who were we to speak into their lives?
Almost from the beginning of the teaching times, the people were sharing with us and each other – something we were told did not happen very often in their culture – but God was obviously at work in their lives. One man, while openly speaking of how his marriage had been suffering, broke down crying and reached out to grab my arm. Soon, we were both crying! Shortly afterward he asked forgiveness from his wife and they embraced. It was beautiful!
We later had the opportunity to meet with several leaders of this group to hear about their ministry and what they had learned from having been imprisoned because of their work for Christ. Their faith and walk was a huge challenge to ours!
We topped the trip off with two stops in Thailand. The first to see and encourage our dear friend Debby, who as a single woman, moved there to adopt a baby girl named Hannah Joy, and seek God in determining a potential long term call to minister to that nation. Both she and her daughter are an absolute delight! We loved every minute with them both.
Finally, the night before we began our trek home, we were able to spend a few hours at a Thai restaurant and mall, visiting Beauty – the English name – of one of the foreign exchange students we had had in our home 7 years ago. It was SO good to be able to see her again – and she still calls me “Dad” which of course warmed my heart!
Upon returning home, we are all the more challenged to reflect on the purpose for our existence and to live our lives with an other-centered focus. It is what the kingdom is all about!
Again, thanks so much for you love, support, and prayers. You are a very real blessing in our lives!
Mark & Zerrin
P.S. For those of you in the area who want to hear more, or just have a good excuse to get together, we are hosting an evening to share more and give God praise. Come join us July 31, at 7:30 pm at 2253 N. Richmond, Wichita, KS 67204