Browsing the archives for the Family News category

Saved by a Baby’s Cry

Adam's Updates

Here in South Korea it has been fascinating to hear the first-hand stories of families affected by the Korean War. Although there was much tragedy and suffering, there are also incredible stories of courage and commitment, and miraculous evidences of the Lord’s hand of care and protection during some of Korea’s darkest hours.

Last evening I was talking with Mrs. Kim over dinner, and she shared the story of her parent’s escape from North Korea during the Korean War. It was October of 1950, and Mrs. Kim’s father served in a public office in the city government in Yeon-an, a city near the border of South Korea. His supervisor perceived that the war was coming to a close, and the situation was becoming increasingly dangerous for people living in North Korea.

All men 18 and over were being conscripted to join the North Korean army, so this sympathetic supervisor worked to move his non-communist staff over the border to an office in South Korea. Mrs. Kim’s father took advantage of this opportunity, and successfully crossed over with his 15-year-old son, a daughter, a nephew and another boy on a “one week” leave.

Back in Yeon-an, Mrs. Kim’s mother was growing more and more concerned. The war dragged on and on as she struggled to care for her two daughters and 10-month old son. Growing rather indignant at her husband’s irresponsibility to leave her alone with the children, she began contemplating a risky escape to South Korea to join her husband. She concluded that it would be better to die trying to escape than to be left to raise a family with no husband and father in communist North Korea.

Courageously stepping out with two young daughters and a baby boy strapped to her back, she began the journey to join her husband. But traveling with children was not easy, and Mrs. Kim’s mother was caught by the North Korean soldiers. Charged with fleeing the country, they were immediately put in prison. The loud cries of the baby echoed through the prison into the night sky as they tried in vain to sleep that night.

But the Sovereign hand of God did not allow them to perish in imprisonment. That very night a senior Japanese officer just happen to visit the prison and heard the loud cries of the baby. Angry that they would be so cruel and heartless as to imprison a mother and baby, he sternly reprimanded the guards. I don’t care if they are trying to flee the country, he told them, you are to release them immediately!

Awed by this unexpected deliverance, the mother and children continued on to the coast where private boats were being used under cover of darkness to carry people over to South Korea. Trudging through the long mud flats with her children, they sought for a boat to take them over. But every time the other passengers saw them, they strongly objected. The baby that had saved them from prison was now a dangerous risk. If anyone made a sound during the crossing, everyone’s lives would be in jeopardy.

Back and forth across the mud flats the mother trudged, her hope fading. Physically exhausted, and in great pain from a broken wrist from a fall during their travels, the mother stared across the rippling waters into the blackness beyond. With no hope of a boat willing to carry them, there was no way they could make it. Perhaps she should just wade into the water and drown. “Mother, don’t die.” The small voice beside her startled the mother. How could her daughter have known her thoughts? Taking her daughter by the hand, she turned back to the mud flats to try again.

But the Lord had not forsaken them. He had a plan for their lives that was yet to be accomplished. Finding another boat in the darkness, the mother appealed to the captain for passage. She did not have the high price required, but she gave him everything she had. The older man looked with compassion at the mother and children, and over the objections of all the other passengers, agreed to take the family on board. And there the miracle happened. The baby slept peacefully and did not make a sound the whole night!

Going from just a few scattered verbal directions, the mother somehow located her husband and son, and what a joyful reunion it was! It seemed too good to be true, but the Lord had something even more wonderful in store for them. There in South Korea, one by one, the entire family came to Christ for salvation, and today Mrs. Kim and her husband are being used of the Lord in some very special ways.

What a blessing to see the hand of the Lord working through prior generations to preserve our lives and prepare us for the opportunities set before us! What an awesome responsibility to faithfully use what God has entrusted into our hands!

“You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom.
I hope you will make good use of it.” — John Quincy Adams

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A Visit to Mongolia

Adam's Updates, Family News, Mongolia

It was 1:15 in the morning when the boarding announcement came over the speakers at the Incheon airport in South Korea. I joined the crowd of weary travelers to board the plane for Mongolia. High winds that morning had delayed the plane coming over to Seoul, detaining our departure by seven hours. A rather frequent occurrence in the springtime, I gathered from my discussion with a Canadian businessman sitting beside me in the airport terminal.

Nevertheless I had much to be thankful for as I presented my boarding pass and made my way down the gate to the aircraft. Our travel agent in Korea had called our office to apprise us of the delay, so I had made the most of these extra hours before leaving for the airport with Mr. Moon.

The rest of my family had arrived in Mongolia at the end of March, but preparations for the first Korean Basic Seminar and related technical projects necessitated my continued efforts in the Korea office. But twelve days could be spared for a visit to Mongolia to spend some time with my family in this unique country. Lydia and Samuel would celebrate birthdays that week, and I know this season of life as a family is both brief and precious.

But the Lord had another blessing in store for me as I took my seat on the airplane. The lady next to me was on her way back to Mongolia from Tokyo with her two-year-old daughter. The poor little girl had been traveling for seventeen hours, and was completely exhausted. A family picture and some words of encouragement helped put the mother at ease, knowing that I was not bothered by her baby’s crying.

As our conversation turned to what my family was doing in Mongolia, the lady’s interest deepened. Gerelay said that she had seen in on TV how people would go to a [church] and they could just talk to God and share the burdens of their hearts. She wanted so much to do that, but didn’t know how.

Tears came to my eyes as I experienced the joy of sharing the good news of the Gospel to a longing soul that had never before heard why Jesus died! It seemed so wonderful that Jesus would take the punishment for the bad things we have done, so that we could be restored to a relationship with God. She wanted to visit our apartment and talk more, so I left her with some contact information.

Gerelay was thrilled to accept our invitation to come to church with us on Sunday, and asked if she could also bring her two sisters. It was her first time to attend a Christian church service, and the preaching was from the book of Acts, outlining one of Paul’s sermons. “Wow, that’s amazing!” she told me, “Those are the same things you were telling me on the airplane! Did you plan that?”

We invited Gerelay and her sisters to our home for lunch afterwards, and talked again for over an hour, sharing as clearly and simply as I could the message of the Gospel. It was all so new to them, but they were so hungry for the truth! Gerelay and her sister came back to join us for the evening church service, this time bringing her sister’s husband.

They came back again on Monday night for the Basic Seminar follow-up course and were impacted by the testimonies that were shared. One lady was a former Shaman, deeply involved in spirit worship, but had been set free from the fear and bondage of this false religion. Praise the Lord for His working through an airplane seating assignment to bring the light of the Gospel to a family so ready to hear the truth!

Time with family was wonderful! There was not much room at our place in Mongolia, so I rolled out a bed on the floor of the office each night. Quarters were small, but that had no relation to the ministry opportunities abounding all around us. Sarah and Samuel were teaching at a Korean Missionary Kids school two days a week, while Dad led the follow-up course meetings and Financial Freedom seminar.

Translation is under way for the Financial Freedom textbook, a manual outlining Christian principles for managing finances. Sodoo, one of our staff, explained to me that currently there is only one book available in the Mongolian language that talks about finances from a Christian perspective, so this comprehensive manual will be very helpful for Christians all over Mongolia as it explains concepts so different from those taught during 70 years of communism under Soviet rule.

20 Years of Christianity

During my visit I had the opportunity to attend a Christian Symposium event, marking the 20-year anniversary of Christianity in Mongolia. In just twenty years, the number of Christians has grown from almost zero to tens of thousands. It was touching to hear the testimonies of some of the pioneer missionaries that came to Mongolia in those early days.

After the fall of communism, the Russians pulled out in a single day, leaving the nation to fend for itself after 70 years of having the government provide everything for the people. Stores were empty, people would stand in line for hours to buy bread. Even the most basic medicines were all gone. And yet missionaries came, braving these difficult circumstances for the joy of bringing the Gospel to those who had never heard the name of Jesus.

Korean missionary Dr. Hwang told of being forced to move 40 times in those early years, and of having windows broken and stones thrown by Mongolians upset with foreigners disrupting their country and thrusting their nation into poverty by taking away socialism. But still the missionaries persisted, knowing that the love of Christ would ultimately win the hearts of the Mongolian people. Dr. Hwang’s voice broke with emotion, tears streaming down his cheeks, as he rejoiced to see this glorious day with hundreds of Mongolian pastors and Christian leaders gathered to thank God for His work over the last 20 years in Mongolia.

An Alaskan man came to present to the Mongolian Christian leaders the oldest known Mongolian Bible in existence today. This 1846 New Testament bears tribute to God's work in this nation over previous generations.

What made the event so touching was that we knew a number of these people. In the slide show we saw pictures of Pastor Enkhee, a bold Christian leader in the early days that had preached at Isaac’s funeral, and Pastor Dugermaa that prayed over us as we left in 2007. Officiating the event was Batjargal, the director of a Christian radio station where I had participated in some radio broadcasts in 2004. It was this man that drove our family out to the burial site for Isaac on the day of the funeral.

It was also a joy to see Ewen, the man that I had helped some years ago to make the Mongolian Bible available electronically for the first time in Mongolia. He is now on the committee for the Mongolian Bible Society, and working hard to finalize an important revision for the Mongolian translation. Right now there are no Bibles left to be purchased in Mongolia, and Ewen and a handful of others are working as hard as they can to finalize some typesetting issues so that more Bibles can be printed and brought in to Mongolia.

Video Highlights

Here are some brief video clips from the Symposium.

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Rick Leatherwood and his wife were some of the first missionaries to arrive in Mongolia in the early 90’s. Rick went on to oversee the team that translated the Mongolian Bible used by most of their churches today. The translation was completed in 2000, and a container of 10,000 Bibles was brought in for the people of Mongolia. Within 24 hours, they had completely sold out.

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Margret Currie came to Mongolia in the early days when food was difficult to obtain. In this video excerpt, she shares some of their experiences trying to purchase eggs. Margret went on to be involved in a prison ministry, reaching out to men in prison that were dying of starvation and exposure while doing forced labor in the rock quarries.

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This missionary from Austria shares some of her firsthand experiences in Germany and Mongolia. These are the kind of stories that you don’t hear from the media! Her whole message was excellent, but I was only able to capture the last four minutes in this video.

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Easter Memories

Adam's Updates, Family News

If you had asked me last Saturday morning what I planned to do for Easter, I would have had no idea that the next morning I would be folding up a blanket on top of an air mattress 160 miles south in the little town of Waegwan, and heading out to Camp Carroll Army Base for an Easter Sunrise service.

But the Lord knew much much I needed that little encouragement, and had already been preparing the way. James Staddon, a friend from West Virginia arrived here in Korea just a few days before the rest of my family flew over to Mongolia at the end of March. I stayed back to work on some pressing projects at the Korea office, and James came to help with some design work that was also needing to be finished.

Enjoying good fellowship in our work together, James and I also took time for the occasional hike in the mountains and visit to the Korean War Memorial. James’ father had served in the US Air Force and was stationed at the Osan Air Base a few years after the close of the Korean War.

This was James’ first visit to Korea, and seeing the Osan Air Base was one of the things that he wanted to do during his month here. In the Lord’s providence, it just so happened that James learned of a good friend in the US Army that was currently stationed in South Korea, and James and I were thrilled to accept Andy’s invitation to visit the Osan Air Base.

The date was set for April 23rd, and James spent some hours poring over Korean subway maps, working out the 40 mile route to Osan. The adventure of traveling public transportation in a foreign country is hard to understand unless you have been there, but it definitely adds to the excitement. Most of the signs, announcements and instructions are in Korean, so you learn to be a keen observer of others and piece together what information you can find.

Meeting Andy and Renae at the main gate, James and I were escorted onto the Base. This was my first time on a US military base, and I was amazed at the size and well-kept condition of the premises. It was like being in a little America.  🙂  The sidewalks were level, the streets free of trash, and people pumped their own gas at the gas station. They even had American restaurants built right on the Base!

Andy and Renae treated us to lunch at Chili’s. Whew! I hadn’t eaten a lunch like that in six months! Afterwards Andy drove us around the base and showed us the airfield. James also wanted to see the chapel where his Dad had attended years ago, so our tour continued up and down the little streets of the Base.

The Chapel

With perhaps 20,000 people at the base, I guess I was a little taken aback by the chapel. A small sparsely maintained building probably built in the ’70s stood in stark contrast to the large modern churches seen all over Korea. 20,000 people serviced by a chapel that seats 281? What does this say about the spiritual interests of the sons of the very nation that brought the Gospel to Korea?

Sitting down with Andy and Renae for a soda after our tour, I began to get a little more of a picture of the hunger for real spiritual fellowship so often faced by Christians serving in overseas military bases. In a year and a half that Andy and Renae have been in Korea, they have only had one American visitor to their home.

“Oh, we should have planned ahead and had you guys come down to our home for Easter!” Renae remarked. Andy’s eyes met mine as he inquired, “Do you have plans for tomorrow?” I looked across at James. No, we didn’t have any particular responsibilities… We hadn’t exactly prepared for an overnight stay, but I knew the fellowship would be mutually encouraging, -and a grand adventure for James.  🙂

Extending the Adventure

A few minutes of discussion and a phone call confirmed the decision, and James and I climbed into Andy’s Ford Escape for the three hour drive south to Camp Carroll Army Base near Daegu. Andy works at Camp Carroll, but makes occasional trips up to the much larger Osan base for supplies not available locally.

The time passed quickly as James and Andy reminisced on their times together years ago, and Andy went on to share about his experiences as an officer in the Army. I asked him how he was able to stay strong as a Christian during his time in the Service, and found his answer of particular interest.

Spiritual Survival in the Service

A. Put your flag down as a Christian. Be the first to let your comrades know that you are a Christian.

B. Let your light shine. Clean language will be the first thing that others notice. Know what you believe, and be prepared to share with others.

C. Get in fellowship. Get involved in a Bible study where you can have regular times of spiritual fellowship and accountability with other guys. This is essential. Without this fellowship, you will not be able to make it.

Both Andy and James’ father had been greatly benefited by ministry of the Navigators, a Christian ministry that majors on discipleship and personal spiritual growth.

It was nearly 10 PM when we arrived at the apartment, so we settled down for the night, setting my alarm for 5:30 for the Easter sunrise service. The next morning I stepped out into the chilly morning air, thankful for the borrowed coat, and Andy escorted us onto the Base. We joined about 60 others on cold concrete benches in the outdoor amphitheater.

Sunrise Service in Korea

Slowly rising in the eastern horizon, the sun began casting golden beams over the top of the building as we sang about that glorious morning 2,000 years ago. As the chaplain reached the close of his message, the sunlight had descended to illuminate the rough wooden cross, now decorated with flowers. It was a moment to remember.

Returning to Andy and Renae’s home for breakfast, we enjoyed more fellowship together before setting off on a drive through the nearby mountains. Spectacular views for a young man that spent most of his years in the American Midwest, the mountains were much larger and extensive than those near our office in Gimpo.

Purchasing train tickets for our return journey proved to be a little more complicated of an endeavor than I initially anticipated. The electric Metro trains are cheaper than the diesel express lines, so I was trying to figure out the cheapest route by connecting to one of the Metro lines half-way to Seoul.

Sitting in the back of the office at a conference table with a few of the station workers, I figured out what was making my metro map so difficult for these men. I had one of the rare multi-lingual English ones, but the other names were in Chinese, not Korean. Noticing our delay, Andy came in and helped us obtain the needed tickets. It would be standing room only for the second half of the ride, but the train would take us all the way to Seoul.

Winding through the mountains and thundering through tunnels, the train ride gave a fascinating panorama of the South Korean countryside. What a special way to spend Easter! I am so grateful for the kind hospitality of Andy and Renae, and the beautiful weather the Lord afforded us for the trip. This was an Easter that I will not soon forget!

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Back Home – In Mongolia

Family News

Part of Ulanbaatar as seen from the airplane window

On Tuesday, March 29 we landed in a Country which we have not been in for 3 ½ years! Finally, but, at the Lord’s perfect timing we have returned to the rustic, yet beautiful Country of Mongolia, to serve for the next three months.

Leaving Adam behind to continue serving in South Korea, pressing toward the completion of the first, complete Korean Basic Seminar and working on other projects, Sarah, Samuel, Lydia, Rebecca, Matthew, Mom and Dad all arrived safe in Mongolia.

These last few days have been full ones as we have jumped into various projects, as well as just continuing with the normal duties of day to day life.

I had not mentally prepared for the “culture shock” that was awaiting me in Mongolia. Coming straight from a clean atmosphere and large living space in Korea to Mongolia, I was reminded of just how dirty everything is here! I had also remembered the rooms being larger, and so, was surprised to find them as small as they really are! However, after living in them for a few days you kind of ‘grow’ (or shrink) into the space, and learn how to use each little nugget of the space you do have.

There have been comments made as to the cuteness of our kitchen. Indeed it is small but, it suits all of our needs. It is almost like playing house! Here is a picture showing Rebecca and I making Homemade Tortillas.

I had not mentally prepared either for how long it takes to cook here! It took me most of the day to cook the meals just for that day! Things take longer when you are not used to the surroundings but, I think it takes longer here, even for a pot of water to boil and cook the vegetables! Someone mentioned that this is what family life used to be like. Imagine living back in the 1800 or early 1900’s. Your whole life revolved around preparing the food you were going to eat, getting the firewood for your stove and doing the necessary duties of life. Mongolia is a great place to build character!

Some of you may be wondering, “What is the weather like?” Well, this was another thing I thought would be different when we came. I thought it would be cold! However, we have had beautiful sunny weather, with a crisp cool spring feel. It still is a bit chilly but, not the frigid cold of winter.

One of our first celebrations after retuning to Mongolia was Matthew’s 13th Birthday! We celebrated with Hoshor (A Mongolian food that is meat (or sometimes vegetables) inside of a bread pocket that has been fried.) and a cake, from a bakery that we had done trainings for when our family was here before. One of our translators had a birthday recently, so we took a picture of her with the cake as well.

God has brought our family here at this time for a specific reason. We may not fully know the impact until Eternity.

One of the verses my Dad received before we left Korea and came to Mongolia was, “…Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” ~1 Corinthians 2:9. Based on this, I believe that God has great things that He is going to accomplish through our family being here at this time.

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for the Mongolian Basic Seminar next week. This is the third one to be done in the Mongolian Language. Pray that many will come and have their lives impacted.
  • Our family as we continue to adjust to life in Mongolia.

Thank you for praying for our family as we minister around the globe!

In Christ,

Sarah Waller

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A First Grandchild!

Family News, Rachelle & Joseph

On January 30th, 9:15 PM, Rachelle and Joseph Afarian had the joy of experiencing the birth of their first child! Arranging for a home birth with the assistance of two skilled midwives, Rachelle and Joseph were thankful to report a very smooth birth process.

Serena Grace Niaree Afarian

Entering the world at 8 pounds, 4 ounces (3.74kg), Serena Grace measured 20.5 inches long (52cm) and has light brown hair. Early reports indicated that she looks a bit like Rachelle’s younger siblings David or Sarah. Rachelle and Joseph (with family and others) described her as being exceptionally beautiful and very expressive in her facial expressions.

Some interesting notes about her name… “Serena Grace” is her first name, meaning peaceful love. Her middle name Niaree is of ancient Armenian origin, reflecting Joseph’s Armenian heritage, and carries the concepts of beauty and femininity.

Mother, father and baby are all doing very well, rejoicing together in this special new season of parenthood. Grandma and Grandpa Waller (Sue and Brian) and all of us aunts and uncles are thrilled for Rachelle and Joseph! Although we are thousands of miles away on the other side of the world, the pictures and phone calls seem to make that distance shorter.

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I know everyone loves to see pictures, so I have included a few more for you to enjoy…

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Blessings in Jeju

Adam's Updates, Family News

The airplane shuddered and tilted back and forth as it descended toward the airport on Jeju Island, 50 miles south of the Korean peninsula. Peering through the window we could see the surf breaking against the rocky shore, stirred by the snowstorm brewing below us. Mr. Moon and I had been invited to teach at several church meetings over the weekend, but it appeared that the rare snowstorm on this tropical island might make it difficult to land the aircraft.

Suddenly the humming jet engines switched to full power mode, and amid a few gasps from passengers, we were tilted back in our seats as the plane pulled up in a steep climb. Moments later, the intercom crackled on, and the pilot explained that the airport was reporting high winds from the snowstorm, and for safety reasons he had carefully executed a missed approach.

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I turned to Mr. Moon with a look of concern, for our first meeting was scheduled to begin in an hour… Mr. Moon explained that the pilot was going to try a second attempt to land. The experience of the pilot can make a big difference, and we were blessed with a very skilled pilot with 30 years of flying experience.

We held our breath as again the plane descended into the storm. I could picture the concentration of the pilot working intently to steady the plane against the turbulent crosswind. Now we could clearly see the houses and trees as we descended to a few hundred feet above the ground on the final approach to the runway.

But again we felt the aircraft drop as a sudden gust of wind suddenly pushed us down, and again the pilot pulled up for a second missed approach. The wind was at 50mph, exceeding the safety rating of the aircraft. “Safety is our first priority”, the pilot explained, as he turned the plane to head back to the Gimpo airport that we had left an hour before.

What about the meeting we were supposed to be at? What about the people that were waiting for us? Would we even be able to get on a later flight? These questions raced through my mind, but having no way to contact the church, all we could do was pray that the Lord would work things out.

But the Lord indeed was working things out, as little as we could realize it at the time. Arriving at the Gimpo airport, we found that that church had already called ahead, canceled the original tickets, and made arrangements for us to return on a larger aircraft. Quickly transferring our bags, we rushed to the gate, only to find that the plane was still awaiting clearance to leave.

Suddenly the authorization was given, and the crowd of passengers rushed to board the aircraft. We all knew that this was probably our only chance to make it to Jeju that evening. An hour later, all was quiet as the aircraft descended toward the Jeju airport. It was dark now, but the larger Airbus A300 was handling the wind a little better. With a sigh of relief we felt the plane contact the runway and come to a stop on the tarmac.

Leaving the aircraft, I could feel the ice crunching under my feet as the blowing snow whipped across our faces. With snow, ice and wind like that, I was amazed that they had managed to land the airplane. Later we learned that just after our flight left Gimpo, every single flight to Jeju was canceled! And on top of that, Mr. Moon told me that we had been allowed to purchase the very last tickets available for that flight!

With the hand of the Lord so evident in our travels, we began our meetings with a distinct expectation that God must have some very special purposes in store for this trip.

A Pastor’s Vision

By now it was after 8:00 PM, and a core group of people from the church greeted us in the meeting room. Taking off our shoes at the entry, we joined the people sitting on the heated floor around short tables. I am still not flexible enough to comfortably tuck my knees under the table, so I tried not to be too much of a distraction as I periodically shifted my position from one side to the other.

Adjusting our plans for the change in schedule, Mr. Moon shared an introduction to the importance of building good character into our lives. Everyone enjoyed a group activity as we had them match the most important character qualities to various occupations. (Students need determination, dentists need gentleness, husbands need sensitivity, politicians need virtue, etc…)

Meeting the senior pastor the next morning before the Sunday service, we were impressed with his vision for the church. “We need to reach the next generation,” he explained, “We need to build strong families so that the next generation can be strong for the Lord.”

I sat back in my chair with amazement. So many churches today are focusing on building programs and outreach initiatives, while at the same time losing their own children to the world because of unresolved conflicts in the home. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, we tend to focus most of our energy on theological knowledge with very little practical application to daily life.

But here we were seeing something different; a senior pastor with a heart to learn and apply God’s ways, starting in his own life, and then in the lives of the church leadership, and then with their congregation.

Mr. Moon rejoiced to hear that the very topic he would be speaking about that afternoon was something that the Lord had impressed on the heart of the pastor over the past several months. Not only had God blessed our travels, but the Holy Spirit had truly gone before us and answered prayer by preparing hearts in a way that we never could have done.

Sharing from the testimony of his own life, Mr. Moon explained the vital importance of hearing the heart of his wife. While serving as a missionary in Egypt, he was so busy doing “God’s work” during the day that he would come home exhausted, and too tired to really hear his wife’s heart. But the Lord convicted him that he needed to lay down his life for his wife, even as Christ laid down his life for the church.

As Mr. Moon tried to obey the Lord’s direction in this area, he began to have a whole new appreciation for his wife and her counsel. Their relationship has deepened greatly since that time, and he has come to value her as a precious gift from the Lord.

Listening with great interest to this message, the pastor’s wife talked this over with her husband later that evening. “Let’s talk together,” she appealed to her husband. Even though he was tired from a long day of meetings, the pastor focused with renewed attentiveness as his wife shared from her heart.

For several hours late into the night they experienced the joy of resolving issues that for ten and twenty years had been obstacles in their relationship. “I was the one that received the greatest benefit from this weekend!” was the happy testimony of Pastor Kim the next morning.

A Turning Point

At the conclusion of our afternoon meetings, the assistant pastor was wrapping up some final details before taking us to dinner. Just before leaving, Mr. Moon told me that the pastor had arranged for a meeting that evening with the pastors and music leaders, and he wanted us to talk about good music, expanding on our discussion over lunch.

My heart trembled as I heard this. Yes, I see and understand the vital importance of right music, but I also know that this is one of the most controversial subjects in the church today, and discussions usually result in vicious opposition and tear churches apart with strong opinions on both sides.

Knowing that this is not a discussion to be won on an intellectual level, I prayed that God would give wisdom in how to appeal to the conscience and support their church vision. One of the elders took us out to a fancy sushi restaurant, but as I ate my fish head soup, raw octopus, my thoughts were on how to most effectively share about music principles.

After dinner we gathered in a meeting room with the pastors and church leaders, and the pastor talked with Mr. Moon about how they can emphasize principles of character in their church. The music director was there, but sitting back a little way from the table and not participating quite as much in the discussion. Silently I prayed that God would give us favor in the hearts of these leaders as we brought a difficult, but important message.

Turning to me, the senior pastor asked if I could share with everyone about music. Reaching for a piece of paper, I turned with a smile to the eager, interested eyes around the table. “God designed each of us in three parts,” I began, drawing three circles on the paper. We have a spirit, soul, and body. Our spirit is what is born again when we are saved, and our soul is the home of our mind, will and emotions.

Explaining these in more detail, I asked which one they thought was the most important. Everyone agreed that it would be the spirit. That is exactly right, I told them, God wants us to worship Him in spirit and truth. Godly music will minister to our spirit, encouraging us with the truth of God’s Word.

Music also affects our soul. I get excited in my emotions when I sing about God’s power and majesty, and what He has done in my life. And we also praise God with our body, singing with our voices to the Lord. Right music will bring the strongest focus on ministering to our spirit, while also involving our soul and body.

Looking around, it was clearly evident that God was working by His Holy Spirit to bring this message home to the hearts. The pastor was taking page after page of notes, and everyone was nodding in agreement. I sensed the Lord’s enabling to share these principles with great clarity. As I paused for Mr. Moon to translate each thought, the next one would come together in my mind with a clearness I could only attribute to the Lord’s working.

“Now let me show you a contrast,” I continued. “What kind of music would represent the world?” We talked about the worldly rock music of the 60’s. What was the strongest emphasis in this music? It was focused on the sensual passions of the body, and designed to stimulate the emotions to a wild excitement.

But what about the spirit? The spirit is the home of conscience, and rock music was designed to be played at volumes so loud it would drown out the voice of conscience. God doesn’t want us to drown out the voice of conscience and try to suppress guilt. He wants to resolve guilt so He can speak to us through a still small voice in our spirit.

Do you see the contrast? The world’s music is just the opposite of God’s design. Now do you suppose that the music of the Christian should be different than the music of the world? Yes, they definitely affirmed this. That is exactly what we read in the Psalms, where David talks about the Lord putting a new song in his mouth, even praise to the Lord.

Returning to my diagram, I explained the three parts of music, the melody, the harmony, and the rhythm. Which one of these should be dominant? They all pointed out the melody. Yes, and the harmony supports the melody, and the rhythm gives life to the music.

But what does rock music focus on? Again, we find it just the opposite. The rhythm is dominant with a driving beat, and chords are being played, sometimes with no real melody at all. “Now notice a correlation,” I continued, and pointed out how the melody ministers to our spirit, the harmony inspires our emotions, and rhythm appeals to our body.

In my observation, much of our music in churches across America today does very little to minister to the spirit, but is instead focused on creating an emotional response. You can get a youth group excited in their emotions on Sunday, but then have them go out and live in defeat through the rest of the week because they were not strong in their spirit.

“But I see an even deeper issue with this,” I went on. “Could I share with you something further?” “Yes, yes!” the senior pastor exclaimed, momentarily raising his pen from his paper. Deep in thought, the others leaned forward in interest.

God’s Word tells us that we should not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. But we see Satan using the same tactics that he has used through history. When the nation of Israel came into the Promised Land it was like Satan tried to destroy them with powerful armies, but ultimately failed because God defended and protected His people.

Then Satan changed tactics. Since he could not defeat them as a roaring lion, he became like an angel of light. In the account of Baalam, we see that Baalam could not curse God’s people to destroy them, but led them astray into idolatry and immorality with the Moabites. This brought the judgment of God upon Israel, and in the generations following, thousands of God’s people were destroyed through these compromises with the world.

Take a look at the nation of Korea. When we toured the Korean war memorial museum, we saw the advance of the North Korean army until South Korea was reduced to just a small section on the tip of the peninsula. It was like Satan was using brute force and military power in a desperate attempt to crush Christianity in this land.

But I firmly believe that it was not the United States that saved Korea. It was not the United Nations that saved Korea. I believe it was God that saved Korea, and preserved His people against the attack of the enemy. Christianity could not be extinguished, and has since blossomed and flourished.

But now it seems that Satan has changed tactics again. Since he could not overcome with force, he is working to defeat Christians through compromise with the world. If he can defeat the Christians in their personal lives and families, they would lose their influence and witness to the world.

I am thrilled to see the vision of your church to reach the next generation! We want to do all we can to see them be strong for the Lord, knowing that they will be the leaders of families and churches in years to come.

But today there are temptations and pressures facing young people that were not there in my generation. When I was a boy, my parents were very careful about the things they allowed in our home, and the kinds of information we had access to. But today we have the Internet in almost every home, and children are a few clicks away from the most evil things. The only way we can protect them is to help them become mighty in spirit.

Scripture tells us that the flesh wars against the spirit. Sowing to the flesh brings death, but sowing to the spirit brings life. This is where it relates back to music. Music has a powerful influence in our lives, but it is either feeding the flesh or feeding the spirit. What kind of music will help the next generation to be strong in spirit?

As I looked around the table, every person seemed deeply interested. I did not sense any strong reaction, but rather a genuine hunger for truth. The education pastor raised her hand to ask a question, but the senior pastor looked up from his fresh stack of notes, and said “No, wait.” Then looking at me, he said, “Keep going.”

The scene made me think of a picture out of the book of Acts. Never have I seen such openness to truth on such a sensitive issue! They were like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, receiving the words with an open mind, and studying them out to see if these things were so.

Mr. Moon went on to explain many more things in detail, and the pastor closed the meeting at about 10:15 PM. Upon returning to our hotel room for the evening, Mr. Moon and I knelt in prayer to thank God for the incredible moving of the Holy Spirit that we had just witnessed. Truly God had prepared their hearts!

A Visit to Remember

On Monday morning we were joined by several other pastors and discussed how a church can focus on developing Godly character in the lives of their people. In this meeting it was like the senior pastor was taking the lead, emphasizing to the other pastors that we don’t need more ministries and programs, we need to strengthen the families in our churches.

Focusing on character is not about implementing another program, but about changing the lives of people as they apply principles of God’s Word to practical daily living. Most of the discussion was in Korean, but Mr. Moon stopped occasionally to summarize for me what was being discussed.

Following our meeting, we had lunch at a Korean restaurant where the wife of the assistant pastor works. We sat cross-legged on the floor around the low tables in typical Korean style. This time we ate duck, frying it on the stone slab in the center of the table. They all thought something was very funny about how I trimmed the fat off my meat before eating it, but the comments were in Korean, so I never figured it out.

On the way to the airport we stopped by the sea side to take a few pictures. It was a new experience to climb across the lava rock to the shore where the waves were crashing against the rock, sending a spray of water into the air. But our time was brief, and we needed to head to the airport to catch our return flight.

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God is doing a wonderful work in this church, and may the Lord greatly bless Pastor Kim and the Choong-shin church as they take steps to follow the Lord’s ways in these vital areas!

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Merry Christmas!

Adam's Updates, Family News

A Year to Remember

This has been an exciting year for the Waller family, with probably the biggest news being the return of our family to overseas ministry after three years in the States. Although we would have liked to return to Mongolia, changes in the government have made it much more difficult to obtain the required paperwork, so we were invited to join the work in South Korea, and possibly visit Mongolia in April, 2011.

We are very grateful for David and Derrick taking time away from busy schedules and pressing responsibilities to join the rest of the family for three weeks over the Christmas holiday! David will return to his work at IBLP headquarters, and Derrick to his construction and farming projects.

A Family Investment

This year my Dad reached the age where he could withdraw his 401K retirement without a penalty, and we were praying about a wise way to invest these funds in a way that could benefit future generations. In April we were contacted by a distant relative that was selling a farm in Harris, MN, and wanted to give us the first opportunity for purchase, if we were interested.

We witnessed another miracle of the Lord’s provision as we pooled together Dad’s 401K money, and some of our personal funds (not touching any of our ministry funds) and were able to buy the 115-acre farm for cash!

Just three miles off highway 35, the Harris farm is in a beautiful rural area near some lakes and surrounded by other farms. Like our Wisconsin farm, the house is very old, but functional, and the land would provide some excellent building sites if we chose to build in the future.

A New Direction

As I described in more detail in a previous article, my Dad and Derrick were unexpectedly laid off from ESD at the end of June. Economic difficulties had forced the company to release some of their workers, but for us, I personally believe that this was the hand of the Lord, preparing us for a new direction as a family.

During the past three years of working in Chicago, the Lord allowed my Dad to replenish the funds needed for our family to again head back overseas for a time of ministry to the people of Korea and Mongolia. As another blessing from our time in the States, my Dad was able to have hip replacement surgery in February, alleviating a painful limp.

South Korea

Three years ago our family was serving in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where Tim Levendusky directed CTI-Mongolia, an NGO established to teach principles of character to the people of Mongolia. Recovering from 70 years of Communism under Russian rule, the people warmly welcomed teaching on principles of responsibility, truthfulness, forgiveness, sincerity, etc.

After our family left Mongolia, a new office in South Korea was needing assistance, and Tim was asked to make South Korea his primary location, while making occasional trips across to Mongolia. With the present needs in South Korea and the visa difficulties in Mongolia, Tim invited our family to join the work in South Korea for a season of ministry as a family.

We are currently involved in training seminars and publications development, but our primary focus is the completion of the IBLP Basic Seminar translation which is scheduled to be finished in the spring. I believe the many Christians in South Korea will be greatly benefited by the practical application of Biblical truth as presented in this seminar.

A Special Visit

Amid some touching scenes, our family has had the opportunity here in Korea to thank some of the ones that helped our family during the passing of Isaac in 2005. A few days ago we visited the Yonsei Severance hospital where Isaac was brought by ambulance from the airplane. The Director of International Missions met with us and remembered taking time with my parents five years ago.

Expecting!

Rachelle and Joseph announced this summer that they are expecting their first child, due at the end of January. Now Mom and Dad are grandparents! Rachelle and Joseph are doing well, and visited us several times this year, most notably for a joint vacation in August to the Northwoods retreat center in Michigan where they first met.

North Korea Tensions

Our family lives in an apartment building in the city of Gimpo, northwest of Seoul, about twelve miles from the North Korean border. Although the Yeonpyeong Island shelling took place about 50 miles to the west of us, we feel safe knowing that God will take care of us. We have actually recently had some opportunities to do some character trainings for chaplains and soldiers of the South Korean forces.

A Writing Project

Drawing upon their experience in teaching character in the Oklahoma City public schools for the past two years, Sarah and Samuel are currently working to produce a Bible-based character curriculum for Sunday Schools and Kindergartens in Korea. The first booklet went to press just before Christmas, and will be used in January. They are working to produce one booklet for each month of 2011, to coincide with the monthly character emphasis on the character calendar produced by IBLP Korea.

More Pictures

Below are a few more pictures to enjoy.

 

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Rice Harvest

Family News

Ever since I was a boy I have enjoyed eating rice, but I had never seen how it was grown, or how it looks in a field. Now that I am living in South Korea, I can see rice fields from the window of my apartment, and I am learning more about the growing of this staple food.

Like many Asian countries, South Korea uses rice as the primary food source, and most Koreans eat rice at all three meals every day. Rice is typically eaten with small side dishes, usually including a spicy cabbage food called kimchi.

One day when I was out enjoying a walk with Tim Levendusky by the rice fields, we came upon a rice harvester that was working its way through a rice field near our apartment complex. I stopped to take some pictures, and capture a couple video clips. Later after my family arrived in Korea, we walked through a harvested rice field, and had a chance to find some actual rice that had been missed by the machine.

Harvesting Rice

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It was fascinating to see this machine make its way around the rice field. The front of the machine looks like a giant hair clippers, and the clipped off portion of the rice plant passes up a conveyor to a system that appears to work similar to a combine harvester, removing the rice grains, and leaving the stalks and chaff in a neat row behind.

Technical Difficulties

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Rounding the far corner of the field, something seems to have gone wrong and the rice plants started bunching up on the side of the machine. The operator stopped the machine, and the men worked to clear the jam.

Below you can see some more pictures of the rice fields and some close-up shots of rice still on the stalk. Enjoy the pictures!

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New Direction

Adam's Updates

Saturday, October 30th, 2010
Gimpo City, South Korea

Dear Family and Friends,

June 30th, 2010, is a date that will long live in my memory. It started just like any other day as I got up at 5, drove my Dad and Derrick to the train station to catch the 5:55 train, and headed into the office to have my personal quiet time before the beginning of the work day. By the afternoon, work projects were in full swing as I worked through another busy day of technical support issues, meetings and phone calls.

Picking up Dad at Hinsdale Train Station

“Adam, your Dad called,” one of my coworkers told me as I returned to my desk. “He said that you won’t need to pick him up from the train today, and asked if you could give him a call.” I was already on my way to another meeting, and the work day was over before I had the chance to return his call, little expecting the news awaiting me at home.

In 2007 our family had returned to the States after two years of serving together in Mongolia, and the Lord again showed His faithfulness in providing my Dad with an excellent job in downtown Chicago. The blessing of the Lord was supremely evident in the favor that my Dad was given as he returned to electrical engineering work at ESD, a company that he had worked at for nine years when our family lived in the Chicago area.

Even though the ecconomy was struggling, and many others were seeking jobs at the time, it was like the Lord was giving us a living demonstration of His promise that as we seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, all these things would be added unto us. -God Himself would undertake to provide for our needs.

But as I came in the door that June evening, Derrick met me with a sober expression on his face, and explained that he and Dad had just been let go from their jobs at ESD. Feeling a little numb with shock, I went upstairs and found Dad and Mom sitting at the dining room table. Dinner was strangely quiet that evening as we all sat processing the unexpected news.

But looking at my Dad’s face, I saw something different. There was a joy and confidence, almost an excitement about what God was going to do next. In the days and weeks that followed, the deeper purposes behind the timing of this unexpected change began to come to light.

When God brought Elijah into the wilderness during a great drought, Elijah was sustained by the ravens and brook. But when the time came for Elijah to move on, God didn’t send an angel with a message, He simply dried up the brook.

God was doing something, and we continued to pray for direction. Was God wanting my Dad to take another job, or was the Lord opening the way for us to return to the mission field? During the three years of working in Chicago, my Dad was enabled to replenish the funds needed to go back out, but we were just seeking the Lord’s confirmation on the timing of our return.

Several months of job applications, resume’s and interviews with engineering firms seemed to indicate that the Lord has closed this door, and my Dad took several days in special prayer for direction. On the final day, he received an unexpected e-mail from Tim and Angie, the couple we had served with in Mongolia, asking if we had any thoughts or plans on returning to overseas work.

After this and other confirmations, the details seemed to fall into place rather rapidly, and a few weeks later we had booked tickets for eight of us to fly to South Korea, where Tim and Angie have based their work in South Korea and Mongolia. Working with IBLP, their vision is to strengthen and Christians and families with sound Biblical teaching, such as IBLP’s Basic Seminar.

IBLP Headquarters

My own responsibilities at IBLP as IT Director were transitioned over to Robert Staddon, a good friend and coworker, and I chose September 17 as my last day. It was hard to leave so many good friends, but I know that God has called me to overseas work, so I feel a special joy in returning to the place God has called me.

Arriving in Korea on October 20th, I have been learning all I can from Tim and Angie before they fly back to the United States on November 6th, where they will take several months to visit family and friends with their new baby Josiah. Because my family will arrive after they leave, I felt that these two weeks of overlap with Tim and Angie would be very helpful as our family makes the adjustment to life in Korea.

We would be grateful for your prayers as we enter into this new season of ministry as a family!

In Christ,

– Adam

View from our Apartment in Korea

 

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Rachelle and Joseph’s Wedding

Family News, Rachelle & Joseph

joseph-and-rachelleWe are delighted to announce the marriage of Rachelle Waller to Joseph Afarian, a research lawyer from Toronto, Canada.

Joseph and Rachelle met in the Fall of 2007 at a Christian young adult retreat in Michigan. After months of careful correspondence with our parents, Joseph entered into a courtship with Rachelle with our parents’ and family’s full blessing.

A strong Christian with conservative Biblical values, Joseph joins Rachelle with a vision for raising the foundations of many Godly generations.

Engaged in April of 2009, Joseph and Rachelle were be married on August 1st, 2009 in Minneapolis, MN.

Date and Location

Cross of GloryThe wedding was held at 2 pm on August 1st, 2009 at the Cross of Glory Lutheran Church, the same church where our parents, Brian and Sue Waller were married nearly 35 years ago.

Church Address:

5929 Brooklyn Blvd
Brooklyn Center, MN 55429
(763) 533-8602

Click here for map and directions

 

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