We are headed out for Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in a couple of hours. Pastor Ben will be coming back to the States while some of the other AMI pastors and I will be going to Shanghai.
Yesterday, as we were waiting for everyone to meet downstairs for dinner, I struck up a conversation with one of the porters in the lobby. As soon as I realized that he was able to speak English fairly well, I asked him if religion was practiced here in Vietnam. He said that people were all Buddhist and then I asked him if there was a church in the area. He pointed to a Catholic church a block down from the hotel. Then I asked, “Do you know of any Christians?” I was shocked when he responded by saying, “I do not know what that word means.” I told him that “Christians” are “people that go to church,” which by the way is a bad definition, but instead of giving a theologically correct answer, I tried to keep it simple.
He responded by saying, “No, I do not know of any.” Then the Holy Spirit gave me a revelation. Sometimes people are not introduced to the Gospel because there is no visible and viable representation of Christ. This reaffirmed a conviction that I have held for some time now – “people need to see Christ and the Gospel in us.” Is this what Apostle Paul said in 2 Co 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” The ramifications are clear: 1) We have to become more like Christ; 2) We have to daily live out the Gospel message; 3) We have to mix and mingle with people who do not know Christ.
This morning we met up with a house church member who owned a ceramic company. They gather together as a church and worship upstairs in one of their stores. He gave us a tour of his company – we actually got to see the manufacturing of various pottery. It was a pretty cool experience because to see the transformation of rocks turned into a beautiful vase reminded me of God’s transforming work in our lives.
One thing that stood out for me was when the owner told us that when the ceramic is still soft, you can shape it and fix all the faults. But when it goes through the fire and hardens, then it is permanent. The only way to redo it is when you break the pottery and then put it through the process again.
I could not help but to think about God being the Potter and how we are just mere clay. How many times have we resisted God’s molding and shaping? We can only be usable when we go through the fire.
Here are some pictures from the ceramic company:
One of the workers molding the clay on the potter’s wheel
Pottery ready to be painted
Painting the pottery
In the sea of pots – you break it, you pay for it
Pastor Graydon and me in front of the pots after it came out of the furnace – it was still hot.
Then the packaging to be shipped out
Just in case you didn’t see where it would be shipped to – oh the joys of globalization!