Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
In September of 2014 our family had the amazing privilege to travel "home" to the place I had my first real job, delivered my first babies, and learned some of the hardest and most amazing lessons of my adult life. On the airplane ride back to the States, God gave me a few minutes of peace (all three cherubs were sleeping at the same time--miracles happen folks!) and I wept as started writing down these words. Why I haven't posted this until now, I am not sure, but after a long talk with friends via Skype, I felt it was time to share this with all of you. For those who have known the TCIS "home" it will hopefully bring back memories, for those who are serving now I hope it will encourage to keep fighting the good fight, and for those of you who know me but have not a shared history of the]is place, I hope this helps you know me and my "home" a little better.
Imagine an artist, a jeweler, searching the world for the perfect jewels to make a ring that when seen is so impressive that it holds the power to move people: move them to a greater understanding of beauty, move them to believe in beauty, move them to stand in awe of the beauty created by the coming together of many jewels to make something whole. The artist searches, he combs the earth searching for the precise jewels needed for the task at hand. In his infinite wisdom and understanding of beautify, and his knowledge of what combinations of colors and shapes will create the most eye-catching image he searches and searches, not stopping until he has found the pieces he needs.
Then the artist begins putting the jewels together. He cuts them, (it hurts), he buffs them, he polishes them, he finds a way to fit them tightly together so that they will not fall apart, even under the most intense blows or pressure. He works using a microscope so that even the smallest crack can be filled in and so that the shapes of each jewel can be situated in the exact places they need to be. Each jewel is different and the uniqueness of each jewel is drawn out by the location it is placed. Up close, the jeweler focuses on working each individual jewel in the spot that is best for it. But he also takes the masterpiece out from under the microscope to frequently examine the effects of the whole. He works tirelessly until both the microscopic and the macroscopic views are pleasing to his eyes. He knows he is finished when he takes the ring out from behind the microscope and sees a piece of jewelry, that when seen makes the observer stand in awe and wonder, not only at the beauty of the created but the beauty of the creator. He also knows that over the course of time he may need to return to the ring to make changes, to adapt the look so that it is continually striking to an every changing audience—an always evolving work of art.
This is what I see when I see the mission of TCIS, the mission of the dorm program, the mission of the primary and secondary school. God is at work, cementing together each of the jewels he has brought to TCIS into a beautiful ring that when observed radiates a kind of wonder that attracts the sinner to the lover of his or her soul. He has combed the world (literally) looking for the necessary jewels (each of you) to make his light shine on the campus of TCIS.
Sometimes you may feel he has taken the bag of jewels, torn it open and scattered them around. Maybe you feel you are just a small, tiny glitter, not a magnificent jewel that brings light to the hopeless. But I believe God wants you to know that even when you may feel unconnected, small, or alone in your mission to love kids into the Kingdom of Christ, you are not. He is working to bring each individual shining jewel together to make a unified body that glitters so brightly in the halls that no one can deny that there is something different about this place called TCIS.
The year before we left, I stood on the 1st floor of the dorm and cried my heart out for the people who would one day occupy the campus of TCIS. I had never felt such a deep, intense desire for a group of people in my entire life. And I didn’t know then that I would not be one of those people. But to this day I know that God has a special calling for the lives of those who walk out their faith as teachers, coaches, dorm staff, support staff, and board members at TCIS. I have never felt God so real in my life, either before or after the day he met me on the unfinished stoup of the Adams’ Dorm. And if God was there that day, I know he has not left. I know that he has so many promises and blessings that he desires to pour out on the students and staff of TCIS that our minds and hearts cannot even contain them.
But also know that the past few years have been full of struggle, heart-ache, pain, disappointment, loss, anger, resentment, fear, blaming, and doubt. The trenches had to be dug deep because the battle was long, and it is no secret that the battle led to some casualties: injured faith, loss of friendship, and wounded trust. There are scars from the battle and perhaps some feel they are POWs, unable to let go of the hurt and pain caused by watching a battle wreak havoc on a community once so tightly knit, and seemingly unshakeable.
During SEW 2014 I got to be an outsider (in the most positive sense of the word). You see, I missed those last two years of battle. Somehow we were spared the climax of the war. Maybe God knew we weren’t strong enough to withstand. Or maybe, he knew this: we would return as visitors to show you something you cannot see yourself. You are a beautiful community that God is using to change lives. You are! He has chosen each of you for this time, and He has literally combed the earth to bring the right workers for this time to this place for His purpose. He is working to bring you all together to be an awe-inspiring piece of jewelry, made up of small, cut, buffed and polished jewels cemented together through a common purpose found in Christ—to be loved and love. And not just staff to student, but staff to staff. He wants to use your unity to bring light to a place that can be dark. It takes only a quick google search to discover that South Korean kids struggle in the dark places of parental pressure, the call for academic perfection, and the intense need to fit into the prescribed picture of success. The kids you serve each day are fighting battles and are looking for hope. You are the messengers of that hope: the YOU unified as a body to love at all costs. You have the power (through Christ) to bring FREEDOM (think Brave Heart kind of freedom) by living out a love that is so counter-cultural that those who encounter the TCIS community will know there is a place of hope found on that hill (that brought so much pain) in Techno Valley.
No blood was shed on that hill, but spirits were broken, hearts were cracked, damage was done--pain enveloped. Yet, there was a hill on which blood was shed, blood that brought freedom and cleansing, a blood that taught us the greatest catalyst for change and pathway to freedom is pardoning, forgiving, not getting what we deserve; grace. And that blood brought ultimate beauty down to touch humanity. And we were all invited into a story and given the choice to be made beautiful through accepting the call to live a life controlled by love. To receive love and then live love, so that all the world could be changed by love.
Do you believe that? Do you know just how amazingly beautiful you all are and how amazing the light the TCIS community can radiate because He is piecing you each together to sparkle brightly like a giant diamond under a giant fluorescent light. I believe it because I witnessed it. I had a lot of conversations with a lot of different people in seven days, and from these I heard this theme develop: we love, we need love, and we have an intense desire to see love permeate the TCIS campus. I heard voices saying they desire oneness, community, common purpose, and relationships. God is at work in each heart, calling each of you to each other, because he knows how powerful he can be when you are of one mind and one heart, and one focus. And as much as you may believe that is not the case, you would be surprised how many of you are thinking alike--let God move, let God bring you together, seek his face and know that he is at work.
Transitioning back to the States has not been easy, for many reasons. But I believe the biggest is because there is no other place on earth where I can step onto a piece of land and feel love. Do you feel it? Do you stop and look around at all the awesome jewels God has collected and placed on a little mountain in Daejon?
I saw them. I saw the jewels the artist has collected in that place. Let me be your mirror to tell you, you all are so dang beautiful and bright. Believe it. Believe that God is at work in you and in TCIS. Spur one another on. Find encouragement in the brother/sister-hood of the body of Christ. Don’t let another day go by without realizing the beauty of what God has in store at TCIS. Find hope, and healing through living out Christ-like love with those around you and let the rest of the battle belong to the Lord. Move forward in love. And then watch as the hearts of students are changed by the presence of the unexplainable peace, joy and hope residing on the TCIS campus. You are a jewel, the person next to you is a jewel, bring light to shine on each other so that God’s light may shine before all men.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:3-6).
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: