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He will lift up…..

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-11 NIV)

I am a jar of clay; I get tired, frustrated, afraid, discouraged and I don’t belong on a pedestal. This passage describes best how I have been feeling the past few months. I feel “pressed on every side” by too many constraints on my time and energy, not having enough trainers and counselors to meet known needs, living financially month-to-month and sometimes week-to-week or even day-to-day as a family or a ministry. But I am “not crushed.” I get bruised but it is Satan that gets “crushed”(Genesis 3).

I am often “perplexed” about where I will get our next visa, how I will pay the bills or pay ten employees, whether it is safe to teach in this place, how to help this wounded one in front of me, how to advise an intern or counselor regarding the wounded one they are helping, how to express truth cross-culturally in way they understand. But right now, I am not in despair, though like Paul in a letter to another church about a different moment, said he “despaired of life itself,” meaning he wanted God to take him to heaven instead of leaving him on earth and I have been there too at times.

As an American in China, I am not “persecuted” and “struck down” like Paul, but my heart aches for my colleagues that suffer. But like Paul, I am not abandoned by God or by the dear ones that support us in the challenges I face. I want you dear ones to know that though I get down at times, your prayers and support lift my arms and God lifts my head. I want you to know how important you are to what we do. We thank God for you and praise God for the power to do this.

Faith is not a spectator sport, so want to be a participant?

-Mike Banker 2012


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