Dream Interpretation

I’ve noticed that people are having dreams and looking for others to help interpret those dreams. While others can help, they don’t know what your impressions were or the circumstances surrounding your dream.

As I have asked for help interpreting my dreams I have felt some dissatisfaction because I knew the interpretation wasn’t quite right. In some cases it was well off target. Here is a link to a reliable site: http://www.dreambible.com/dreamdictionary/a.html There are other sites that purport to interpret dreams but they are contaminated with the occult, New Age, Yoga, whatever. Be extremely careful that you use sites that are Bible-based. Even within the possible meanings of an object there is room for interpretation so that the wrong impression can be given. And some symbols reappear in an individual’s dreams that are unique to them.

I dream of spirit travel, so sometimes a dream interpretation is not appropriate because it was travel in the spirit. My personal visions often have to do with water, and at first I was confused and misunderstood the significance of the various bodies of water. For example, I first saw an extremely wide expanse of water and thought it must be the flowing of a river into the ocean. There was a current but the whole impression was one of quiet confluence. I asked the Lord if this was the end of a life and He seemed to say no. Not too long after, I saw what I recognized as the Mississippi River. It was about a mile wide and had a strong current. God seemed to tell me that this was where I was now – more active and engaged spiritually. Then during a time of worship I saw a mountain stream with white water and understood that my life was about to take on speed. In a fourth vision over a period of months I saw a narrow river with swiftly moving water flowing through a red rock canyon. I even could identify the location on the Internet although I have not visited the place. These visions coordinated with my walk with Jesus, and I realize that others are having similar experiences.

Recently I had a vision of the ocean. The waves were not extremely high but they were turbulent  and I asked the Lord if a storm was coming. I didn’t get an answer but I have certainly been experiencing rough seas. I’m glad I had advance warning or I would have thought I had erred off the path. In fact, the Holy Spirit is teaching me things I need to know to prepare me for what lies ahead in my life. He is a wonderful Teacher and I trust Him and rely on Him when the going is hard and requires courage and persistence.

Here is one more example: I had two flashes of a vision. One was a face and the other was a white patio chair covered in heavy frost. Using the above site I found:

Face

To dream of a face represents the personality. Ugly faces represent negative aspects of your personality or things you don’t like about yourself. Beautiful faces represent positive aspects of your personality or things that you do like about yourself. When you dream of a face it may reflect your awareness of personality changes in yourself or others.

When trying to decode the symbolism of a dream face try to focus on how the features of the face makes you feel.

To see your own face being attractive points to positive feelings about your own personality. Seeing your own face as ugly points to negative feelings you are having about yourself.

To dream of the left side of your face may represent the logical or honest aspect of your personality.

To dream of the right side of your face may represent the creative or dishonest aspect of your personality.

My vision of a face was just a flash, so I went with “When you dream of a face it may reflect your awareness of personality changes in yourself or others.” I have been experiencing massive emotional healing.

The white patio chair covered with heavy frost was a little more complex.

Patio

To dream of a patio represents your openness about yourself. An attitude of not thinking that anything really matters. Feeling you can freely say whatever you want.

Negatively, a patio may be a sign that you are too comfortable or interested in talking about yourself.

To dream of patio doors being open represents a willingness to be open about yourself. Closed doors may be a sign that you or someone else is not quite ready to be open about themselves.

Chairs

To dream of a chair represents “staying put” with a decision. Taking a position in life. Situations where you are aware of yourself not wanting to take action at all. Waiting or “sitting a situation out.” Inactivity, preferring to relax, or passivity. Behavior you are comfortable with. An attitude that is stubbornly refusing to cooperate or accept insulting behavior anymore.

Alternatively, a chair may reflect how you are taking time out to contemplate a situation before proceeding.

To dream of a red chair may reflect a negative or dangerous situation you are choosing to stick with. Awareness of yourself stubbornly or dangerously “sitting” on an issue.

To dream of no chairs may represent feelings about having no ability to secure or stabilize a situation. Feeling that there is no way relax or be comfortable with a decision. Anxiety or stress will not stop. Resting or taking break are not possible.

I chose: To dream of a patio represents your openness about yourself.  To dream of a chair represents “staying put” with a decision. Taking a position in life.  An attitude that is stubbornly refusing to accept insulting behavior anymore. Alternatively, a chair may reflect how you are taking time out to contemplate a situation before proceeding.

As my blog has detailed, I have been experiencing the emotional healing of multiple personalities and integration of alters one-on-one with Jesus. No counselors involved. In the past I have been an extremely private person but am now opening up to people as I never have before. With the major healing of Rejection/orphan spirit the changes inside me are the work of the Holy Spirit and I thank Him earnestly, daily, and many times in a day. I also sit before Him daily to seek His guidance for that day.

Cold

To dream of objects being cold may reflect purity or sterilization of negative influences. Some area of your life is perfectly positive. A lack of danger or negative influences. Some area of your life that is radiating positivity.

To dream of feeling cold may reflect feelings about situations feeling empty, unfeeling, or totally unfair.

To dream of very cold weather represents conditions in your life that feel terrible or unbearable. It may also reflect isolation or loneliness. Emotional restraint.

To dream of cold water represents uncertainty or negativity that isn’t dangerous. Drinking cold water may represent replenishment with very pure influences.

Snow

To see snow in your dream represents a fresh start or purification of some area of your life. A new feeling of security or a second chance. Experiencing something has come to an end. A new sense of clarity. Alternatively, snow may symbolize spiritual peace and tranquility.

Negatively, snow may reflect how harsh or cold a cleansing experience is. A very unpleasant new beginning or feeling as though you’re being punished. Emotional isolation. Feeling “out on the cold” or like you got a “cold shoulder.” A loss, a breakup, or an unpleasant ending of some kind.

Melting snow represents obstacles or fears that are dissolving.

To dream of playing in the snow represent enjoyment or relaxation after a troubling experience. Alternatively, the dream is a sign that you are taking advantage of an opportunity.

To dream finding something in the snow represents the discovery of hidden talents or abilities within yourself. You may have discovered a new opportunity. It may also reflect new feelings of acceptance or forgiveness after a difficult experience.

I couldn’t find any discussion of “frost” so I went with both “cold” and “snow” and found their symbolism was similar.

From “cold”: To dream of objects being cold may reflect purity or sterilization of negative influences. Some area of your life is perfectly positive. A lack of danger or negative influences. Some area of your life that is radiating positivity.

From “snow”: To see snow in your dream represents a fresh start or purification of some area of your life. A new feeling of security or a second chance. Experiencing something has come to an end. A new sense of clarity. Alternatively, snow may symbolize spiritual peace and tranquility.

These two interpretations are so similar that I was satisfied with them. The two flash visions were more of an indication of my joy with what was happening in my inner life than a warning or negative statement.

It’s important for you to interpret your own dreams and always be cautious about the interpretations others may offer.

 

Alvin

Another student whom I got acquainted with and came to trust was Alvin.  He had a flexibility that many Chinese seem to lack in accepting ways different from his own – different foods and menus, different attitudes toward privacy.  His English was excellent and he enjoyed shopping, so I took him with me when I went into town.  He enjoyed bargaining, too, so I would often come home with treasures I hadn’t intended to buy.  Having carefully saved my Chinese money, I asked Alvin if he would be interested in traveling with me as my interpreter during the winter holiday.  I would pay everything except whatever gifts he might wish to buy.  Yes, all the travel and hotel costs and regular meals.  The only problem was that his parents didn’t want to give him up during their high festival, Chinese New Year.  We negotiated an acceptable time and Alvin went home while I followed later on the train.  It was a long ride but I couldn’t get lost.  The car stewardess would watch over me.

Adventure on the Train

That train ride was a most memorable experience.  It just happened that a man and his wife who formerly worked for the State Tourism Bureau were in my car and their English was pretty good.  We talked and I enjoyed them most of the time, although the man seemed to be suspicious and looking for reasons to hate me.  At last he seemed to have found evidence to satisfy himself and when I went to the squat toilet he followed me.  When I closed the door, to my horror he kicked it several times and I was terrified that he might kick it in.  When I returned to my hard berth he was in bed all covered up, apparently asleep.  And he stayed that way the remainder of the 20-some hour journey.  My mind flashed back to the Foreign Affairs Director of that first university and her psychological discontinuity.  Adults who had gone through the Great Cultural Revolution were still in positions of responsibility and betrayed the deep influence of political propaganda that had preached hate and distrust of foreigners.  Nor were my experiences unique.

At one of the stops on my journey two peasant girls entered the car I was in, although their tickets indicated a different car.  The railway police tried to persuade the girls to leave the car and a battle ensued complete with bashing one another with beer bottles.  One of the girls was subdued but the other stayed, especially when she saw me, a foreigner, for she was curious.  She was supplied with plenty of liquor, the idea being that she would get sleepy and could be overpowered and transferred to another car.  I moved close to her and as we talked I noticed bloodless carvings deep in the back of her hand so I asked what they were.  About that time a drunk male passenger slipped up to bash her over the head from behind with a bottle, but she caught sight of him and leaped on him like a tigress.  It was then that I realized that she was probably demonized.  (During festivals when food is offered to ancestors and idols in homes and temples, demon activity increases.)  Someone quickly came to pull me to a safe distance and I watched as the peasant girl exerted superhuman strength against the men attempting to restrain her.

If you tell….   

Finally at our destination, after all the passengers exited the train, the two girls were dragged through the car aisle on their backs.  They had been handcuffed behind their backs and the police used the cuffs to drag one girl.  The other girl was pulled through the car on her back by her hair.  I was detained on the train and a group of policemen demanded that I write what I saw.  I refused.  Then they demanded that I sign a statement if the former tour guide, who had stuck around to translate, wrote it out.  Again I refused – I couldn’t read what he wrote.  Exasperated, they threatened that if I told anyone what I saw they would deport me, fear being a common method of control in China.  I figured the best defense against fear was to meet the challenge.  Alvin got on the train dressed in a black Western suit and tie, black hat, and shiny black dress shoes, so the police dropped back and deferred to him because money and appearance supersede position without money.  I immediately told Alvin what I had witnessed and as soon as I returned to my university two weeks later I told the other American teachers.

Meantime, Alvin had reserved a room in a luxury hotel with two double beds so we could stay in the same room to save money.  I explained if he did that a couple more times we would be having a shorter vacation than I had hoped.  He immediately went to see the manager to negotiate a room for himself and try to get the price of mine reduced.  And that problem didn’t come up again.

Sleeping on a kang

Alvin’s parents were lovely and very tolerant of me even when I brought a book and preferred to read while Alvin’s mother and sister made the various holiday foods.  I noticed a chicken in a cage in the entry but the cage and hen were clean.  The rooms were small and crowded but orderly, and there were kangs to sleep on.  I had read about the brick platforms built over the stove exhaust pipes to make sleeping comfortable in the bitter cold.  The morning Alvin and I were to rise about 3am to catch a train I was surprised to count more than a dozen people rolled up like sausages, each in his/her own quilt on the women’s kang. (There were two kangs in their home: one for the men and one for the women.) His extended family wanted to see us off on our travels.

Man minority

On the train when there was more opportunity to talk uninterrupted, I commented on Alvin’s parents being unusually gracious and not at all coercive.  He explained that his family was of the Man minority, originating from the Manchu rulers and that their attitudes and some of their customs were different from the Han Chinese majority.  In the two weeks we traveled together I came to highly respect Alvin’s ethnic background.  He was extremely knowledgeable about the Terracotta Warriors in Xian and eager to be an informative guide.  At the Xian Stele Museum he was full of stories about ancient warriors, rulers and heroes.  He read the ancient writings on the stone tablets to me and explained historic customs.  If he didn’t know something, he didn’t try to gloss it over.

Alvin negotiated for stone rubbings that were rather expensive, and whatever else I might be interested in buying.  At a jade shop the owner greeted him with an offer to split the profit if I could be persuaded to buy a piece.  Alvin was embarrassed and hissed, “Be quiet!  She understands you.”  The seller didn’t believe him until I began to bargain for some ornate paper cuts.  Of course, I bought no jade in that shop.

A seed sown

As a student Alvin was not very academic.  He was, however, a charismatic personality and a student leader.  He chose not to pursue an advanced degree, preferring to work at an American joint venture company when he graduated.  After several years with the same company he was included in a group to tour the company facilities in America and ended up staying in the States.  Although he has not made a commitment to Jesus, I know his heart is hungry from conversations we have had.  The Word sown in his heart will not return void so I trust the Giver of the Word to see to its eventual harvest.  Some sow, some water, some tend the new plants.  It has been my privilege to be a sower where seed had not yet been scattered.

 

Bible Teaching about Supernatural Powers

The occult is everywhere. It has pervaded our culture, even in churches and Christian homes. In fact, few Christians recognize the occult. Most occult practices start in the natural as a sin of the flesh. In it’s basic form it says, “I want to be in charge.” To control your own environment so that you remain in charge is the absence of trust in the Creator-God. At some point the occult becomes supernaturally empowered as a demonic stronghold. It actually invites the spirit realm to come into the individual’s spirit. Then it becomes a much bigger battle than when we were dealing with our own self-control.
I’ve written an experience I had with demonic molestation as a result of Masonic vows of an ancestor here: Masonic Vows.  Basis of My Calling also dealt with this subject. This is an issue that pervades our “Christian” society and troubles me. Please read the two posts mentioned above and take a look at these Scriptures below, and may God give you wisdom and understanding as you read.

Bible Teaching about These Supernatural Powers

Witchcraft, sorcery, etc., are condemned without qualification in both the Old and New Testaments.

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 — Every aspect of the occult is here itemized and forbidden as an “abomination.” Specifically forbidden are: one who practices “witchcraft” (NKJV; “divination” — ASV; KJV) or a “sorcerer” (NKJV and ASV; “witch” — KJV), or a “spiritist” (NKJV; “wizard” — ASV, KJV).

Leviticus 19:31 — Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits (“wizards” — ASV, KJV); do not seek after them, to be defiled by them (NKJV).

Leviticus 20:6 — And the person who turns after mediums and familiar spirits (“wizards” — ASV, KJV), to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. (NKJV)

Leviticus 20:27 — A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has a familiar spirit (“wizard” — ASV, KJV), shall surely be put to death (NKJV).

Revelation 21:8 — But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Revelation 22:15 — But outside [heaven] are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

Acts 13:8-10 — Elymas the sorcerer tried to keep Sergius Paulus from accepting the gospel. Paul rebuked him saying: “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?”

Note that the Bible does not distinguish whether the witchcraft is intended to achieve a beneficial goal or a harmful one. It is all inherently wrong because it is an appeal to a forbidden source of power.

[2 Chron. 33:6; 2 Kings 9:22; Ex. 22:18; 1 Sam. 15:23; Mic. 5:12; Nahum 3:4; Jer. 27:9; Mal. 3:5; Isa. 2:6; 2 Kings. 21:6; 23:24; Isa. 19:3]

Specific powers of witchcraft and sorcery are named and condemned.

Exodus 7:11,22; 8:7 — Using their “enchantments,” Pharaoh’s magicians tried to duplicate the miracles done by Moses and Aaron. “Enchantments” refer to the ceremonies or rituals sorcerers and magicians use to accomplish their ends: incantations, spells, magic words (“hocus-pocus”), wearing of charms (amulets), etc.

As the witchcraft website says: “Spells are used by Wiccans, and are a series of rituals and prayers that are conducted in witchcraft to ask for divine help in a certain aspect of life.” But God forbids them all.

Deuteronomy 18:10 also mentions these “enchantments” as part of that which is forbidden (“enchanters” — ASV, KJV).

Isaiah 8:19,20 – When they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? … To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

“Whisper and mutter” refers to the incantations and spells of magicians. These words are supposed to give the user power to induce the spirit beings to accomplish the desired result. If you know the words, you can lead the spirit to do your bidding.

Note that God’s objection is that such practices are a failure to seek after the true God.

Galatians 5:20,21 — Those who will not inherit the kingdom of God include those who practice “sorcery” (“witchcraft” — KJV). This includes the occult in general, but refers especially to the use of drugs and potions brewed by witches in their cauldrons, etc. (Movies and books often refer to the witches’ books of spells and recipes for potions, etc. “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble…”)

God condemns, not only the whole practice of the occult, but also the specific methods, rituals, and mumbo-jumbo words used.

[Lev. 19:26; 2 Kings 17:17; Isa. 47:9,12; Jer. 27:9; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chron. 33:6; Isa. 3:20; Rev. 9:21]

Witches and sorcerers cannot duplicate the powers and miracles God did through inspired men.

The Bible often warns us to avoid being deceived by lying wonders [2 Thess. 2:9; Matt. 24:24; Deut. 13:1-5]. Many Bible events involved confrontations between those who did true miracles from God and those who practiced forms of sorcery or magic.

Exodus 7-9; read 8:18,19 — Pharaoh’s magicians and sorcerers tried to duplicate the signs and plagues God caused through Moses and Aaron (7:11,22; 8:7,8,18; 9:11). For a while they seemed to succeed, but soon they failed and admitted Moses had the power of God.

Daniel 1:20 — In all matters of wisdom and understanding the king found Daniel and his friends ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers.

Daniel 2:1-13,27,28 — None of the magicians in Babylon could tell the king his dream and interpret it. But by the power of God, Daniel could both state and interpret the dream accurately [cf. 4:7,9]. Later he likewise interpreted the handwriting on the wall that predicted the downfall of Belshazzar (5:7,11). [Cf. Gen. 41:8,24]

Acts 8:9-13 — When Simon used sorcery to amaze the Samaritans, they believed he had great power from God. But when Philip preached Jesus and did true miracles by the power of God, both the people and Simon himself believed and were converted [cf. vv 5-7].

Acts 13:6-11 — Elymas the sorcerer was powerless to resist the superior power God worked through Paul.

I do not know whether the power of sorcerers can be explained through trickery, which pretends supernatural power but can really be explained naturally, or whether Satan really does possess some supernatural power. But what is sure is that Satan can never duplicate God’s true miracles. By comparing sorcery to the miracles of the Bible, we have proof witchcraft is inferior, so we should not put our faith in it.

Witchcraft, magic, etc., are the occult substitutes for Bible miracles. Where God has done miracles for His people, believers in the occult seek supernatural works by means of spells, incantations, etc. that appeal to other spirit powers.

As stated on the witchcraft website:

Wicca also worships both a male and female deity, a female Goddess and a male God, who had together created the world and everything in it. … Spells are used by Wiccans, and are a series of rituals and prayers that are conducted in witchcraft to ask for divine help in a certain aspect of life.

While many in the occult may not think they are appealing to gods, nevertheless God forbids all such because it is an appeal to supernatural powers other than His. God will never allow His people to follow that which counterfeits His true works.

[Isaiah 47:9,12-14; 1 Kings 18; Acts 16:16; 19:13ff]

Taken from: https://www.gospelway.com/religiousgroups/witchcraft.php

 

Meet Xiao

Early in my experience in China I noticed a student who was always in the classroom studying – during the afternoon play time, during meal times, even late in the evenings.  Sometimes I would sit and want to chat briefly but he refused because he was so busy studying for this or that exam.  I had a bad feeling about his poor health habits and invited him to go shopping with me one weekend morning.  To my surprise he accepted.  About lunch time I suggested that we get some vegetable-filled steamed buns, a common hot meal available on the street.  Xiao refused so adamantly that I was puzzled.  After several requests for help to get something to eat, I gave up and went to a seller to ask for myself.  Xiao just let me struggle with the language barrier but at last I made myself understood and got some buns.

Then he didn’t want me to sit down long enough to eat the buns, but by this time I was disgusted with his strange behavior and sat down to enjoy my food.  Just let him stand and watch me eat!  When he realized that he had misunderstood my intent, he hesitantly accepted one single bun and began to explain himself.  It seemed that he was always in the classroom studying because his grades were dropping (this was not true).  He didn’t eat meals because he didn’t have enough money to buy food and books.  And he could never accept help from a foreigner!

During a holiday Xiao invited me to the countryside to meet his parents and extended family.  He was from a closed area so I could not get permission from the university authorities, but his village Party Secretary was delighted to take care of the paperwork and I subsequently visited that village three or four times.  That first time I was intimidated by the crush of people pushing and shoving to board trains and buses.  People, people everywhere!  Pushing and fighting to get in front of each other, impeding the flow of movement.  At last we boarded a minibus and went hurtling down the bumpy road like the devil was after us.  I was frightened, so began to sing in my prayer language.  Xiao slumped over, leaning on my shoulder, listening to my song.  When I stopped he asked me to sing some more, so I did.  I asked why he liked my singing so much and he said I was singing about a boy whom I loved.  He declared that I was far too modest in saying I couldn’t speak much Chinese.  O really?!

We ate supper with Xiao’s family around 7pm, a huge meal.  “Eat more!  Eat more!” while they watched me carefully.  Not a relaxing situation.  At last I was permitted privacy for a sponge bath and around 11pm fell into bed dog-tired.  There was only a candle to read by so I didn’t read my Bible.  The next morning I rose at 6:30am but didn’t feel well because of the huge evening meal.  Late in the morning after a heavy breakfast of millet and eggs plus last night’s leftovers, Xiao took me on a tour of his village.  We met his little maternal grandmother carrying a bundle of straw on her back.  Xiao said when his grandfather married his grandmother, he had to beat her because she wouldn’t work.  (No wonder, I thought.  I noticed that she came from a noble family because her feet were bound.)  But now she is a good worker, he added.

I well remember sitting on the cold damp ground with Xiao and an uncle who was raising white asparagus and seedless watermelons.  Both these items were for export; then he bought an apple orchard for local consumption.  I was impressed with his thought-out plan, and we talked for some time about the farmers’ situation in China and how it differed from the American family farmer.  I certainly gained a respect for Chinese peasants from that encounter.

Xiao’s uncle asked about his nephew’s grades so I took the opportunity to point out that studying too hard and having a nervous breakdown was no different from destroying one’s health through overwork.  It was far too common in China that the stressed and broken student would commit suicide.  I wasn’t prepared to hear Xiao say in a whispered aside that this was his present condition.  This revelation explained why Xiao was drawn by my prayer language song!  Later as we walked back to his home for lunch I told him about my grandfather’s death, my failure to graduate, and the expiration of my scholarship.  I urged him to take better care of himself, body and soul, and could feel my loving concern soaking into a dry, hungry heart.

Xiao was his parents’ only son, although there were two younger daughters, so he was vital to their economic security in their old age.  If he failed to pass his courses he would lose face and cause his parents to lose face, too.  His idea of a solution to the problem was to take his life so that no one would be embarrassed.

“What about the loss of a son?” I asked.  “Wouldn’t your parents rather have you whether or not you were a university graduate?”

“Yes,” he supposed so.  “But how can I solve the problem of failing my classes?”

So I suggested that he begin by eating three meals a day.  Secondly, he needed to play with his classmates during the afternoon time for exercise.  Get hot and sweaty.  Thirdly, he needed to find a faith in Someone higher than himself who could guide his affairs with love and compassion and give him emotional stability.

After lunch there was no rest for this weary, food-laden foreign teacher.  We visited the wife of another uncle, the Party Secretary of Xiao’s village.  More visits and to bed at 11:30pm again.  The next morning we visited the senior middle school teachers of English.  They were delighted to have a native English speaker to converse with and arranged classes so that they could accompany me to the local market.  I borrowed money to buy a nylon jacket against the chilly country air and slowly they blossomed as we laughed and talked.  That evening students came into Xiao’s family courtyard to stare at the American and ask Xiao questions.  Everything about me was observed – my clothing, my shoes, my hair, my voice, the shape of my hands and face.  At last it was time to return to the university to collapse with weariness and a distended belly.

One of those times I came to visit Xiao, he got confused and went to the wrong train station.  I stepped off the train with nobody to meet me.  Fortunately, a young man noticed me looking about in confusion and asked if he could help.  I couldn’t understand much of his dialect but he was knowledgeable concerning available long distance buses and took me to the bus station.  He explained my plight to the driver who knew where I wanted to go since I had Xiao’s address written on a piece of paper in characters. Very soon the bus stopped at a crossroads and the driver indicated that I was to walk about 30 minutes straight south.  With a glance at my watch I started walking but 30 minutes later I saw nothing like a village.  Oh dear.

Then I saw a man and his wife and three children so I showed the man the address I was seeking and he assured me the village was near.  When I seemed hesitant, he asked his little son to go with me but the child was very afraid of me, a foreign devil with a big nose.  (Particularly in the countryside this was still a prevailing view of foreigners)  As we walked other children joined us and eventually lost their fear as I told them how pretty they were and thanked them for their help.  I had come into Xiao’s village from a different direction but soon recognized the Party Secretary’s courtyard.

Xiao’s courtyard was locked so I went to the Party Secretary’s home where I was warmly greeted and made comfortable with some hot tea.  Being a writing teacher, I carried student papers with me everywhere to keep up with grading as I had time, so I put the time to good use.  Meantime, the Party Secretary’s elderly father-in-law, not realizing a big nose was in the courtyard, came shuffling out of the house and sat down heavily.  I picked up my bag to get my camera and the old man tried to escape. My “black box” could very well trap his soul inside.  His daughter saw me with the camera and quickly pushed the old man down into his chair again so I could get a couple of lovely photos.  Those pictures were a treasure for her and her family after her father’s death.

Toward evening Xiao returned from his fruitless search for me.  We walked in the fields and talked away many wonderful hours about who God is and why He would care about each of us so intimately.  Near the village was a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) shack with two young boys assigned to guard a local dam.  They were quite suspicious of me but after observing that Xiao and I were friends and that I treated him with respect, they warmed up.  What wonderful opportunities to show love and respect to a people for whom God sent his Son to die.  And to speak of Jesus openly without fear of secreted “bugs”.

Over a period of time Xiao and I became close.  After graduation he got a good job, eventually taking a position with an American joint venture company.  After several years he was able to save the required amount of money to immigrate to Canada with his wife and little son.  In a strange environment he was painfully lonely and found cultural adjustment to be more of a challenge than he had imagined, so I suggested that he find a local Chinese church.  The people graciously took him and his family in and at last Xiao gave his heart to Jesus.  In one of our recent phone conversations he commented that he was learning what it was to tell a lie.  In his culture where connections are important and promises have little meaning because saving face is a priority, lying is considered a necessity; so this lesson was no small gain. The last I heard from Xiao he was teaching a Bible class. Yeah!

A Dream

I awoke early one morning with this dream. I was walking through a park and two of my female ancestors were walking together behind me. I was carrying a ketchup bottle,  anointing trees and benches. My two ancestors had a plastic bag with ketchup from my bottle and were also anointing objects here and there.  A large yellow public bus turned down the street we were walking on, so I quickly turned up a sidewalk leading to a modern office building, hiding the ketchup bottle in my coat. Thinking the bus had time to pass, I turned to exit the building and noticed it had turned to rubble. As I walked out, the dim outline of a dead lioness caught my eye in the debris. Outside, the day had turned gray and my two ancestors had disappeared.

I knew this dream had significance, but just what I did not know, so I asked Abba to tell me. Ketchup could represent fake anointing or a religious spirit from earlier in my adult life. I was surrounded with religious traditions and tried to please by showing religious piety.

It seemed that the two ancestors were meant to be real and sure enough, Abba began to tell me that they had participated in stealing my birthright as the eldest in my family. Being the family genealogist I knew exactly what Father was telling me about the older  ancestor but had never thought about those implications beyond her unjust actions toward my earthly father. What she did to my dad definitely effected my life, too, although I hadn’t considered that. So, quickly, I forgave her and canceled her debt. Then I asked for restoration of my rightful blessing.

The other individual had denied me part of my birthright in a more direct way. I remembered her unkind remarks but, again I had forgiven her. I hadn’t considered the implications of her choices and asked Father to restore what had been stolen.

So the precious Holy Spirit came to heal woundedness I had encountered as an adult. All He had taken me through up to this point had been wounds from childhood. As I conversed with Abba I asked if I could speak to the lioness and He and the Holy Spirit were pleased that I thought to ask. I commanded the lioness to rise and be healed. She stood up and gave herself a good shaking to get rid of the rubble and dust. Then she walked out of the ruined building casually as if nothing had taken place there at all.

I had to ask for help in understanding what the bus stood for and its bright yellow color. I was told that the bus represented a coming high quality ministry and yellow represented Hope. That wasn’t a complete surprise, for I had sensed a new opportunity looming on the horizon, but the time and place will be Abba’s choosing. Meanwhile, He has placed me in my Bridegroom’s lap to learn how to rest, to be still, and listen. Not an easy lesson for one so busy all the time with one project or another. But I’m finding that stillness is a lesson of its own, bringing that deeper submission and intimacy I have yearned for.

 

Meeting the People

School-Sponsored Holidays

Chinese universities often plan trips for their foreign students and teachers.  These were wonderful learning opportunities for us because we traveled by car and bus into rural areas, stayed in Chinese hotels, and ate in Chinese hotel dining rooms in rural areas.  Riding with a Chinese driver increased my appreciation for life in a more orderly society.  I learned to take a book and keep my eyes on it while traveling, or ride in the back so I could look at the countryside without watching the road.  Many times after getting back to our school we teachers would escape to our respective apartments for the evening.  Eventually we confessed to each other that the poor conditions of the rural areas broke our hearts and we were hurrying away to weep.

One of my favorite places to visit was Mount Taishan.  One fall there was an international mountain climbing race halfway up the mountain.  My university entered me without my knowledge then proceeded to twist my arm to take part.  At last I agreed and found it to be less strenuous than I expected.  There was another foreign woman who was physically unable, her university having also coerced her.  The Chinese were giving her oxygen and half carrying her up the mountain steps.  She won the race!  Later this race was publicized in the China Daily, international English language newspaper, as an “international event attracting participants from around the world”.

Another time the university Foreign Affairs Office took their foreign teachers and foreign students on a short tour of Inner Mongolia led by one of many tour agencies.  In a large northern town we met a German girl traveling alone who asked if she could join us.  We made her welcome but the FAO refused to allow her to join us.  She didn’t speak any Mandarin and we were quite sympathetic, so several of us pooled our money to help her rent hotel rooms with us and buy train tickets.  It was impossible to buy an extra ticket on the train to return to Beijing, however, so I gave her my ticket and said I would stay behind until tickets became available.  Our FAO was livid because this reflected on their ability to care for their foreign guests, so two of them grabbed my arms and conducted me aboard the train.

To my surprise the entire group of Japanese and Korean students studying Mandarin at our university sought me out to express admiration for my courage in helping the stranger.  But I knew from my first months in China how terrified I would have been and vulnerable to cheats had I been in this girl’s situation.  While my language skill level was low, my knowledge of the culture wasn’t bad and even though I wasn’t as brave as it seemed, I was more able to take care of myself than she was.  How could I do otherwise but help her?  The outcome was that someone was able to buy an additional ticket and I also had a bed to sleep on that night.

Meeting the People

One of my favorite memories while traveling happened in Xian.  I had been walking several hours and was quite weary, so I sat down to rest on a building ledge where some elderly people were soaking up the winter sun.

To my surprise one of the old ladies scooted over and whispered, “Hello,” in perfectly good English.

“Hello!”  I echoed.  “How is it you speak English without an accent?”

She whispered her story of growing up in Shanghai and attending a missionary school where the language was English.  During the Great Cultural Revolution her family, being educated and able to speak English, was forced to the countryside near Xian.  This revelation seemed to revive the fear she felt, so she cut the conversation short and moved away.  I can still feel the surprise of hearing her soft greeting.

In another more tragic case, I met a concert pianist trained in a major city, who also spoke flawless English, having been educated in a missionary school.  He and his family were sent to work in the countryside.  After the Great Cultural Revolution he was put in charge of teaching music to peasant elementary school teachers in a closed area.  This “rehabilitation” seemed totally inadequate to me, but I realize that totalitarian leaders fear intellectuals.

Connections

At the close of my fourth semester I was told that foreign teachers could only stay two years, so one of my Chinese colleagues graciously found another university for me.  I didn’t have to search for a position again in all my years in China because the Chinese system of connections works well.  If people know someone is looking for a job, they will offer information about openings and there will be plenty of references.

This works equally efficiently in reverse.  For example, the father of a student had offended an official.  In retaliation the official prevented my student’s father from finding any other work in his local area.  The student, a girl, was then responsible for the welfare of her whole family.  As you might imagine, one should be careful not to offend another because of the system of connections.  If the net is damaged even slightly, the tear can unravel until relationships are strained and may eventually turn hurtful.

Displaced Land Owners

During the Communist takeover in 1949 landowners were dispossessed.  One of my students was the grandson of a landowner.  He related how his grandfather had made him promise to recover the family lands and possessions if there were ever an opportunity.  My student was merciless in the execution of his “business” as a gang leader, selling protection much as Al Capone did during the 1940s in America.  Possibly this young man needed a mother-confessor because he often told me about his extracurricular activities and my stomach turned.  When I presented Jesus’ claims on his life he was deeply touched and I could see the longing in his eyes, but he said there would be no place to hide if he became a believer.  Even abroad, the Chinese mafia has an extensive network and he would be hunted down if he left the gang.  I respected his need to think through Jesus’ claims and make his own decision, for if he chose the Lord he would need the strength of personal conviction when former friends became enemies.

In another case, a student began noticeably to lose weight and I inquired after his health.  He told me that he was the grandson of a former landowner and was tormented in his thoughts and dreams at night.  He asked me to make him a tape of my voice speaking to him that he could play at night when he was so restless.  When I explained the Source of peace in my voice he harshly refused to accept a tape of such ideas as there being a Creator of the universe or His personal concern for individuals.  So I honored his wishes and spoke only of peace to him on the tape, convinced that the Word would accomplish its purpose whether or not it was recorded on a cassette.  In God’s own time and His own gracious way He brought  this troubled young man to the loving One who brings peace several years after he graduated from school.

Earning the Right to Speak

Many Chinese tend to trust foreigners with secret feelings that they cannot share with other Chinese.  Thus, it is a privilege to listen quietly and respectfully.  I wait for them to give me permission to speak of the One who gives peace through forgiveness of immorality and bitterness.  (There is no word in Chinese that can be directly translated “sin”)  It is critical that the foreign visitor earn the right to speak into the Chinese heart, however.  Mere words will not make the impact necessary for deep, lasting change. Only Love and respect can make a place for trust in friendships.  It is important to delete religious jargon and learn to use common words when speaking to those whose English is their second language.

If the foreigner shows any compassion and sympathy at all, he will receive God-given opportunities to listen and respond with Christian integrity.  One time on a train a Chinese man sat down opposite me in the dining car and offered to buy my lunch.  He then proceeded to unburden his heart concerning the moral decay with which China is wrestling. Communism, Buddhism or Daoism are inadequate philosophies to undergird a nation because there are no absolutes.  A society that subscribes to the philosophy that life evolved from lower forms creates gods with man’s fallen, cruel nature.  Such supernatural creatures are inadequate to provide the moral leadership for a peaceful, orderly society.

The man continued to explain that law in Chinese culture is based on the decrees of the political leader, who is above the law.  Everyone, then, aspires to be above the law.  Chinese leaders hold up folk heroes in a continuous search for role models, but in the absence of absolute doctrines, society is unstable.  Western culture and law, on the other hand, have been traditionally based on biblical absolutes that give structure to society. (Certainly that is failing now, globally.)

Building on his comments about social stability in America, I responded.  Christianity provides a foundation upon which to build a person, a family, a nation because there is a Creator-God who is absolutely good and His character is the moral absolute of the universe.  Nor is He aloof from human affairs.  In preparation for the coming of God’s son, Jesus, He prompted scribes through man’s early history to write about Himself and His character so that we could know Him.  One part of this writing was the Ten Commandments upon which western law systems are built.  Christianity need not search for role models. Jesus Christ, God’s only son, came at great sacrifice to take the punishment fallen man deserves in order to restore us to fellowship with Himself.

When the man on the train finished his meal he thanked me for listening and giving intelligent responses and handed me his business card.  A Deputy Communist Party Secretary of a major city in China!  It has been my privilege to meet national personalities as well as those known only to the Father on trains, along the streets, in their homes and listen to their dreams, their heartaches and disappointments.  It has been a privilege to offer a precious Solution, in the person of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ to the many hurting and disappointed hearts I’ve met.

My first year in China was meant by the enemy to so wound and disable my spirit that I would be incapable of listening with love and compassion as a representative of the One who sent me.  That struggle never abated, but the enemy could not win because greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.  It is not by might nor power but by His sweet Holy Spirit that anything is accomplished for the kingdom.

 

 

Healing Out of Intimacy

This is a brief transcription of a message given by Bill Johnson uploaded to YouTube Jan. 28, 2010. Healing Out of Intimacy

You and I will always reflect the nature of the world we are most aware of. Your shadow will always release what overshadows you. If you engage with the Holy Spirit merely because you want to be “effective in ministry”  then you’re developing professional intimacy. What do we call people who are intimate as a profession? We want the lifestyle of the Kingdom to emanate from the yielded life. This relationship we have with the Holy Spirit  is essential to learning the life of miracles because the relationship is where you learn to release the Presence. He will give you the measure of His presence that you are willing to jealously guard. Whatever measure you’re willing to take a bullet for, that measure is what you will learn to carry on a continual basis.

There is a difference between that which has been provided by Heaven for us and the measure we actually walk in.  The Holy Spirit has been given without measure and we have been called to carry this Presence. God can be influenced by what is in us, the timing and the outcome of a situation. For example: Mary and Jesus at the wedding of Cana.

The worst thing we can do when what we’re praying for doesn’t happen is to blame God. There is no lack on His part. He’ll let you have as much as your body can handle. But our bodies can handle a whole bunch more than we’ve got right now. Give place to the Holy Spirit as a lifestyle. Whenever intimacy with the Lord is developed for ministry, you have professional intimacy. We have a name for people who develop intimacy as an occupation. Learn to host the Presence out of relationship so that when we get into places where there is a demand, the demand can be met without our will being involved. (Peter’s shadow healing the crippled man)  A relationship with the Holy Spirit cannot be developed for the purpose of the miraculous; otherwise, you reduce Him to a principle instead of a Person with whom we have a relationship. There is a Person whom we host that we give place to. The Spirit remains in us and we have continuous connection with what the Father is saying, what the Father is doing. Walk every step carefully with the heavenly Dove in mind.

Will You Marry Me?

The Chinese love pageantry.  During the September opening ceremony for the new school year a young man gave an impressive sword exhibition.  It happened that he was in one of my large lecture classes so at break time in one of our class sessions I asked him questions about his skill as a swordsman.  He was pleased to get better acquainted with his foreign teacher and we went for long walks in the campus gardens but he would not use the phone to call before he came to my apartment.  His preferred time to chat was 10:15pm.

The first time he got ready to leave a few minutes after 10:30pm when the foreign teachers’ compound was locked he commented, “Oh, I can’t get out.  I guess I’ll just have to stay here!”

“Oh yes, you can get out.  There is a hole in the fence.”

He had to be shown, so I took him outside and pointed out the space between the iron bars.  He shook hands with me and slipped out but he was not very pleased.

Another time he came a bit later and asked outright if he could stay overnight.  An American movie had been shown on campus that evening of Americans sleeping with each other, drinking, smoking, snorting coke, shooting up, but I again said no.  When I asked him to leave he said the hole in the bars had been closed up.  We went outside so he could show me, and sure enough, no hole.

Wiping his hands on his chest, he asked, “What shall I do now?”

“I guess you’ll just have to sleep in the courtyard,” I replied as I turned to go back inside.

He was so angry that he grabbed two bars, slowly spread them apart and squeezed through without remembering to shake hands. I was horrified at his show of strength.  In fact, I told the other foreign teachers what had happened and asked them to come quickly if they heard me screaming.

When I was in America during the summers after that he wrote love letters and proposed marriage.  This was a common strategy for Chinese students who want to go abroad since many students were not able to get academic scholarships.  I once received a marriage proposal from a chemical engineering professor with whom I had been friends for more than a year, a married man with adult children.  Eventually he was able to get a visiting scholar’s visa to Canada, which he changed to a green card to remain longer.  Unfortunately, his education and experience were inadequate for employment in Canada so he worked in a McDonalds and found life difficult because of his age.

If Chinese students can find American sponsors they can get visas, but the sponsor must guarantee a substantial bond.  Students worked hard at developing friendships with their foreign teachers and then at the end of that teacher’s tenure the student would ask for sponsorship.  If the foreign teacher refused and tried to explain that they didn’t have the money to put up security, the Chinese thought this was a flimsy excuse because one could (and should) falsify documents for a friend.  In one year alone I was asked for security totaling more than $100,000.  Some teachers did sponsor students to study in America but were disappointed when the student felt no further obligation to the sponsor.

Another Lesson Learned

I often went out walking in the nearby countryside seeking a bit of nature. Where my university was located the land was heavily polluted and not much grew. There weren’t even weeds, insects or snakes.  One day I discovered a small settlement of mud houses, some with courtyards containing animals.  One of them had a donkey, an unfriendly dog, a hissing watch-goose, some chickens, and kittens playing in the dirt.  I stood and took in the pleasure of the animals when a little old lady came out of the mud house and invited me in.  I accepted her invitation and sat on a tiny, low stool with one wooden foot on which to balance – similar to an old-fashioned milking stool my father used when milking his cows.  The lady offered me tea in a filthy cup and I accepted graciously because I knew it was her best.  We couldn’t talk because she spoke the local dialect.  At last I set the cup down and bid her goodbye.

The next week I stopped again at the lady’s courtyard gate and she was waiting for me.  Her husband was home this time and they cordially invited me in.  I had brought my Chinese-English/ English-Chinese dictionary with me and the man and I passed it back and forth.  His wife was my age.  I was very surprised and humbled because of her haggard appearance.  Also, she couldn’t read.  After that I went every week except during holidays to visit them.  When it came time to say our last good-byes I took them some cookies I had baked as a special gift.  Quickly the lady offered me first this and then that and it slowly dawned on me that when a gift was received, a gift must be given in return, and my heart sank for they were so poor.  What beautiful, gentle people!  At last I accepted two dozen eggs because I knew they were a renewable resource and hated myself for what I had done.

Nuts and Bolts

Often Chinese universities provide a maid to do housecleaning and laundry for the foreign teachers.  When the maids cleaned our apartments they collected information such as phone numbers, names and addresses.  I was distressed to return from classes to find my underwear drawer in disarray from clumsy searches.  Opened mail, phone taps, and multiple keys for every lock.  One time my bike was gone and later the maid returned it saying that she needed it for a quick trip.  It was locked, though; how did she unlock it?  Oh, she had an extra key, she remarked.  There is no word in Mandarin for “privacy” although the concept is understood.

At one university there was only one washing machine, which we were not permitted to use.  Instead, the maid washed our clothes for a fee.  The various fees would have totaled more than a thousand Yuan in two semesters.  Instead of paying to get my laundry done I carried it off campus once a month to wash at a friend’s apartment.  The other three weeks I did hand laundry, even my jeans and coats.  This was hardly satisfactory, so at the end of the year when negotiating for a second year, I asked for access to the laundry facilities and discovered that the dean of the Foreign Language College didn’t realize what the maid was doing.  He had a personal chat with the Foreign Affairs Office and the next year we all could use the washer to launder our own clothes if we wanted to.

Shopping was an adventure because the vendors see foreigners as geese that lay golden eggs.  Eventually, I wanted to do my own shopping but my students were protective and insisted on going along to haggle and shout over each transaction.  I can still see one student who would become volubly indignant at the shamelessness of the vendors’ eagerness to get more money from me.  My attitude was to move along, trying to bargain, refusing to buy when prices were inflated.

I enjoyed practicing my limited language skills in the open-air markets.  I asked other shoppers what an item cost and they were quite willing to tell me the price and which sellers to go to.  Eventually, there were vendors who offered their vegetables at reasonable prices, so I bought from them faithfully, and good relationships were built.  One of my greatest pleasures in China was to go out on the street and haggle for goods.  Most sellers were good-natured and willing to negotiate.  A few times the price was too low for the seller to make a profit, so when I paid for the item, I would give what I thought was fair.  This aspect of integrity created respect between vendors and me.

I have taken newly arrived foreign teachers shopping to show them where to find various goods and how to negotiate, only to be embarrassed by their brash talk and rude behavior in front of Chinese merchants whom I appreciated.  It won me a subtle smile and a curt nod when I softly apologized, Wo dui bu qi. (I’m sorry).

Meeting and talking with people on the streets was a great pick-me-up when I felt discouraged.  Some polite questions in Chinese society are: How old are you?  How much money do you make?  How much did that cost?  Have you eaten?  Store clerks frequently asked me how old I was.  I pretended to ting bu dong – not understand the question.  Then I would give a wrong answer.  When the clerks were confused I would give the correct answer and they would stare at me in disbelief because I appeared to be younger than they expected.  Sometimes a clerk would give a speech of thanks to Americans who came to China to help in their modernization, especially older Americans.  This made me feel small indeed, so I replied, “Wo bu yun xie – I want no thanks!”

All Americans Do It

During my tenure at that first university a young Chinese teacher knocked on my door one evening to take me to a dance.  Not many Americans do ballroom dancing, so I explained that I didn’t dance; I didn’t know how.  Well, she wouldn’t buy that!  All Americans know how to dance.  It can be seen in the movies.  Nothing I said shook her confidence, so I went.  Reluctantly I began to learn a fox trot and a slow waltz.  Then I discovered that dancing was a wonderful way to get a private conversation with someone who might not be permitted to talk to me otherwise.

Some funny things happened.  Once, the monitor of one of my classes was so afraid of making a misstep that he begged me to lead.

“I can’t,” I protested.  “If you don’t lead, I don’t know what to do.”  So he led, but his legs were shaking until he realized I was truthful, and he began to relax and enjoy himself.

On another occasion somebody invited an army officer who had his eye on me.  Among my students, several were quite accomplished dancers and made me look good.  When the army officer asked the students about dancing with me, they told him I didn’t know much about dancing so he shouldn’t expect too much.  But he marched out on the floor and gave me a summons.  Off we went and he began to do some very fancy steps apart from me while I just stood in confusion. As university dances became increasingly public I abandoned that activity.

Social Status

Another aspect of the culture is class-consciousness.  I was walking to a student dorm one early afternoon when I met the dean of the Foreign Language Department.

“Oh, I was just coming to see you,” he exclaimed.

“Oh I am not home now,” I responded without telling him where I was going.

“Well, may I come to visit you tomorrow afternoon at 2pm?” he asked, and we agreed on the time.

Unknown to me, he continued toward the foreign teachers’ apartments and met two other Americans who essentially had the same conversation with him.  He told us later that at first he wondered why we didn’t turn and retrace our steps to visit with him.  Then it occurred to him that Americans treated people equally, making and keeping appointments according to when they were made rather than according to who they were and their social status.  This dean was appreciated by both his own teachers and students, and by his foreign teachers for his cultural sensitivity.  The other side of this was when we foreign teachers made appointments with our students we were never sure they would keep the appointment because Chinese teachers had more status than the foreign teachers.  Frustrating.

Seating at banquets and formal meetings reveals who is in favor at the time.  Foreign teachers are seated according to how they are regarded by Chinese authorities.  In newspapers and magazines one can see the status of individuals according to where they stand or sit, and those in-the-know can observe the rise and fall of destinies.

Group Decisions

Collectivism, the value of the group over the individual, is a very important concept in Asian cultures.  Student dormitories house six or eight students to a room stacked in bunk beds.  In some universities curtains are allowed around the beds, in other schools curtains are forbidden.  If one stops on the street to ask for directions a committee meeting of passers-by may take place while the various individuals argue about the exact location of an address.  One time after June 1989, while I was back in America I had trouble getting a Chinese  return visa.  The officer I talked to on the phone refused to take any responsibility to process my passport.  So I asked him to have a meeting of those in his office to decide whether or not to stamp my passport.  That gave the man an out and I got my passport stamped and in the return mail.