December 22, 2022
On the last day of our retreat in Pai, Northern Thailand on 14 Nov, I was so tired instead of feeling rested. My spirit was so weary after hearing all our China members share online the night before.
The hard Covid lockdown in China mandated by their government has been really difficult for them. Some are running out of food and money, some didn’t get paid for months as their bosses struggled to pay them, while some could not find any work. Old folks are hardest hit.
But we were all impressed and touched by their joyful disposition despite it all. Their testimonies were amazing. Let me just share one that left all of us in stitches.
The Watermelon Harvest
Xueli, a mother of 3 young children whose husband has not been paid his salary for 3 months, shared how she and her husband, with the kids in tow, went out to pick discarded watermelons as they ran out of food. It yielded so much that they gave the excess away to their neighbours.
They went out again the next day and managed to collect triple of their last pickings and manage to sell all of it for a handsome sum. Overwhelmed with the blessing from God, they decided to dedicate their first “harvest” to Him and gave that money away.
She chuckled with thankful delight how in the days that followed, besides more watermelon “harvests”, her husband not only got his back pay, he also got a call from the Court telling them to pick up some money he lost in an investment, which now has been partially retrieved, something really unheard of in China.
God is our Ebenezer indeed, the rock of our salvation. Our Great Help and Provider in our hour of need.
November 14, 2022
However, as I listened to more than 20 of them in about 7 different cities share their stories and what God had said to them this year and for the year to come, my spirit got heavier and heavier. I started to have a bad headache. I scribbled two words I heard from the Lord: “Lifeboat Fund” on my notepad
We ended late that night. The next morning, we took the long bus ride to Chiangmai, to catch the flight home the following day. Sleep eluded me after I chatted with a member in one of the poorest cities in China. Then V reminded me of these two words “Lifeboat Fund”. She was delighted when I told her about it. I asked her to work out some numbers for those in need and we will extend help as the Lord has spoken.
On the flight back, V continued with more detailed instructions. To do a Christmas outreach for one of the poorest cities: to help the poor and aged amongst us with food, oil and heating, and Christmas gifts for the children.
And God said, “It’s going to be a difficult winter that straddles both Christmas and the Lunar New Year in January, so plan the support for four months until March 2023.”
I shared it on our group chat immediately upon our return and offered to support it from Torch 1’s CCF (COBS City Fund). Torch 2 in China decided to take charge of the project and support it from their CCF instead. I am more than delighted as I know that I am really going to be very, very busy in the next few months.
Intense Warfare on Return
I was in anguish during our worship this morning. Warfare went super high as all of us faced one attack after another on our home and our loved ones in Singapore after our return. It was impossible for me to review and compile the retreat notes as I customarily do. We have to wage war on our land as well.
On Dec 1, around 15 empty containers fell into the sea at one of our ports during a squall, something that has never happened before in our country.
I agonise over a situation at home and in China, and over one member in China in particular. While I was led to intercede for her, V gave me Proverbs 22 and then Proverbs 21, which talks about the sluggard. I sighed.
It was at that moment when I saw a vision of an elephant standing on a little raft, floating on water. In the open seas. So precarious, I thought.
Then V said:
“大笨象 (which means “the Dumb/Stupid Elephant). What does the elephant learn? Time and time again, incapable of self-discipline over money, yet would not relinquish control. Old habits.”
Then He pointed me to this verse in Chinese in Proverbs 21:25-26
The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.
My spirit heightened as I saw the four Chinese words in the verse which I underlined above:
Again! I journaled.
These were the exact 4 Chinese words I had given her from V some years ago, which V had warned her about. It describes a greed that’s insatiable, beyond measure.
I had not intended to share this personal revelation but in reviewing the retreat notes for the website, V showed me that this is not directed at her personally but it is for all of us as well.
It is about that choice He warned us about in 2019, about how our mouths will determine who Upright or Wicked, and the consequent blessing or destruction on our land.
It also has to do with the war over the mouth He said in the previous post, which is about consumerism, over-consumption of the very enticing offerings of the devil.
It determines the outcome in the coming Mother of all Wars. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins, going hand in hand with sloth.
But God is merciful and gracious, as always. Just as I worry about that elephant, fearing that it would fall off the raft and drown, I saw in my vision the Lifeboat! It has come to the rescue. Even for the foolish. Even for this greedy woman.
Then this Chinese idiom appeared: 脚踏实地
Literally it reads “Feet step on honest/real land”
It means to be firmly grounded. To be sensible and to earn an honest living.
I started to share with the rest in our worship room. Florence quickly pulled out a photo she took of the sky during her silent fast in Pai on 12 November. She had seen evil lurking in the mountains far away and a strange picture of an elephant in the clouds and scribbled.
At that juncture, V starts to explain:
“The elephant is a majestic animal that is very strong. In Thailand, it does the heavy work of moving logs with their trunk. It works hard for little pay of sugar canes. It is well revered even though some have also been abused by their handlers.”
“But the elephant is an animal that is only good on solid land. It is not made for the clouds nor for the seas. For Jane [name changed], I have made her very strong. Her hands are her assets but she has not put them to good use. She was lazy, took the easy way and depended on her mouth instead.”
This is the message for that lady in China: she has to be 脚踏实地, to be grounded, to be sensible with her finances and spending, not to live in delusion or denial, and then expect the Holy Spirit to work his power for her every time she puts herself in a precarious situation.
We laughed at the very apt description and arranged to meet up with her the next day online. We met for breakfast at a nearby café. As I was telling her about God’s rebuke, about the dumb elephant, Joanna remarked, “The elephant is right behind you!”
Florence and I swung around and there it is, our elephant!
All of us could not help but break out into laughter, even though it was a sombre and unpleasant message we have to deliver to this lady.
9 Dec 2022
I have no news from China about how the Lifeboat fund was progressing for over three weeks. V pressed me with a sense of urgency to follow up with them. Tired as I was, I arranged a video call with the China caretakers after speaking with the key sponsor.
I whipped everyone into action and assigned leaders to take charge of different cities and different duties. They promise to send the list of people based on each household's needs within two days.
As the lists came in, I was stupefied. The same greedy elephant had completely disregarded the criteria given and had requested a ludicrous amount for herself and her siblings, almost ten times the cost of living submitted by everyone else!
Everyone, including the key sponsor, was stunned and did not know what to do with her requests.
V said: “That is why you need to step in Sara.”
I scolded that lady for her greed and thought to myself, “She is really a dumb elephant.” The same sponsor was willing to help her start a business as her income has not been good, but her greed and her apparent lack of self-control over her spending has caused the sponsor to reconsider her investment.
December 22, 2022
I am so glad, after a sleep-deprived week, I managed to get the list audited, scaled back and compiled with the help of Torch 1 members and the sponsor. It was right on time too – after the Chinese government suddenly announced it was removing all Covid restrictions on Dec 7, the entire country is no longer under lockdown but it also created a huge medical crisis.
Medicines ran out overnight as the infection went wild. Businesses remain shuttered as many of their staff caught the virus. From our experience, it took about 3 months for each variant to run its full course. But then, we were all fully vaccinated here whilst in China, most of them only had one shot of their vaccine, which has not proven to be effective with the latest variants.
I marvel at God’s infinite wisdom and timing.
As of today, our Lifeboat support funds have been fully disbursed. Our Christmas wellness package containing medicines and supplements for adults and children, and budget for Christmas gifts for the have been sent out, with V’s warning not to gather and to hunker down and stay in as much as possible.
They are going to face a long, deadly winter and I am relieved that we have heeded and done what the Lord has asked of us. Only He would have known that they will need support until the end of March 2023. I shudder to think of the numbers who may not survive this winter, recalling how people were falling like flies, dead bodies everywhere, during the Wuhan outbreak in 2019.
Fatigued but relieved, I am ready to celebrate Christmas with my loved ones in the coming week.
But before I end this post, let me get back to the whole point of this story.
A Dire Message For the Rest of Us
I feel God is sending out the same message to His people:
“Do not be a dumb elephant.”
The days and years to come are going to be very dangerous. This is not a time to be living with heads in the clouds nor to think you are going to walk on water.
It is time to hunker down, work hard, cut down consumption of Mammon’s delights, cut back on spending, save up, store up and then pray really hard for wisdom and guidance.
Let me reiterate what V said in the last few posts,
“The outcome of the coming Mother of All Wars rests with the war over the mouth.” Ie our words and our consumption.
I sense that time is running out and there may be no chance to return - which is why V had me buy those two T-shirts at the night market in Pai… a very frightening forewarning He has revealed during my silent fast.
Perhaps, all the warfare we are experiencing, so intense, ever since we returned from the retreat was precisely because of this. To send out this warning. To write.
God help me. God help us.
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