Meeting Him on the Water

The waves are crashing all around, while the secure boat feels safe against their surge. But then you spot, in the distance, an Image that beckons you. The figure that you have grown to love and adore asks you to meet Him out where there is nothing firm to stand upon, or so you think. “Is meeting Him worth the risk?” You sigh, and begin to get out of the boat. The risk will be taken, if the thrill of seeing Him up close is the sweet reward.

You can’t truly see Him show up, unless you get out.

And get out, we did, this Christmas.

And SHOW up, HE did.

Scheduled for this Christmas season, were Christmas clubs each Friday afternoon, a week long visit from Eric and Sara-Beth and their four children, during which, Danny’s other sister, Martha and her one year old would be staying with us (in case you need help doing the math- thats five adults and a 7,6,5, 4, two 3, two 2, 1 and 8 month year olds in our home! Joyful chaos is what we like to call it.) All in addition to extra Christmas outreaches at OKPCA, where Danny is a part time pastor, plus all the Christmas shopping, cooking, and baking needing to be done. As soon as those guests left, we were scheduled to host international students again.

The coordinator of the ministry we have been involved with for the past three years here in Orlando called me up to work on placing some students in our home. I had told him previously that we would be willing to take whoever was the hardest to place.  He had a Korean family of four who would be hard to place because the unit was so big.  I told him “yes” with slight disappointment in my heart.  Why? Not because it was a unit of four, although that would indeed make for a full house. But rather because the mom and three girls had marked “Christian” as their religion on their application for the program.  I was very glad they were Christians, but my heart beats for people that don’t yet know Christ as their Savior.  Last year’s thrill of sharing the Gospel with people who had never heard the Word of God or the Savior which it proclaims was still fresh in my heart.  “I guess we won’t get that joy this year….” I think as I agreed to take the family.  Despite the surface disappointment, I knew that if I just said “yes” and got out of the boat of my expectations, I would meet my Savior out on that water. And there is nothing sweeter than stepping out, and seeing Him show up and show OFF His beautiful handiwork.

The first little detail He took care of was their arrival.  The Nolls had JUST left and so many sheets and towels needed washing, floors needed mopping (you should have seen all the dirt those 30 feet tracked through our house), and bathrooms needed cleaning.  I was on a push to get things done WHILE keeping five children occupied, watching the time tick away quickly while the To-Do list did NOT tick so quickly.  Then I got word that their flight would be arriving late, and had 4 more hours to work before they arrived!  Thank you, Lord, for showing up, and taking care of this tiny need-to be ready for their arrival!

Then I got to meet my the family and it turns out it was a mom, Juyeon, her two daughters (9 and 11 years old), and her niece (16 years old) who had flown to visit them during her winter break.  As we talked about the upcoming schedule of events (including activities at our Korean Church), Juyeon asked, “My niece is Buddhist.  She has never been to a church before.  Is it still OK for her to come to church if she is Buddhist?”.  Is. it. OK…..My heart began to soar! “You mean she doesn’t know anything about Jesus?”  “No, not really.” was the reply. Jesus knew the desire of my heart, and He met me there.  I WOULD still get to be sharing with someone who had not yet even heard of the good news of Jesus!  Katherine (the niece) drank in everything while we were at church, and asked lots of questions.  She received a Jesus Storybook Bible from us for Christmas, as a follow up to what she had heard us read to the kids at family devotions during the evenings.

Then Juyeon (whose English was incredible) and I had wonderful conversations AS SHE HELPED ME CLEAN THE KITCHEN (more on that in a minute) she said she was so impressed that Danny led us in family worship each night, and she thought it was so good for her girl’s to see the father taking that role. She confided in me that her husband was not a believer, and how she longs for her life to be a witness to him.  We talked like kindred spirits over the struggle to live LOVE all the time and that we so often fail, and lose our patience.  We spoke of letting Christ live in us to the degree that HE is the one who lives, handles the conflict, and is the witness through our hands and feet and mouth and ears.  We even had prayer time together for her witness to her husband and for her girls to grow to know and love the Lord.  Throughout the week, she had so many questions for me…about why we have so many people live stay with us/come over, why we have so many children, why we work at a Korean church, etc.  I think she was amazed at our lives, which seem so “normal” to us. It was a joy to share that it wasn’t ME, anything good or challenging she saw in our lives, was due to the Power and Grace of Jesus living in us.

About the cleaning thing…Juyeon was just like the wonderful Korean women at my church…Always busy working on something, washing dishes, and tidying up.  She asked “Is it OK to do this?  It just feels natural to me.”  I’m not one to argue over that due to my own pride…I’ll take all the help I can get!  I couldn’t believe it. She made my week and a half with them even easier than when it’s me by myself with my kids – just another way of Jesus showing up and carrying what would have been a huge burden.  Beforehand, I had no idea how I would keep up with everything…my own children and the messes they make plus extra people at meals and more hospitality on Christmas day…but I had known that when saying “yes”, God would take care of those details somehow-and He did in Juyeon’s helpful spirit)

THEN, my least favorite part about hosting the students at Christmas is being down in the kitchen by 6:45 am to fix them breakfast, get them fed, and then get them out the door by 7:30 so they can go on their Disney excursions.  But the night they arrived, Juyeon said to me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I brought noodles for our breakfasts because my girls are picky eaters.  Is it OK if I just fix them their breakfast each morning?”  What?!?  Jesus showing up again and taking care of the details…

The first half of Christmas Eve, they attended a conference in which the Gospel was shared- it was Katherine’s first time having the full Gospel shared with her. They arrived back home, we had dinner and started getting ready for our Christmas Eve “Service”  (Korean style, is to do a talent show, where each small group does an act or a song, and then we close with a candlelight singing time).  Danny was going to be rapping for it and the kids were in a couple of acts, and shot-in-the-dark, I asked our Muslim housemate,Nader, if he wanted to come.  We have asked him numerous other times to go to church with us, and he never does, so I didn’t have much expectation of him doing so.  BUT faithful Juyeon, says, “Yes! Yes! You need to come with us, we will all go together and it will be so much fun.”  Low and behold he decides to come with us 20 minutes before we leave!  THEN half the acts and songs are in Korean, so Juyeon is faithful translating things for Nader.  A little kids Christmas play of the story of Jesus’ birth with the Scripture of each scene up on the screen in Korean AND English-Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, Jesus being born, the angels appearing to the shepherds, and the wise men coming to worship Jesus-led to alot of question and answer on Nader’s part.  In the past he has said “Muslims believe in Jesus too-that he was a great prophet” but he knew so little about Jesus’ background and his birth so we were a bit noisy explaining everything during the play, but so thankful for the opportunity. Only Jesus could have coordinated a woman from Korea getting a Muslim guy from Libya to go to a Korean Christmas Eve Service in America, to be a place where this American family could explain more about Jesus’ coming. Jesus shows off in extravagant ways out there on the water!

Then Christmas morning was SUCH a joyful time together.  Our guests and Nader experienced “Christmas” complete with “Joy to the World”, a reading of Luke 2, and massive amounts of presents** being opened for the very first time.  **(Did I mention that right after I agreed to host the four Korean students, someone anonymously sent us a $200 gift card to Target (THANK YOU to whoever it was, if you are reading this), which in turn paid for the stocking stuffers for the ELEVEN stockings I had to shop for and fill. )  Everyone had a such a wonderful time opening things, and I just loved seeing Nader’s and the Korean student’s reactions when I have gifts for them to open and they weren’t expecting it.  (Must be how God feels as I received gift after gift of seeing Him work and coordinate events this Christmas season)

After presents and Christmas brunch, our house looked like a tornado had hit it, and we were having two guys from Egypt and a guy from Iran(who now will be moving in with us in February) for Christmas dinner.  Again Juyeon came to the rescue and recruited her girls to set the table, and she herself cleaned up the house, while I was busy in the kitchen cooking.  (Thank you, Jesus, for taking care of the details again!) Then we had a wonderful dinner and a two and a half hour discussion afterwards about God, the Bible, the Koran, the Gospel, Islam, and salvation.  Around our table sat Coptic Christians from Egypt, a former Muslim now agnostic from Iran, a devout Muslim from Libya, three Christians from Korea, a Buddhist from Korea, and then our Christian American family.  You’d better believe we had a LIVELY discussion….but amazingly, even though things got somewhat intense at times, we all ended better friends and blessed to have been challenged by one another’s beliefs (Juyeon’s daughters kept my kids busy playing upstairs with new Christmas toys).  Again we saw Jesus show up around our dinner table, and throughout our conversations, throughout every little detail.  It is a joy to step out, and let Him take care of the logistics.  I just love meeting a LIVING SAVIOR outside the boat.

Our time with the students came to a close with Katherine telling me that she had learned SO much over the week and a half, and Juyeon and I promising to get together up north (she lives in Albany) before she moves back to Korea in a year.  I ended my time with them in awe of God’s goodness, and more inspired to take bold steps of faith, for having seen Him take care of everything, down to who would keep my kids occupied so I could engage hearts from the nation’s around my dinner table.

There is no greater joy than simply showing up, saying yes, getting out of the safety of the boat of my own limitations, and walking on water with a supernatural power that could only come from the One who had created it in the first place.  I’m sold.  I am convinced.  There is no other way to live life but outside the boat…walking towards the Image of the Holy One and meeting Him in the impossible places.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristen
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 17:58:15

    Kimberly, I am so thankful that you get the joy of living that life out of the boat! my heart longs for that as well but it is all too easy to get stuck in the “trappings of this world” and stay in our proverbial boats and not even look out to see the glorious image of our Savior. I know there is joy there and my heart wants that privilege too. Sam and I love hosting and having our house full and dirty from people as well and we haven’t done enough of it and the Lord definitely used your story to give me a kick in the pants out the door to find new friends to invite in. Every time I read your blog it encourages me in the Lord, so thank you for sharing your life in that way. I’m thankful to have you as a sister in Him!!!


    • kimzhis
      Jan 18, 2013 @ 21:08:36

      Thanks so much for the encouraging words, Kristen! I needed to hear them today (raising five little ones is NOT for the faint of heart, in case you were wondering) But seeing God show off, as we show up, is the most thrilling adventure. I pray you get to experience the miracles as you take those steps of faith!


  2. Mark Harkness
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 23:30:23

    Hello Kimberly. My name is Mark Harkness and I’m the director of the international student ministry in Albany who helped those students find out about the conference in Orlando. One of the IFM folks directed me to your blog. Thank you so much for your testimony. Thank you for opening your home and your lives and loving on this family in the name of Jesus. Thank you for all that you were able to share with them during that time. You guys are awesome, but so is our God. Many blessings.


    • kimzhis
      Jan 31, 2013 @ 11:26:31

      Hi Mark! THANK YOU for the work you do amongst the international students there! It is so incredible to be able to share Christ with the nations right in our own homes,our own towns. God has brought the nations TO US. It is a mighty privilege and responsibility…thank you for not wasting that opportunity. I will pray for your ministry, that God would bless and expand it!


  3. Trackback: Where is Baby Jesus? | the least of these...

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