Today our 4 men and 3 ladies are journeying east about 110 kilometers to another city in the Orient. It is another large city with approximately 2 million people that live and work in this important seaport and trading center. In fact, it is one of the most important ports in Southeast Asia. Expanding commerce through foreign investment has fueled economic rates of growth, exceeding 10% per annum over the last decade.
There are many wonderful foods to sample in this city. Soups, specifically noodle soups, play an important role in local cuisine. Noodle soup is made with white vermicelli noodles, sliced beef or chicken, bean sprouts, basil chopped peanuts, hot broth and mint leaves that is served piping hot and at all hours of the day. Noodle soup stalls can be found all over the country.
When a steaming bowl is put in front of you, you spice it up with bean sauce, chili sauce and squeeze in a few lime wedges; with a pair of chopsticks in one hand (to lift up the noodles to cool them off) and a spoon in the other (to lift the noodles to your mouth), before you know it, you have slurped up the entire bowl of liquid health. I actually feel invigorated with energy and vitality after enjoying this meal. There are other meals to try that are equally enjoyable such as a special white cake that is made from rice and filled with meat and eaten together with special sauce. There is also a sweetened porridge made of beans, glutinous rice and mostly grapefruit and is served with coconut sauce and dry-salted coconut slices.
The fruit harvested this time of year is also noteworthy. There are durian, grapes, guava, watermelon, custard apples, jack fruit, pineapple, coconuts, pomelos, dragon fruit, logon, bananas, litchi and clementine oranges brought by the basketful. But my favorite meal particularly known in this city, includes the bounty of the sea. Fresh, sweet and juicy prawns, mollusks or crab come to the table, placidly resting on a mountainous bed of white rice with a heaping bowl of greens called marigolds that are served as a side. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! However, as much as I enjoy the food and it is spectacular, more than anything, I long for the young people of this country to know Christ.
David, in the Psalms is a great example for us. We have the privilege of reading his love letters to God. He speaks openly of his deep love and longing for God. While in the wilderness of Judah, God inspired him to write Ps 63: 1-8 and it says,
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because You’re steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in Your name I will lift up my hands”.
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me”.
The precious young people of this country are in the wilderness, the darkness, without hope, without God. Oh, that they would find your rescuing love, Father… and be satisfied as with fat and rich food. Please open their eyes to their need and to your arms wide open. Please “give light to these who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death and guide [their] feet into the way of peace (Luke 1: 29). For we know that your “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5).
You “came into the world, as light, so that whoever believes in [You] will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). So, Father, we pray for our fellows. You have made them “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for your own possession…[and You have prepared these seven, 4 men and 3 ladies] “to proclaim [Your] excellencies calling those out of darkness into [Your] marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Thank You for what You are about to do. Amen.