20 June 2006

Garlic and it's Usefulness

They say garlic helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, helps insomniacs to sleep and repels mosquitos and unwanted creeps at bars. Or everybody, really. But you might not have known garlic as a bringer of the heavenly kingdom.

Wednesday nights bring an opportunity to pick up a little Chinese in a semi-organized fashion. For the past semester, my usual teacher is a friend of our hosts Yule and YiWen. He is a principal at a school about an hour's drive away from ChiaYi. Despite the distance, he and his wife come every Wednesday night to teach Chinese for a few hours. I know him as Principal Hong.

Willing conversationalists, Principal Hong and I usually engage in discussion that wanders all over, even revealing a mutual interest in birds. This topic led us on an adventure to a wildlife reserve specifically for the black-faced spoonbills, who make their winter home here in Taiwan. Even though the flock could only be seen through a telescope, it was a breathtaking experience.

Even so, all attempts to talk about the Gospel had been heretofore rebuffed. When I seemed to have an in and ask if he'd like to hear about my faith, for example, he would chuckle and say, "No thanks."

Last Wednesday night, the foreign teachers invited all our Chinese teachers to a dinner we would prepare. I told the principal that we would be having a spaghetti dinner, an adopted American dish. He asked if there would be garlic in it. "Oh yes," I replied, "We love garlic."

"Really?" he said. "Is this a Taiwanese influence? Taiwanese cook with garlic a lot. I heard Americans used garlic to keep evil away."

"Most Americans probably haven't done that since the 1800's."

"Then what do you use to keep evil away?"

And just like that, we entered the discussion of the Message from the angle of good and evil spirits' influence in our lives. By grace, the Holy Spirit had stirred up many questions in this devout Buddhist, keeping us talking for at least an hour. At some point, YiWen (the Gospel Enabler) deposited a Bible in front of us, which was even more useful than garlic.

Give glory to God that he leads wandering hearts back to his own. Pray that the Holy Spirit would grow this seed into full faith, breaking down the influence of deceptive evil spirits and showing a need for dependent repentance.