Martie, Jodie and Donna treated us to a lovely meal at the YMCA.  Below, Martie receiving the gift... a memory book (photo on the right below) in appreciation and honor of her husband, Buddy, who introduced Evangelism Explosion (EE) to all of Asia.

Thank you for your prayers for Cindy, as she did the training last week. There were 13 missionaries from eight different countries that were in the group that she team facilitated with another couple. It was an intense week, with training for several hours every day, and preparation for the next day in the evening.

I also managed to stay more than busy while she was gone, in fact busier than normal, with several special events. One was a gathering of the “old” teachers, who were teaching in United Christian College in the first term after Cindy and I came to Hong Kong. 175-1979. We've had a few gatherings in the past, but this one was the largest with the most teachers present. What instigated it was a visits from Australia and the United Kingdom by a couple of the former teachers. It was fun recounting old memories, and catching up on each others’ lives.

On Tuesday evening we had a farewell dinner for my colleague in the ministry for the past year and a half, Lea Chik.  Her last day at the church was yesterday. I already posted pictures of that event on Facebook last Thursday, when I sent out the RiverGrace newsletter.

The weekend was busy with Martie Gaines, her daughter Jodie, and their friend Donna, who came to Hong Kong for a memorial service for Martie’s late husband, Buddy, who passed away last January.

We've known the Gaines family since we first arrived in Hong Kong. Their family, along with some other OMS missionaries. took us to a restaurant right after we got off the plane for Cindy’s and my first taste of genuine Chinese food. Buddy and Marty served in Hong Kong as OMS missionaries until 1978.

I could tell many funny stories of those years, few as they were, as we’ve they've been special friends all these years we arrived in Hong Kong.

Buddy was honored at a service on Saturday night. arranged by the Evangelism Explosion ministry (An evangelistic training and tool). Buddy hosted the first EE clinic in Hong Kong (and Asia) round 1978 or 79. I taped that clinic with an old reel to reel tape recorder.  

After his time in Hong Kong Buddy spent the next 30 years seconded from OMS to the EE based in Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, where Dr. D. James Kennedy had started EE. Buddy’s spread of EE has now been responsible for millions of people coming to the Lord through the EE, which is now used in every country of the world.

In the Mainland there’s an training center dedicated to training EE leaders around the country.  They are going to name the main training hall after Buddy.

Buddy was one of my spiritual heroes in his passion for evangelism. He lived and breathed it. I’ve often joked that Buddy is the only person I know who could get on the elevator with a stranger on the 8th floor of a building and would have shared the gospel with them by the time they got to the bottom.  Seriously, it’s not too much of a stretch!

There are lots of activities coming up in the next couple of weeks. We’re late this year getting the tree up, but I just did it a few minutes ago, and put on the lights as well. Cindy always decks the house out for Christmas… even putting some decorations in the bathrooms!

Anyhow, that’s enough for this week. Make it a great week, and enjoy the Christmas season wherever you may be.  Blessings, Dave


Where Is God

     In a certain home town there lived a cobbler, Martin Avdeitch by name. He lived in a small basement room whose one window looked out onto the street, and all he could see were the feet of people passing by. But since there was hardly a pair of boots that had not been in his hands at one time for repair, Martin recognized each person by his shoes. Day after day, he would work in his shop, watching boots pass by. One day he found himself consumed with the hope of a dream that he would find the Lord’s feet outside his window. Instead, he found a lingering pair of worn boots belonging to an old soldier. Though at first disappointed, Martin realized the old man might be hungry and invited him inside to a warm fire and some tea. He had other visitors that evening, and though sadly none were Christ, he let them in also. Sitting down at the end of day, Martin heard a voice whisper his name as he read the words: “I was hungry and you gave me meat; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in. Inasmuch as you did for the least of these, you did unto me.”(1)

     Every Christmas, our family reads the story of Martin the Cobbler as an aid to our celebration. Tolstoy’s words offer something of a creative attempt to capture the wonder of a God who comes near and helps us picture the gift of Christ among us in accessible terms. Notably, the story was originally titled, Where God Is, Love Is.

     The Christian story that informs the Christian calendar gives its followers time and opportunity to remember the coming of Christ in a specific context—in Bethlehem, in the Nativity, in the first Christmas. But it also presents repeated opportunities and reminders to prepare for the coming of Christ again and again. Like Martin eagerly waiting at the window, the Christian worldview is one that asks of every day of every year: How will Christ come near today? Will I wait for him? Am I ready for him? Am I even expecting to find him? We are reminded to keep watch, to be prepared, and to continually ready our hearts and minds for the one who is already near. At the same time, the Christian story would also have us to remember how unexpectedly Christ at times appears—as a baby in Bethlehem, a man on a cross, as a woman in need.

     In the book of Titus, we read that “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people.” How and where will grace show up this week? In order to stay alert to the rich possibilities, perhaps we need to keep before us the radical thought of all that God has offered: a Christ child who comes down to us, a redeemer willing to die for us, a God willing to redefine what is near—all so that we might be where God is. Christianity is not an escape system for us to avoid reality, to live above it, or to be able to redefine it. Christianity is a way that leads the world to grasp what reality is and, by God’s grace and help, to navigate through it to our eternal home in God’s presence.

     The story God has given indeed feeds the hungry, takes in the stranger, and orients the resident alien who is ever-looking homeward. The focus of Christ’s coming is the message of Immanuel—God is with us. The focus of Christ’s earthly ministry is the declaration of the cross—God is for us. And the focus of Christ’s resurrection is the promise of a future and his imminent return—God will bring us safely home. Until then, God is among us, even when it seems most unlikely.

- Stuart McAllister is regional director for the Americas at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Story told in Leo Tolstoy’s, Walk in the Light While There Is Light and Twenty-three Tales (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003).

@A Slice of Infinity - go to to subscribe


The software version of the 12 days of Christmas (without all the repetition the song has)

12. For the twelfth bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:

Tell them it's a feature

Say it's not supported

Change the documentation

Blame it on the hardware

Find a way around it

Say they need an upgrade

Reinstall the software

Ask for a dump

Run with the debugger

Try to reproduce it

Ask them how they did it and

See if they can do it again.


The "Politically Correct" Days of Christmas...

     On the 12th day of the Euro-centrically imposed midwinter festival, my Significant Other in a consenting adult,  monogamous relationship gave to me:

TWELVE males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming,

ELEVEN pipers piping (plus the 18-member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their union contract even though they will not  be asked to play a note),

TEN melanin deprived testosterone-poisoned scions of the patriarchal ruling class system leaping,

NINE   persons engaged in rhythmic self-expression,

EIGHT  economically disadvantaged female persons stealing milk-products from enslaved Bovine Americans,

SEVEN  endangered swans swimming on federally protected wetlands,

SIX  enslaved Fowl Americans producing stolen non-human animal products,

FIVE   golden symbols of culturally sanctioned enforced domestic incarceration, (NOTE: after members of the Animal Liberation Front threatened  to throw red paint at my computer, the calling birds, French hens and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoid further Animal American enslavement, the  remaining gift package has been revised.)

FOUR hours of recorded whale songs

THREE deconstructionist poets

TWO  Sierra Club calendars printed on recycled processed tree carcasses  and...

ONE  Spotted Owl activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.

     Merry Christmas  Happy Chanukah. Good Kwanzaa.  Blessed Yule. Oh, nuts! Happy Holidays!!!! (unless otherwise prohibited by law) *

     *Unless, of course, you are suffering from Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD). If this be the case, please substitute this gratuitous call for celebration with suggestion that you have  a thoroughly adequate day.

@Sent by John Nealis


Searching through row upon row of Christmas trees, my husband Norm and I picked one we liked. Then I noticed the one being held by a woman nearby "the" perfect tree. I watched as she carried it around the lot and couldn't believe my eyes when she set it aside. I ditched ours and ran over to grab the coveted tree. "Aren't we lucky?" I said to Norm. "I do feel a little guilty, however, for taking it before she could change her mind." "I wouldn't worry," he replied. "She just ran over and snatched ours."  Contributed to READER'S DIGEST, "Life In These United States" by Vicki Salvensen


Martha Stewart Holiday Calendar

December 1 - Blanch carcass from Thanksgiving turkey.  Spray paint gold, turn upside   down and use as a sleigh to hold Christmas Cards.

December 2 -  Have Mormon Tabernacle Choir record outgoing Christmas message for  answering machine.

December 3 -   Using candlewick and hand-gilded miniature pine cones, fashion   cat-o-nine-tails. Flog Gardener.

December 4  -  Repaint Sistine Chapel ceiling in ecru, with mocha trim.

December 5 -  Get new eyeglasses.  Grind lenses myself.

December 6 - Fax family Christmas newsletter to Pulitzer committee for consideration.

December 7 - Debug the latest Windows operating system

December 10 -  Align carpets to adjust for curvature of Earth.

December 11 - Lay Faberge egg.

December 12 - Take Dog apart. Disinfect.  Reassemble.

December 13 - Collect Dentures.  They make excellent pastry cutters, particularly for decorative pie crusts.

December 14 - Install plumbing in gingerbread house.

December 15 - Replace air in minivan tires with Glade "holiday scents" in case tires are shot out at mall.

December 17 -  Child proof the Christmas tree with garland of razor wire.

December 19 - Adjust legs of chairs so each Christmas dinner guest will be same

height when sitting at his or her assigned seat.

December 20 - Dip sheep and cows in egg whites and roll in confectioner's sugar to create a festive sparkle to the pasture.

December 21 - Drain city reservoir; refill with mulled cider, orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

December 22 - Float votive candles in toilet tank.

December 23 - Seed clouds for white Christmas.

December 24 - Do my annual good deed.  Go to several stores.  Be seen engaged in last minute Christmas shopping, thus making many people feel less inadequate than they really are.

December 25 - Bear son.  Swaddle.  Lay in color coordinated manger scented with   homemade potpourri.

December 26 - Organize spice racks by genus and phylum.

December 27 - Build snowman in exact likeness of God.

December 31 - New Year's Eve!   Give staff their resolutions.  Call a friend in each

time zone of the world as the clock strikes midnight in that country.

"Old" teachers of United Christian College... and yes, I'm one of them!

Monday Fodder - December 14, 2015