Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

Life in Korea

Tatsuya Shindo – The Commitment of a Yakuza Preacher

Tatsuya Shindo was a gangster in Japan.  More precisely he was a Yakuza.

He converted to Christianity in one of his prison stints and is now a pastor/preacher in a converted bar.  You can read more about him here.

What really inspired me, and should encourage every church planter, was his commitment to preaching.  After he became a Christian in prison, he felt called to be a pastor and to preach the gospel.  According to his testimony at the TTGU Chapel, he preached for 6 months only to a dog.  That was his only audience, but he persevered because he believed that God called  him to preach the Gospel.

How many of us have displayed and will display that kind of commitment and perseverence?

Now he has been blessed by the Lord.  His church is full and he has been used by God for a revival in some of Japan’s toughest jails.

Praise the Lord and let’s keep our brother Tatsuya Shindo and Japan in our prayers.  Maybe revival in Japan will start from the prison!?


Christmas in Korea 2011 – Christmas Is for Those Who Hate It Most

I am still in Seoul.  And it is cold (-5C).  But thank God for my warm office (thanks to my portable heater) and so much more!

While I am still preaching through Isaiah 9:6 (I should preach on Sunday on “Prince of Peace”) I find it easier to borrow from someone else than to write my own Christmas thoughts (I may have more to say on Saturday evening, but that is kind of late :)).

So here is a fine writing from Matt Redmond about Christmas:
Christmas Is for Those Who Hate It Most.

Great points and hard to argue with the man!

Here are some of my favorite lines:

“I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays…Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone…Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place…Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.”


Progress after 5 Weeks – ACL, Meniscus, and PLRI Surgery

Today there are 5 weeks after my operation. My ACL was reconstructed, my meniscus was repaired, and another ligament was reconstructed (PLRI?). They found out that this other ligament was (partially?) torn when they introduced the arthroscope (with a small camera) before the operation. For my ACL they used some of my hamstring for the replacement, while for the PLRI (?) they used an allograft (ligament from a dead guy L). That means I am now partially Korean! J

The first week was in a way the hardest, but it wasn’t terrible because I was sedated fairly well! J

I would say that the hardest thing during this whole process was the lack of sleep during the night. While this was no doubt due to the fact that I was sleeping during the day a few hours (what else can you do when you are in bed all day?), even when I skipped the daily naps (after 3-4 weeks) I had a hard time sleeping through the night. It was not because of pain. I was never in major pain, but it was uncomfortable to sleep with the knee brace and I just could not sleep well.

There were nights when I slept less than 3 hours (though I would sleep a few hours in the morning) and I am still having a hard time getting a decent night sleep, despite the fact that I sometimes take sleep medicine (doesn’t seem to have much effect). It is not prescription medicine.

At the five week point, my knee is still a bit swollen (and also my ankle), but I can bend my knee to about 120 degrees.

Next week I am supposed to get rid of the crutches. Praise the Lord.

I feel that I could walk without them now (?), but I will take it easy and follow the doctor’s advice.

For the past two weeks I have been preaching sitting on a chair for the first service (http://www.hcc.or.kr/worship1_2.asp; I am the nameless guy :)), and standing (on one leg) for the second (this is not recorded)!  So far so good!  I did not think the first time that I can stand in one leg for the whole sermon! Miracles are possible! 🙂

Over all – the recovery process is long and painful (the strengthening exercises are a bit painful for a person with terrible flexibility like me)! I hope and pray, however, that things will get better soon.

I can’t wait to walk without crutches and I hope and pray with many that the meniscus is healing well and the reconstructions are successful.

The surgery (with the roughly $1600 for the allograft) cost me about $5000. This is after the help/support from the national insurance. I just found out that my private insurance just paid about $3000, and they may pay a bit more after I give them the receipt from the allograft (that was only partially paid). In any case – so far I am happy that I may end up with less than $2000 from my own pocket. Praise the Lord!

Please pray for me so I can play in Brazil 2014!!! J

Well – really – play that I can be back to normal by 2012!

Thank you and many blessings to all!

Cristian R


Life in Korea – Hospital Days (3 – The Food)

One thing I remember about missions with Americans in Romania is the breakfast. The Americans liked Romanian breakfast, but after a while they had enough. It was too repetitive – almost every day we had branza (cheese = usually feta), pita (bread) si rosii (and tomatoes). [That does not mean that Romanians do not have other options for breakfast, but usually that is what we had during the summer]. This has a slight parallel to the food here in this Korean hospital. I do not know how hospital food is in other countries, but here it is very predictable.

[All I remember about the food in Romanian hospitals comes from my mother. She was always bringing me the best possible food, and that was not easy during communism when stores were mostly empty. I was drinking peach juice (nectar) etc. From all I remember, there was no food provided by the hospital. You had to bring your own!?]

There are three meals a day here and all of them have rice and kimchi. It does not matter if it is morning or evening, rice (mostly white) and kimchi are always on my plate. They always have a soup (and this is usually different every day), and two other small side dishes. There is a lot of variety for the side dishes!

Most of the food is quite spicy and real flavor (except the spiciness) is not to be found in this hospital Korean cuisine. Thank God for the food my wife brings me etc.

One thing is for certain – I am looking forward to go back home to some outstanding home cooking! But then again, like my mother, my wife is no regular cook! J


Life in Korea – Hospital Days (Part 2)

After a couple of days I was moved in the same room with 4 young guys (19 to 24 years old). They were all fairly athletic, which makes sense because this is a sports hospital. One physical therapist bragged that Park Chu-Young was here last month. Some of the doctors here have photos around the hospital with various famous Korean athletes (Park Ji-Sung etc.). At least one of them seems to be (or to have been) associated with the Korean soccer team.

What surprised me very much in this room was the almost complete lack of communication between patients. I can understand the lack of communication with me because of the language barrier (and perhaps also because of the age difference). But I was surprised to see that almost nobody was communicating in this hospital room.

This lack of communication became most evident when we watched Korea-Australia in Asian Cup 2011. While at that time almost everyone in the room watched the game and people cheered when Korea scored (it ended 1-1), again – there was almost a complete lack of communication.

This is a bit shocking to me, because in a Romanian hospital (I have never been in an American hospital) the patients would probably play chess, backgammon etc…And if there was an important football game, you can bet that they would argue about the line-up, the refs, the coach (in Romania every soccer fan is a better coach than the national coach J) etc.

Now – this is an orthopedic hospital and almost all of us are limping (a few had hand surgeries), so I can see how it would be difficult to play games. But not to argue during an important soccer game, or at least discuss the game, is very very surprising.

Some explanations from my friends:

  1. We were all too drugged! I suppose this is possible, but we weren’t that badly drugged after a few days.
  2. They were all expecting for me to open the discussion because I was the oldest!?
  3. ???

In any case – thank God that people are very friendly here, even if it is in a very silent kind of way! J


Life in Korea – Hospital Days (Part I)

Here I am at United Hospital (any relationship with Manchester United is probably intentional) overlooking the Yang-jae intersection (about 15 minutes walk from my school and Onurri Church).  I can see exits 6 and 7 of the Yang-jae subway station and KFC from my window on the 7th floor! Wave if you happen to be there! 🙂

I haven’t been in a hospital for about 30 years (I was in the hospital in Romania for hepatitis in 1982 or so).  For less than two days (right after the operation) I was in a two-person room, but I was moved yesterday in a six-person room.  I am told that my insurance covers this!?

It seems that the hospital experience is a family experience in Korea.  Under my bed there is another bed that can be pulled out and used.  One person in my room has his girlfriend (?) staying and sleeping there and one has his mother.

Beds in Korean Hospital

When I was in the two-persons room (I was mostly by myself because the other bed was empty) a new patient came.  His mother, father, grandparents and sisters (?) also showed up and they filled the refrigerator (I only had some water and juice) probably feeling sorry for me for having so few things in the refrigerator (?).

It seems that family members can come and leave any time they wish (at least here; this is an orthopedic hospital).

There is no doubt that this society understands well the importance of family in the healing/comforting/encouraging process.

How sad that the church misses many times the importance of community/family in the healing process.  It is never too late to learn and apply!

Isaiah didn’t want to visit me in the first day because he was very sad that his dad was in the hospital.  When he heard that I was feeling better, he couldn’t wait to come the second day.  He came the second day and did not really want to leave…but I needed the rest! 🙂

I finally feel that the toes to my right leg are fine…that is an improvement!

 


Time to Quit FACEBOOK???

I just read a very convicting article by Jonathan Dodson for deleting my FACEBOOK account!

The one that I find the most compelling (and kind of scary!) is the following:

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David Calvin and Why Calvin Still Matters

On a more personal note, David Calvin (our second son) was born more than one month ago (July 31st).  He eats a lot and sleeps (of course he cries too!).

As most of you know, David Calvin Rata was born 500 years (to the month) after Jean Calvin and that is the reason for his middle name (NO – he is NOT named for Calvin Klein :))!

My wife has done an excellent job of posting all kinds of great pictures with our family.  Take a look when you have some time.

So – why did we name him Calvin?  Is it because Calvin once mattered?

[“There can be no serious doubt that Calvin once mattered. Any honest historian of any point of view and of any religious conviction would agree that Calvin was one of the most important people in the history of western civilization.”]

YES he was named after Calvin because of who Calvin was.  But he is also named Calvin because Calvin Still Matters!

Please pray with us that David Calvin will be a talented poet like David, and a man with a passion for the glory of God (like Jean Calvin)! AMEN!


Mother of the Year – 2009

Well – better later than never.  Most of you probably know by now that my beloved wife won the 2009 Mother of the Year.

All I can say is, “It’s about time.”  She definitely deserves it for the hard work raising Isaiah, while also preparing for the coming of David in July.

For those of you who find it hard to believe (though I have no idea why) that my wife actually won this award, take a look at the clip below.  The evidence is overwhelming!

Mother of the Year 2009

Happy Mother’s day sweetheart!  In Korean – Happy Mother’s Day yobo!


TV and Sex – No Surprises Here

Perhaps I should have entitled this post: “Another Reason Why You Should Kill Your Television!” For I have mostly killed mine and the news that I just read (see below) only strenghtens my decison. 

I “killed” mine by disconnecting the cable, so I can only watch selected DVDs (and that is not very often since Isaiah came on the scene 🙂 ).

The news that I am talking about can be found here.  It seems that “Marriage gets little respect on network TV shows that instead revel in the pleasures of extramarital and even kinky sex, according to a study released Tuesday.”

The whole study is really disturbing:

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