April 5, 2021

It Happened Here Too…Again!

 

Ni Hao 你好 from Beijing, China!                                                           Easter Monday 2021

Yesterday many thousands of people did it here in this capital city of over twenty million people. Many millions across this entire nation, the most populous in the world, did it too. Some were on screens. Many wore masks and shared waves and bumps instead of hugs and handshakes.  Many met in different places because they no longer possess the venues they used last year. All had to weather the Motherland’s intense efforts to “protect religious people” from sickness – apparently viruses spread more in churches, mosques, and temples than they do in bars, sports stadiums, and massage parlors.

Yes, lots of us here in Beijing, China stepped into the stream of those who have worshipped the Risen Lord Jesus Christ since those who kneeled at His feet before His empty tomb two thousand years ago. Yesterday brought new challenges to our gathering. It was the first time this congregation met in the workplace of one of their members. Worst of all, there was no PowerPoint – but somehow the Holy Spirit managed to show up without it. Most of us here in China plan to meet next Sunday too.

Our preacher yesterday shared new insights from a familiar text – Jesus on the Emmaus Road from Luke 24. This rich slice of Scripture holds wonderful treasures; seeing Jesus through all Scripture “Moses…all the Prophets…in all the Scriptures” (v. 27) – ongoing union with God by the Spirit through the Word “Did not our hearts burn within us…while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (v. 32) – and fresh courage when one meets the Risen Lord “they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem” (v. 33). We heard those great truths yesterday, with an insightful Covid application. Jesus sought two disciples who wandered away from the fellowship of believers; and when they had a fresh meeting with Him they ran back to join the brethren in Jerusalem. How many of us who have grown comfortable watching church wearing pajamas need that nudge?

Tomb Sweeping Day

Full disclosure, there were many more Chinese sweeping tombs yesterday than worshipping Jesus. Tomb Sweeping Day coincided with Easter this year. Families travel to relative’s graves to pay their respects, a Confucian form of posthumous respect and filial piety for ancestors.




Paper money, smart phones, cars, iPads, and luxury handbags – are sent to ancestors by burning while family members show their respect by bowing. I am not sure if there are tech instructors to help great-granny operate their new iPhone 12’s sent by burning paper to the Netherworld?

Those of us who follow the true and living God in China pray that as our foolish friends burn bucks and tidy tombs they will reflect on their life after death. Perhaps they will think about that crazy family member – friend – work colleague – former classmate – bar buddy – college classmate – or that smiling old man who cleans their apartment complex – who told them Jesus’ promise of Resurrection and Life. The old ‘tell somebody who will tell somebody’ still works best to spread the Good News here.

Visit from the Gobi

You can see how a billion people burning paper goodies for their ancestors does not help our breathing in China. In our 12 years here, we have never traveled to the Gobi Desert, so the sands of the Gobi paid us a visit during March. We had several ‘yellow sky’ days. The air quality measurement for Beijing soared beyond the index levels. We will not miss this part of life here.


Different views of Beijing’s Forbidden City within the same week last month!

New Adventures Ahead

Our plan is to leave China in June, finishing our work here. We look back on the last 12 years with praise for all the Lord has done. We treasure friendships with brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world that we made here. At this point we hear His call to “Leave” more clearly than where He commands to “Land!” But we trust the Lord who has guided us through 40 years of global mission has a corner of his harvest field for us to serve for the next season.

Mark and Dayna, Easter 2021

We plan to land in Portland, Oregon and visit with family there. We are car shopping now. Sometime in late summer we hope to drive East and see friends.

We hope to visit family, friends, and churches in California this coming winter.  And then perhaps return to Hawaii in the first quarter of 2022, God willing.

A Work in Progress

Mark is busy writing our mission story. He has finished the rough draft of our Uganda years. It is in need of editing. It might be helpful if you have insomnia…

https://www.dropbox.com/s/9017ktkikvztmvy/The%20View%20from%20Under%20the%20Bus%20-%20Uganda%20April%202021.pdf?dl=0

We hope to see many of you in the coming months. Please let us know your availability, we are putting the pins in our USA map phone app…it has a world map too!

Yours in the Joy of our Risen Savior, Mark and Dayna Blair

 

Our Mission   Pioneers - 10123 William Carey Dr - Orlando, FL 32832 USA       

 

Checks to ‘Pioneers’ – with attached note: ‘Mark and Dayna Blair, Beijing.’                       

Electronic transfers: https://give.pioneers.org/p-75-give-to-a-missionary-or-project.aspx 

(Our Account # is 110565, Mark and Dayna Blair)

 Email blairstan2@gmail.com  Or blairstan@psmail.net  (secure)

 

Blog  www.blairstan.blogspot.com

 Web Site  www.pastormarkblair.org

 








January 1, 2021

The Year of our Lord 2021

 

January 2021 A.D. In the Year of our Lord


Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year!

Those lucky bugs who have enjoyed a living Christmas tree must face a sad day. Before long, the fresh scent will be gone, and you will tire of sweeping pine needles. So, the tree is taken out the door and disposed of however your town deems ecologically acceptable.

But if you know the true reason people decorate all those trees, you have an eternal evergreen. What the cherubim and a flaming sword blocked from our guilty parents in Eden has been prepared for you – supersized by Gospel grace!

Jesus came to reveal God!

Jesus died to redeem sinners!

Jesus is coming to renew all things!

 

Mercy prevented fallen Adam and Eve from accessing the tree of life. I certainly am thankful these creaky bones are not my eternal abode. Yet, wonderfully, God’s everlasting mercy now invites us to a new heaven and new earth where we’ll TikTok in new bodies. The Lord has already landscaped His city with multiple trees of life along the riverside.

Those life-giving trees from God and the Lamb will never lose their leaves. Those leaves symbolize the transformational healing God will give His saints from every nation – not just the people but also their politics, all saints, and all structures. God’s final healing will not be a band aid, a feeble punishment soon escaped by presidential pardon. No, God’s healing will make everything irreversibly right. We will see even the worst things somehow worked for our good, and His glory. Get ready for a celebration that neither COVID nor King Herod can cancel.


This is our sure and certain hope. God is truth. He cannot lie. These are His promises. Since Jesus is the coming and current King, we should embrace 2021 as “the year of our Lord.” Is your ultimate trust in vaccines and government economic recovery plans or the One who “heals all our diseases” and has “the government on His shoulders?” Even though we have no idea what


Maylee in Almaty

  Josiah, Nathan, Makana, Heather, Kekoa, and Aaron in Oregon

 the ‘news’ will be, we already know this is the real story. The coming year and every year to come belongs to Him.

January 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of our mission career. In January 1981 Mark went to Uganda with Professors Harvie Conn and Jack Miller and 8 Westminster Theological Seminary students. That young kid would never have imagined having such a life-long mission partner,  (we look forward to our 39th wedding anniversary January 9) the great people and interesting places we would serve, and how faithful our support team would be – love, prayers, and provision from God and His people have kept us going all these years!

Words cannot convey our appreciation as we follow Him into this New Year in Beijing!!

Trusting Him with you for all our tomorrows, Mark and Dayna Blair


Praise Him with Us

We live in a very COVID-safe city! (…yes, that fact drips with irony and paradox!)

Churches can’t meet but we all gotta eat! So, our new ‘pulpit’ is our dining room table, sharing life with old and new friends.

God has wonderfully cared for our family, stretched half-way around the world.

Please Pray with Us

COVID restrictions have limited church gatherings including some of our opportunities.

Our son Josiah has moved to Portland and needs wisdom and direction for this next chapter of his life.

Mark is trying to write the story of our life in mission.

Our Mission   Pioneers - 10123 William Carey Dr - Orlando, FL 32832 USA       

 

Checks to ‘Pioneers’ – with attached note: ‘Mark and Dayna Blair, Beijing.’                       

Electronic transfers: https://give.pioneers.org/p-75-give-to-a-missionary-or-project.aspx 

(Our Account # is 110565, Mark and Dayna Blair)

 Email blairstan2@gmail.com  Or blairstan@psmail.net  (secure)

 

Blog  www.blairstan.blogspot.com

 Web Site  www.pastormarkblair.org

   

·  At least 1.5 billion people do not have the full Bible in their language.

·  At least 7,000 languages are spoken or signed around the world.

·  At least 2,000 languages still need a Bible translation started.

·  Gospel ministry is being done in more than 2,700 languages worldwide.

Source: Wycliffe Global Alliance, October 2020

October 26, 2020

New Horizons in the Homeland

Greetings in the Name of the Prince of Peace,

 These are days for Christians to rejoice that “the government is on His shoulders.” Our world’s impressive human statues have “feet of clay.” Praise Jesus – King of kings and Lord of lords!


Four years ago an Elder from Nigeria asked me who I was for in the upcoming US presidential vote. I was a bit surprised that he cared, because frankly I didn’t! I was glad to be an ocean away, not thrilled with either choice. He kindly chided me that it did matter as the holder of that office would impact the world, including Nigeria. Just sayin’…


Thanks so much for your prayers and support for us. We are excited for the new doors He is opening. Last month we began our weekly sessions with pastors and preachers from the nearby 3-Self church. (‘Three-Self’ is the large government sanctioned Protestant church in China. Three-Self is from the missionary axiom of Henry Venn and Rufus Anderson in the 1800’s teaching three principles - self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation - i.e. indigenous missionary work, independence from foreigners.)

 


Dayna the English teacher and Mark the theologian! Usually our first hour is practicing the pronunciation of theological words, the second is studying the meaning of Philippians (the book we will all be preaching through) and learning to pronounce the words correctly! Join us in praying that the Lord of the Harvest will raise up a generation that will ‘sound His trumpet’ clearly and faithfully for many years here in this land. 

Several churches have been gathering for the last couple weeks. They are learning ‘new ministries’ like advanced reservation booking, mask checking, people spacing, hand sanitizing, and consoling people stuck ‘outside the gate’ because there is not enough room approved for them to safely enter. Thank God He never will turn away those who call upon His Name!


Serving the Beijing International Christian Fellowship

We really enjoyed going to the outskirts of Beijing with the BICF Support Staff, speaking to them on the theme they chose, “A Better Rest,” from Hebrews 3 &  4 and Psalm 30.



Last week Mark had the privilege of joining the BICF Men’s Retreat as one of their speakers. We had a great time on a beautiful autumn weekend. Borrowing a title from one of my favorite preachers I spoke on “The Whole Christ.” (If you want to fine tune your Gospel understanding as your heart fills with fresh gratitude, read that book by Sinclair Ferguson!)


Travels in the Motherland

For a decade living in China we’ve heard tales about Kunming ‘city of eternal spring’ and its district YunNan.  YunNan is home to dozens of minority tribes with a rich mission history (look up James Frazier) with more history waiting to be made. Some regions chart 80% Christian, others remain largely untouched by His great news.  


So, with much anticipation we boarded a flight from Beijing. After long months of COVID lockdown, going to the airport was a wondrous new experience - this time with face masks, Health Check apps on phones – from Beijing and Yunnan - and gobs of hand sanitizer.

 




We traveled with dear friends who know the nation and the language and a new friend with years of experience in YunNan. She gave years climbing the region’s steep mountains reaching remote peoples with the deeds and doctrines of Jesus. She brought faith in Jesus and medical training to dozens of aspiring ‘community health evangelists.’ We unexpectedly dropped in on several of them to find them faithfully serving the people of their communities.

 One man we met was the ‘least likely to succeed’ when he showed up for the training over a decade ago. He came from a remote mountain village a day’s walk from any road. He is one of four sons of Christian parents – now in their 80’s still farming a small, steep, patch of rocky ground. Maybe somebody forgot to tell him the course was in Mandarin – which as Lisu he did not read or even speak! When our doctor friend met this young man from the remote mountains she was impressed by his earnest desire to learn how to help his people. She sponsored his private tutor of Mandarin! He squeaked through the training in his newly acquired

language and returned home as a doctor. It took some time for the village that had watched him grow up to trust him as their doctor. At that time there were more popular physicians in residence.  But eventually people wearied of their high fees for poor results. Our humble friend was the one who came in the middle of the night, no matter how much people could afford, and often knowing the right remedy. Now the last has become first. Not only is he an exceedingly busy doctor. The village trusts him so much he is their “mayor” and an elder of their church! What a privilege to meet ‘family members’ so very different but forever linked in the things that matter most. We’ll spend eternity in a place with no language barriers.




We drove several hours through majestic steep canyons hosting the Mekong River – it’s called the Lancang in China. We crossed the river several times, even strapped to a cable!

 



Then we flew from the north to south YunNan. Xishuangbanna is home of the Dai people. If it sounds like Thai, points for your ethnography! They’re form the same people group. When we got out of the plane we thought we were in Thailand. China encourages people who want to see Thailand to come spend their vacation money in the Motherland. But if it is not authentic Thai enough for you there is a highway direct to Thailand – soon there will be a high-speed train!




While Dayna and Terry enjoyed this Night Market, Mark fit in better here?! :)


 Yours in Him who loves every tribe and nation! Mark and Dayna Blair

 

Our Mission  Pioneers - 10123 William Carey Dr - Orlando, FL 32832 USA       

 

Checks to ‘Pioneers’ – with attached note: ‘Mark and Dayna Blair, Beijing.’                       

Electronic transfers: https://give.pioneers.org/p-75-give-to-a-missionary-or-project.aspx 

(Our Account # is 110565, Mark and Dayna Blair)

 

Email blairstan2@gmail.com  Or blairstan@psmail.net  (secure)

 

Blog  www.blairstan.blogspot.com

 

Web Site  www.pastormarkblair.org

 

 

September 9, 2020

New Doors Open!

 

Aloha from Beijing,                                                                          September 2020

There is a lot happening here and sometimes it feels like nothing is happening - at the same time! Perhaps you are feeling a similar “hurry up and wait” frustration as the world prays for the COVID scourge to subside.

We are so grateful for your prayers and support in this time of transition. We have had some good conversations with friends/churches about opportunities in various parts of the world. But we have been thinking about the words of our Pastor Svendsen, “when you are in the fog, anchor!” We have a visa to stay in China until next June, many workers cannot get back in, we are in good standing with our Beijing International Christian Fellowship, we have an apartment we are sharing with our son, Josiah, and we live in a city with 23 million Gospel-needy people – the capital of the world’s populous nation. And we are glad to share He has opened a door…

A Door Opens Right Here

We have been asked to help teach and encourage pastors and preachers of the largest open and accessible Chinese churches in Beijing – the Three-Self Church. Specifically, we will be mentoring the English service preachers for 3 congregations. Hundreds of people attend these services. This will include Mark being on their regular preaching teams. These churches are  now opening and their English services will open soon. (Their English website has not been updated recently – it just so happens the last sermon posted was Mark’s! http://english.hdchurch.org/ )