This week was rather eventful, but I wanted to start by thanking the people who wished me happy birthday, and especially those of you who mentioned the fact that you are praying for me. I am sustained by those prayers; I minister out of the power of those prayers; I teach Bible out of the Spirit-led insights which are sparked by those prayers; and I live and move and have my being because of the God that hears those prayers.
I am now 28 years old. I have been a Christian for eight of those years, and it is a good thing to say that over a quarter of my life has been spent in the greatest relationship I could ever have…a relationship to which no relationship on earth can compare, nor should it. Even if I were to get married, I know that that relationship is but an appetizer of the unblemished joy that will be mine when I see my savior face to face. I really hope that if you do not know Christ in that way, you would simply open the Bible to the Gospel of John, start reading, and let God meet you where you are.
I have gotten to the age where my birthday is just like any other day on my calendar, and so, if people forget it, it doesn’t phase me. I like that attitude because when an outpouring of celebration happens, it really catches me off guard.
I take you to 7:50 AM on Tuesday, which was October 23 in Korea. I was sitting in my room, getting notes together and firing up the projector. In the hallway, I heard a group of people singing “Happy Birthday,” and getting louder every second. I looked toward the door as roughly 20 people were pouring into my room and standing in the hallway, singing Happy Birthday to me. They finished, I thanked them, and then I had to turn around quickly to compose myself because I was about to lose it.
I’ve known these kids for two months. And there they were, standing in the hallway, singing “Happy Birthday” to me.
School started, and as custom, we had the announcements. Then, at the end, a bunch of the guys that I’ve had the privilege of mentoring decided to rap “Happy Birthday” over the loudspeaker. They got cut off, but the meaning was still there.
I looked out on my first period class after the announcements, mouthed “Thanks…for everything,” and then started to feel the lump in the throat happen. I stopped talking, and since we pray before every class, we moved to prayer. As I prayed, I thanked God for all the wonderful students that I get to teach every single day. I thanked Him for the joy of being able to enter into the lives of these kids, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to lead them into a deeper relationship with Christ.
The day went on, and each class sang to me; some kids brought cards and a doughnut cake, while others brought a tin of brownies. I went home with much exhilaration.
I recently heard a sermon on singleness, since, well, you know, I’m 28 and all and I still don’t have that helper suitable…and the wonderful thing that came out of that sermon is that I can still be a father in a spiritual sense. I can raise young men and young women who, after graduating International Christian School Pyongtaek, are loosed on a world that desperately needs young people to share the redemptive power of the gospel of Christ.
And so, imperfectly, I go forward to do just that. Single, married, whatever…my vision for my life is to leave this world in such a manner that when old Eric Zanger breathes his last and goes to glory, Satan doesn’t applaud because there’s a mob of kids who have been placed in my life who pick up the torch and keep going.
I love what I do. I wouldn’t trade what I do for all the tea in China…or all the kimchi in Korea.