Hope in the midst of Hurt

New friends to the fire: Tim and Hope Mehl

We welcome Special Friends to the fire and MCN Missionaries: Tim and Hope Mehl. After I read the latest edition of their Missionary Newsletter I knew it had to be shared around our fire. Their message was an important reminder of everything I needed to hear about God- in the midst of a world that sometimes feels like its spinning out of control. Welcome to the Fire- Tim and Hope – we’re so glad you’re here! Beth

“I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you.” -John 14:18
           Greetings in Christ! I hope this newsletter finds you well. Today I write this from my desk, in my office, at Concordia Middle School. It’s been 5 full weeks since we’ve had class which is longer than any summer break our students have ever had. Needless to say, on our first day back at school they were bouncing off the walls with excitement to see their friends again. Some of my students look visibly more rested so as scary and hectic as this coronavirus outbreak has been, there have been good that has come from it too. We started school officially on February 25 with a few stipulations from the government. We are required to take everyone’s temperature twice a day, everyone must wear a mask, and hand sanitizer has been made available everywhere. So far, Taiwan has really been holdings its own against this virus with only 31 active cases, where as our neighboring countries have numbers in the hundreds and thousands. In general people don’t seemed to panicked about the virus anymore. As with anything it became old news and while everyone is trying to stay healthy, the air of anxiety around the country seems to have mostly passed. But as happens sometimes, with the end of one storms comes another. 

            On the early morning of February 6th, our administration building on our school campus caught fire due to faulty wiring. We thank God that no one was hurt, but because the fire was burning for hours before anyone noticed, the entire first floor was turned to ash. All of our school records, grades, and important documents were kept on paper, and nothing survived. The computers that were in the building were also destroyed if not by the fire and smoke, then by the fireman’s hose. To add to the devastation, this building was built in the 1960s when Taiwan was at a time where there were no such thing as licensed contractors, building companies, or safety codes. Because of this, the entire building could not be insured. The school estimates it will be about $300,000 USD to fix, which in Taiwan is an enormous amount of money. Many people are devastated to say the least, but while it is easy to feel down or ask “why us??”, we remember that God does not promise that our journeys will always be easy, but he does promise that he will be with us every step of the way. The morning of the fire many of the faculty came together in prayer asking for God’s guidance. As our principal said “Concordia was built on God’s love … and we will trust him as we face difficulties and challenges…”

           How blessed we are to work at school where we can use this as an opportunity to show people the peace we find when we trust God. How amazing to be able to show our coworkers exactly what we have been teaching our students all year!

           I have included the principals translated letter to the faculty in this newsletter. I praise God that we have a principal with a heart for Christ to lead us. We don’t know what will happen to tomorrow, we don’t know how badly this will affect the school, enrollment numbers, or any of those details we get so wrapped up in, but we do know that if we fix our eyes on Christ, the end result will be better than anything we can ask for ourselves. Principal’s Letter to Faculty ( SEE BELOW)

Praying Together
The morning after the fire the faculty came together in prayer.Blocked Off
Thankful for firefighters who put the fire out in record time! Today the whole building is blocked off and no one is allowed in. Fire Damage
This was taken inside the administration building the day of the fire. The walls were still radiating heat when I stepped in. 
Masks in Japan
With school canceled a few extra weeks, we took a few days to see Japan (this was before the outbreak was bad there). We feel so fortunate to live so close enough to do 

Concordia Middle School Feb 6th Fire Prayer Letter
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. Psalm 29:10
…we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. Psalm 66:12
The morning of February 6 the administration building caught fire. An inspection showed the fire was
caused by old electrical wiring. We were blessed that no one was
in the building to become injured, and that the fire did not spread.
Only one office was completely destroyed. Other offices,
conference rooms, electronic supplies, walls and ceilings were all
affected by smoke and water damage. The smoke ash is a toxic
substance, harmful to human health. Therefore, the administration
center needs to do demolition, ash removal, professional cleaning
and scraping of contaminated and damaged items, and restoration
of the administration center.
The day of the fire, the chairman of our board of directors
immediately came to the school to pray with, encourage and
comfort everyone. Principal Huang gathered all of the
administration coworkers and in three working days, cleared out
the damaged materials, cleaned, and moved usable goods into
temporary administration offices around the campus. Phone
and computer lines were restored, and office furniture was
improvised so that our work could continue as quickly as
possible. Many volunteers, “old Concordians,” came of their
own volition to help, and it reminded me of the 1022 earthquake. At that time, Principal Chen had us all
work together to restore our campus. Concordia Middle School was built by God’s love. God has not
promised us that the sky would always be blue, and that the flowers would always smell sweet, but He has
promised us that He is with us, and we can trust Him as we face all difficulties and challenges in His strength.
His faithfulness and love will lead Concordia into a promised land flowing with milk and honey.
Among the photos of the fire, there is a picture of “a cross in the ashes.” A twisted window and a tree
poking into it came together to make a cross shape. Looking at this has comforted us during this traumatic
time. Like it says in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Concordia wants to learn humility and grow through this trial.
Principal Huang told the coworkers who gathered immediately after
the fire, “We will have a fresh start.” Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not
fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will
strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right
hand.” Concordia is a school that was built on God’s promises. I am
confident that in God’s protection, and with the cooperation of all
Concordians, we can continue to walk forward, and shine His light.

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