by Paul Lu
On a recent plane ride, I was intrigued by a documentary about a young man who, against all odds, bought a dilapidated place and turned it into a beautiful bed & breakfast. Set atop a mountain in a rural town in Taiwan, El Patio del Cielo (EPC) can house a total of 16 guests in six housing units. The view from EPC is stunning, overlooking mountain ranges in dense forests high above the clouds. Guests stay in traditional “Three-section Compounds” where the living areas in the middle section is flanked by two side residential wings.
When Pei-jun Ho graduated with a degree in medicine, he would have never thought that his labor of love would be voted “the most beautiful bed and breakfast in Taiwan.” But it wasn’t an easy task. Turned down by 15 banks, Ho was finally able to get funding from a local bank to finance his project. After a long and arduous process, an architectural gem was finally born to welcome people from around the world to get a taste of living in rural Taiwan.
But he did not stop there. A few years after EPC gained popularity, Ho began to help the small town of Zhushan, where the B&B is located. He walked around town to discover shops that still kept the traditions of Taiwan alive. For example, a husband-and-wife team continues to create “Pong Bi Pang” which is essentially popcorn made from brown rice. The machine they use is a gigantic iron tube that makes a loud ‘Boom!’ each time brown rice is popped into dried flakes. Another shop owner stitches comforters by hand with ornate Hakka-themed covers. All of EPC’s bed linens are sourced from this shop. A third family in town continues the tradition to hand-hammer cutlery from iron. The owner’s son, who worked in electronics for ten years, decided to return to his father and carry on the family business. Ho arranges his guests to take a tour to Taiwan’s nostalgic past by stopping at these shops to let visitors get a glimpse of these cultural traditions.
As I marveled at the transformation that has taken place at EPC and Zhushan, I can’t help but think of how Jesus has transformed me, especially since coming to Evergreen SGV. Before I came to this church, my spiritual life was dry. My wife and I were quite involved with our previous church, but due to different visions, we decided that it was time to part ways. He led our family to Evergreen SGV, where a big emphasis is placed on missions.
In December 2015, while doing my devotion, a few verses jumped out at me. “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:7-8. He showed me that it was time for me to equip myself so that He could use me to share the “unsearchable riches of Christ” to those who don’t know Him. In the same way that Ho changed an unsightly object and turned it into a beautiful building, I believe that God is also in the process of molding me into a vessel that is fit for His service.
Now in my second year at BIOLA, I believe that God is preparing me in the area of linguistics so that I can help in the work of Bible translation. Did you know that out of the approximately 7,000 languages worldwide, half of those languages still have no translated Scripture? As it says in Romans 10:14a, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?”
My prayer is that I would continue to walk with Him and strive to make Him known. God is still working in me. He is not done with me yet. I don’t know how exactly my future is going to unfold, but I know that He has a good plan for me, and for you. In God’s plan, everyone has a role to play. Just like what has transpired at El Patio del Cielo, He will redeem His people and make something beautiful out of ashes.