The past week or so has been very busy and very blessed!
What a joy it was to be able to fly in from the east coast to be a part of the Missions’ Revival for Pacific Baptist Church of Long Beach, Pacific Baptist Church of Maywood, and Pacific Baptist Bible College. Altogether, I had the opportunity to preach for the two churches a total of six times, the college twice, and the joy of teaching on missions for six hours in the college. The three-fold emphasis was the 1040 Window in general, and Southeast Asia and China more specifically.
As many, if not most of you know, my brother Pastor Joe Esposito had a burning passion to send a team to China. In fact, the last words his children ever heard him say before he was rushed to the hospital on October 3, 2013 were “China or Bust.”
It was one year ago this week when my brother was hospitalized. Only by the grace of God did he survive a ruptured AVM, but he remains in the hospital to this day. It was about two hours after I opened up our Missions Conference in Long Beach (PBC flew me from SE Asia for the conference) that my brother was hospitalized. The primary emphasis of last year’s conference, in addition to Southeast Asia, was the country of China. Concerning his passion for China his wife writes:
It was hard to pinpoint a specific time for the birth of the China Dream. Pastor had for many years posted large maps of ethnically diverse cities in CA for church planting targets, and a map of Asia on our bedroom wall. He had marked China as one of many destinations for sending teams. I believe Monterey Park was a part of making the dream for China seem a reality to Pastor.
Just as God put Pastor at 5050 Sheridan in Chicago (while a student in Bible College) so many years ago where the burden for the Khmer people was birthed and led to Pacific Baptist Church, and eventually Team Cambodia, Thailand, and L” – I believe, as did Pastor, God provided the church building for starting the Monterey Park Church in one of the greatest Chinese populations.
As Pastor used to say, sort of a Polaroid picture – the vision for China God had snapped years earlier and which was represented by a map on the wall – little by little developed into a great burden for a team to China. It seemed to be so obvious to him – we would start Team China, and there in the Monterey Park area more laborers would be born. It just made sense to him – God led us there, provided a building right where the Chinese folks were.
During the time leading up to last year’s missions conference – the burden for China grew and grew. Pastor had such a great desire to share the dream and burden with the church family. China became such a passion to him, and really the main emphasis of the conference. Never before did Pastor Esposito have such an intensity and sense of importance as he did for last year’s conference. He really believed that God was going to do something extraordinary – as we have talked about him saying multiple times “it was a God thing”.
Of course, the opening night of the Missions Conference was the last opportunity Pastor had to share the burden that God had placed on his heart – and only briefly before his AVM ruptured causing a severe bleed and stroke. While on the platform that night I believe he was already bleeding as he told me on the walk home of a severe migraine and loss of vision. As we entered the door, he didn’t sit down to fellowship with his children, as he would normally do following a service. The children showed him his favorite L” coffee Bro. Esposito had brought. He tossed it to one of them and said the last words my children heard him say, “China or Bust” and he headed upstairs. Within a very short time he stumbled down the stairs holding his head in pain, and I rushed him to the ER.
About a week ago, Brother Johnny came by to see Pastor. He left, but returned a few minutes later with China stickers he had asked Bro. Vong to print – “Don’t let the dream die”… and he showed them to pastor then handed them to me. He immediately walked back out and I stood by Pastor and looked at him and tears rolled down his cheek. That was the first time I had seen more than a single tear. Though he can’t speak, I personally believe the burden burns within … and if he could speak he’d say, ‘China or Bust’ ‘Don’t let the dream die!’”
What a testimony! It is often difficult to tell exactly what God is doing and why, but we are all believing that God has allowed this “tragedy” to take place for His glory and for the good of many. Could the country of China be a part of the many? Only time will tell!
Please continue to pray for a miracle in my brother’s life, and pray for his dear wife, eight children, two grandchildren, as well as the Pacific Baptist Church family. And pray that the dream to send men and women to China will continue to live on!