How I Met Jesus Around a Breakfast Table in Taiwan

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Jesus met me on a Wednesday morning, down the stairs of the Exchange Club on Tun Hua North Road in Taipei. Jesus met me at a table set with white table cloths and silver cutlery and the smell of congee and omelets and dark coffee.

I was so unraveled and tossed out to the world, I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. Not in South Africa, not in Taiwan, not in church, not in the bars.

But I showed up. I followed an invitation all the way down Chung Shan North Road Section 6 and left on Lin Sen Road. I followed it down through the trees of Tun Hua North Road and I parked my purple scooter outside the fancy club. I pulled off my helmet and adjusted my long brown hair. I wore red lipstick and olive green pants with a belt and steel toe boots. I was a girl outside of her skin; a girl in her early twenties, so very far away from home.

Only a few days earlier, Dorothea, a Canadian businesswoman in her sixties, stood next to me by the coffee table at a women’s gathering. I was there as a reporter for The China Post. She wore high heels and designer glasses and introduced herself to me.  She invited me to join her table and it turned out, we had signed up for all the same workshops that day.

By lunch time, she had a plan for me.

She pulled a piece of paper from her handbag. It looked like a church bulletin—white paper, copied on a Xerox machine, folded in half. It had some of Dorothea’s own handwriting scribbled and copied on the cover.

Jesus, CEO, it read. Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership.

 “I don’t know if you’d be interested,” she said, “but we’re starting a Women’s Power breakfast next Wednesday.”

Yes? Something very deep in me lifted her head.

“Yes, we’re going to be discussing this book and learning about Jesus’ leadership style. It would be great if you could come.”

“Me?”

“Yes.”

That invitation reached down into me … down down down into a deep and hollow place. It reached down through the loneliness and the numbness, down my throat into my core. It was like she had lit a light inside me with that simple invitation.

I knew I had to be there. Every cell in my body had been confronted by something real, something true. It had been a long time and my whole being was so hungry. I was so hungry for something—for truth, for authenticity, for purpose, for Life. But until that moment, I hadn’t known what.

That next Wednesday morning, I woke up next to my boyfriend in the pitch dark. By 6am, I was dressed and walked down the four flights of stairs, through the shiny steel door at the bottom of the building. A Light was leading me, guiding me. I was not a morning person, but I knew I had to be at that meeting. I drove for an hour through traffic and exhaust fumes, just to be at that first meeting of the Women’s Power Breakfast.

Showing up was dipping my toes into the water of something Vast. I could feel it beneath me. I didn’t know and I didn’t understand it. But, O, I felt it.

My hair was out of place and my heart felt out of place. My shoes were big and clunky and my body felt big and clunky. My mouth smiled and my words were polite, but inside, and not even that deep inside, my heart was a mess.

Then, sitting down at that table, the ladies bowed their heads and said, “Let’s pray.”

I bowed my head and remembered how my mom prayed. I didn’t feel like I had any right to bow my head and belong there. And yet, my mom prayed. Her love for Jesus and her simple walking out of her own life of faith was the one thing that said to me that morning, It’s ok. You may stay. You may come under the wings of a faithful woman and you may stay and sit here for a while.

Hush, Child.

My mom prays.

Hush. It’s going to be ok. You are here.

That day at the table in Taipei was my resurrection. I had been numb for so many years, I didn’t know what it was like to be truly alive. My spirit was like Jairus’ daughter—it seemed dead, but Jesus knew I was only sleeping. Jesus and Dorothea and a circle of women around a breakfast table, invited me to Life again.

They lit a fire in me and welcomed me to come and sit by the warmth, so I could become strong. They nourished me with good food—Words of Life—and demonstrated habits that began to shape a new me. I kept showing up and they kept loving me and inviting me to a bigger, stronger life.

I stand at the beginning of a new year now and I can’t help but remember that new beginning. It’s been nearly 21 years since that day in Taiwan and yet it feels like only a few years ago. I still remember what it feels like to be dead inside. I still remember what it is like to feel so utterly alone. I also remember so clearly what it feels like to be alive again, or maybe to become truly alive for the very first time.

I don’t know where you are in the story—if you are a Dorothea or if you are like the girl I was, so completely out of sorts and hungry for a different life. I needed a Dorothea to make room for me. I needed a Dorothea to pursue the nudge to start the Women’s Power Breakfast. I needed a Dorothea who would make copies of an invitation and carry it in her purse. I needed a Dorothea to see me. I needed a Dorothea who was sassy and smart and well-dressed and authentic and wanted to study a book about Jesus’ leadership style. I needed a Dorothea who was out of the box and fresh in her thinking. I needed a Dorothea who was so fully alive that her light would spark the light within me.

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I long to live as a kind of Dorothea for others. To be authentically and fully alive. To be me. To create spaces where sparks fly and lives become ignited. To extend invitations to study Jesus’ out of the box ways and fall in love with Life again. To create spaces where we bow our heads and others may come and sit under the wings of faithful women.

When I think of Light, I think of Jesus, the Light of the World, yes. I also think of two women meeting, sparks flying and history changing.

When the world gets overwhelming, I only need to return to my own story to be reminded of how Light spreads. We don’t have to light all the lives. But maybe, possibly, we can light one.

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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Idelette McVicker
  • Sherry Naron

    Ohhhh…you most certainly are a Dorothea to others! I love that our paths crossed my friend!

  • Tammy Chase Whitney

    Several years ago as I wrestled with what ministry looks like (to be honest, I still wrestle with this a bit). I am a pastor and it seemed like the traditional church was just going through the motions. While on retreat, God gave me the words “create space”. As I find myself once again wrestling your piece reminded me that really, it’s about invitations to the wide open spaces of the Kingdom of God. I am so thankful and inspired to the Dortheas’ of the world. Look at how her leaven has multiplied the Kingdom of God through you!

    Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me of my calling to create space.

  • Stacey Pardoe

    This made me smile wide, Idelette. I remember my own Dorothea twenty years ago, and she inspired me to let the younger women come just as they are – to open the doors to both my home and my heart and provide a safe place to let these women be exactly where they are, wherever that may be. And then I consider the reality that we’re all really on a long journey toward Christ-likeness, and I still need a few Dorotheas to walk with me through difficult decisions and help me make sense of the tangled mess life often becomes. Here’s to passing it on and living it out among the generations!

  • The record of Light given in the past is the greatest assurance that God can still speak Light into our dark places. Thank you for this memory with all its details and for sharing your Dorothea with the world. You honor her well with your life.

  • Tracy Haney

    Your story really resonated with me. I spent almost a year living in Nepal at a time when I felt out of sync with the world. Nepal was amazing, but it also brought me to my knees. I didn’t have a Dorothea, but God showed up and gently taught me so many lessons. Thank you for sharing!

  • Tracy Nelson

    You ARE, Idelette! … you ARE living as a Dorthea …. thank you for that, and thank you for sharing.

  • Love this story! And happen to know that the name Dorothea means ‘gift from God’ 😉 Thank you for being (and inspiring others) to help others along the way..

  • This might be one of my most favorites of your writings. I love it so!! You are a Dorothea. As I was reading I stopped to pray, “God, may I be a Dorothea to other women and may I find a Dorothea in my local world…” it nearly brings me to tears… so beautiful Idelette. So so beautiful.

    Also, I really felt this experience you shared:

    ” I was so unraveled and tossed out to the world, I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. Not in South Africa, not in Taiwan, not in church, not in the bars.”

    Thanks for writing.

  • You’ve got me thinking about the unexpected women in my own life. Thank you for this glimpse into your journey, Idelette!

  • Erica Denney

    Oh Idelette! This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this personal story and inspiring so deeply. Tears on this end.

  • Stephanie Reeves

    Oh, Idelette, this give Les me hope and makes me weep, both at the same time. Thank you.

  • Stephanie Reeves

    Oh, Idelette, this gives me hope and makes me weep, both at the same time! Thank you.

  • You’re my Dorothea. I may have more but you definitely play a starring role. No confusion there. xoxox