Monday, September 19, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
|Jon, Jerri (full time staff in Beijing), Hope, Peggy, Fangfang|
It was wonderful to see Jon and everyone else at home - my mother, son, daughter-in-law, and especially little Ethan and Emma. Life is quickly getting back to normal. And not normal. How does one process two weeks of seeing God in China? Of meeting wonderful Chinese believers who are in great need of encouragement and teaching yet have taught me so much more? I won't miss the traffic and the smog, but I'll miss everything else about Beijing, especially the people. (I'll also miss the looks of surprise when I told them I had 3 grandchildren - they always made me feel young!) I am honored to have been given the opportunity to go and to be used by God there. Thank you to those who prayed. Thank you to those who supported me financially. And thank you for reading my blog posts. I plan to keep this blog open for future posts as I walk this journey with God and consider where He may take me next. On the car ride home from the airport, Jon asked me if I would like to go back to China. I didn't hesitate. Yes! And he agreed I should. What a wonderful husband!
For those of you who are in or near Portland, I am planning a gathering for whoever would like to get more details on my trip or just hang out. Peggy is also in Portland until next Saturday - she has been scheduled to speak at a retreat here and her daughter lives in Lake Oswego as well. I am tentatively scheduling next Thursday, Sep. 22, probably in the evening. Please let me know if you would like to come.
Blessings to you all and thank you for your encouragement and support!
|Jufang and Peggy|
In the evening, Peggy, Jon, Hope, Fangfang and I made our way to another part of Beijing to meet with an artists’ group of 14 young people that gathers for Bible study and encouragement. In an attempt to connect with them, I shared how music is a huge thing in Jon’s family and how art is a part of my life and our church’s life. I talked on idols again while Peggy spoke about worries. We did the dissolving paper activity which the young men and women really liked as usual.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
|Us with Anna and her bracelet|
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
|Fancy entrance in hutong|
The trip to the section of the Great Wall we were to visit took almost two hours. Unfortunately it was a very smoggy day so the pictures did not turn out as good as I hoped. I borrowed some pictures from Dana, a new friend from Escondido, CA who was here teaching at the Crown University, which is also connected to Global Partners. He went to the same section of the Wall earlier in the week but they enjoyed clear blue skies.
We took a lift chair up to the top, walked a small portion of the wall and then returned down the mountain on a tobaggan slide (this was fun!). On one hand you get your exercise walking any part of the Wall but on the other hand, you feel like you've just smoked a pack of cigarettes because of the smog.
The Wall is almost 4000 miles long and can be seen from space. Started as early as the 5th century BCE, sections of it were still being built in the 1400's CE. We went to the Mutianyu section which is the only location that has a tobaggan ride down. There were guys stationed along the route to watch out for everyone's safety. I think several yelled at me to slow down. ^_^
|How would you like to be hanging out at|
that corner when an earthquake hits?
This city is amazing. Most of the time it is quite smoggy - they call it "foggy" but it sure smells funny for fog. After a rain, the skies clear up to reveal even more of the skyline from our hotel window. On our excursions away from the hotel, I have seen some incredible architecture. They really love to be creative in their designs!
I haven't even begun to tell you about the food which is yummy and cheap. Suffice it to say - I'm not losing any weight and I'm afraid to get on the scale in my hotel room to see if I've gained any pounds. So much for trying to look good for my high school reunion next month in Florida!
Monday, September 12, 2011
|Fangfang, my translator|
Saturday, September 10, 2011
|Teaching on Habakkuk in the Upper Room bistro.|
Over the last couple days, I've come to observe a few things that are making this trip a memorable one. At Fangfang's home Friday evening, my topic was supposed to be God's rest, but it became apparent that this was not a felt need, at least for this evening. So I decided to drop the talk and do an impromptu Q&A with the five people who came. From the questions that were posed and other conversations I have had, the lack of godly, marriageable men is a huge problem for the women. Hmmm...that sounds like something I have heard at my church. Of course, there are a few differences - the ratio of women to men in these urban churches is five to one. Here's an interesting comment made by a woman in the group at Fangfang's.
Non-Christian men are in general confident and assertive leaders while the men in our churches tend to be weak and not courageous about their faith. But the non-Christian men don't feel a need for Christ because they are strong while the Christian men use their weakness to say they are more humble and realize their need for Christ. It's hard to find strong men in the church.
There was a young man sitting with us at the table while this woman made this assessment. So I asked him if he agreed with her statement. Pause...might be better to sidestep the question. He said he was not ready for marriage. However there was a male leader in the community that was putting pressure on the young men to step up and date Christian young women. Poor guy. How do you choose which woman to date when you are outnumbered 5 to 1? He also added that there was a group of guys meeting with a leader to discuss "how to be a man." I told him our church had had such group meetings as well. Things aren't all that different in China.
Another observation concerns the young women I meet at these venues, whether a house church, Bible study or workshop. Wow! Am I impressed with the women! I have met some incredible leaders with pastoral hearts and administrative skills. And most of them haven't been Christians for very long. Fangfang is one of these amazing women. After being with her a week, I finally had an opportunity to speak with her extensively. She became a Christian 5 years ago. Within 6 months she was placed in leadership and within a year she was preaching, teaching several Bible studies, and equipping other Bible study leaders in the area. Oh, and she has been the taking care of the financial books for her house church. Because her apartment is the location for the church, she often gets phone calls related to church business or needs. On top of that, she teaches English for 3 hours every day. She only recently was able to delegate some of her responsibilities to others so that she could have some margin in her life. Of course, our team filled up her margin this week!
It was in the taxi ride back to the hotel that I learned all this. Before I left her to go back in, I asked Fangfang to think about a question I had and I wanted to know her answer the next day (today). My question was, "What is your greatest need right now?" After the workshop today, Fangfang gave me her answer. While she sat next to Peggy and me in the taxi, she said her greatest need was for a spiritual mother. So both Peggy and I volunteered for the job! I love Fangfang!
|With Yolanda at the workshop|
GPiH staff translator
Every time I ask people how long they have been believers, I am amazed at how much they grow in such a short amount of time. To be fair, I know the leaders are also struggling with weak believers who waver in their commitment to following Christ. Yolanda expressed a lot of angst as we discussed mentoring and what frustrates her about the women she is discipling. But I'm super impressed with the leaders I am meeting and most of them are women who haven't been believers for very long.
Tomorrow I get to go to a house church service in the morning - I'm excited to be able to go. From there I'll travel to Mana house church to talk about sexuality. Again that should be about 10:30 pm Saturday PST.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Of course, if I can't get all these gift into my bags, the extra baggage fees may not be worth the hard work of bartering and running through the gauntlet. Peggy assures me we will get it home somehow without the fees.
I really wanted a Chinese t-shirt - most everyone dresses quite casual here. I finally found one I liked and got the price down to a reasonable one. Then it was a matter of trying to find the right size. This is where it got depressing. The Chinese are so thin and petite that the size I ended up with was an XXXL! And even this size was tighter than what I like around my midsection. I am definitely less inclined to buy clothes in China.
Getting to the Market and getting back proved to be a challenge. The traffic was horrible! It took us twice as long to get there. I had to close my eyes as vehicles came within an inch or two of the taxi. I'm not exaggerating! The driver made the ride to the Market a little more enjoyable however. He really wanted us to understand his attempts to communicate. He was so dramatic. ^_^ He kept looking back at us though after Peggy explained in broken Chinese that we were from America. He kept pointing to what I thought was his ear. Then it dawned on us what he was trying to say. He had been pointing to his hair. He was perplexed that I had hair like the Chinese but could not speak Chinese while Peggy, obviously a foreigner, was doing a fair job communicating in the language. I get looks like this all the time. Peggy thinks I may have less trouble attending a house church on Sunday than she because of my Asian look (we had been asked to avoid them on Sunday morning because of recent incidences).
The attempt to find a taxi to get us to our evening meeting also proved to be difficult. As a result we were over a half hour late. But the group of young people were so patient and grateful that we had come. The church is called FaithHopeLove. It is a church plant from another that was started by Hope, an employee and translator for Global Partners. She and her roommates had just moved to a new apartment two weeks earlier and were still in the process of moving their new church there. The location was in the outskirts of Beijing and it took a while to even find the apartment complex located within a gated community.
Tomorrow (Saturday) will be a long day. Peggy and Jon (yes, her husband's name is Jon too and he likes to wear a fanny pack just like my Jon!) will be speaking on marriage for the whole morning. Then I have all afternoon to cover the book of Habakkuk, the theme being Hab. 2:4 - "The righteous will live by faith." Again, we appreciate your prayers! If you haven't figured it out by now, China is 15 hours ahead of Portland. So I'll be starting my session about 10:30 pm Friday night, PST.
BTW, I finally see blue sky in Beijing today! It's typically hazy because of pollution (though it's not too bad) and yesterday it actually sprinkled and cooled down from the 80's into the 70's. The rain cleared the air for us today.
Blessings to you all and thank you for your prayers!
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
It was a great time because I made time for their responses and questions throughout the presentation. The leader indicated that this was a hot topic and by their questions, I believed him. They were so engaged and fun to be with. Their questions were challenging and revealed they were tracking with the concepts I presented. I soon discovered that my attempts to keep to the big picture was difficult for them to grasp. I wanted to share principles and qualities, not present a whole programs or steps to accomplishing discipleship. They kept wanting the details and we kept wanting to avoid them. But one thing is for sure. They are desiring to be faithful followers of Christ and they have a burden to disciple well the growing number of Chinese that are responding to the gospel.
I'm looking forward to going back again especially to meet more of their members. Thanks for praying for me! Tomorrow is shopping day at the Silk Market and then in the evening we'll be at another house church. Peggy will be leading this one on the topic of "how to be a good husband" and I'll certainly tell them how wonderful mine is! ^_^
Sidebar: Traffic in China is really scary!
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
There are three current major church movements in China. First, there are the underground, unregistered churches that remain as such. Second, there are the official, registered ones called the "Three to Self" Churches. They used to be political, but an increasing number of them are actually preaching truth. Third, the establishment of urban professional house churches is the most recent development in the large cities of China. The number of urban churches is exploding throughout Beijing and other cities. This category is also mix of the first and second types of churches - the church may be unregistered while the pastor is registered.
Because of a strong connection to a government official, Global Partners is able to teach Christian business and leadership principles, though some care may need to be exercised depending on the venue. In the venues we have scheduled, Peggy and I are free to share Biblical truths and the gospel.
As I mentioned, the number of urban house churches is growing exponentially. There is a huge need for leaders to be identified and trained. It's an amazing opportunity and I am excited to be a small part of what God is doing here.
Next up: Tuesday evening (Monday morning, 4-6 am, PST) is my next scheduled talk on "God's Rest." I appreciate your prayers!
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Beijing is an amazing, bustling, modern city. It is full of young people and all of them would blend into Portland quite easily if measured by jeans, heels and cell phones. The traffic is a different story. There is no such thing as braking distance between cars and taxis. Today’s venture outside the hotel was quite an experience.