Tuesday was another memorable day. I started the day at 6:30 a.m. and got back to the hotel at 11 p.m. feeling exhausted but exhilarated.
In the morning, Peggy and I spoke at a women’s Bible study led by a woman named Mawei, with nine women and one man present. The man was the husband of one of the women and didn’t care that our topics (“Beautiful to God” and the story of the woman with the perfume bottle in Matt. 26) were directed toward the female presence in the room. Peggy said this is not uncommon, that Chinese men are not offended by gendered topics. They just like to attend these sessions even if they are in the background. I usually work so hard to include both genders when I speak to a mixed group that it felt rude to me to keep to my notes. Peggy said it was totally fine - he would not be offended, although I wonder if he got a little uncomfortable when Peggy mentioned breast implants. If you think about this group dynamic a bit, there is an advantage to men participating in women’s conversations. Perhaps they would understand us women more like we understand men…or maybe not. ^_^
Mawei’s group of women was really responsive and fun. Afterwards a few of them wanted to take Peggy and me out for lunch at a local Chinese restaurant. One of the women, Anna, was a Muslim from western China near Mongolia. Her facial features were definitely more Middle Eastern. She won a shawl and she understood that winning it would mean a group of women in the U.S. would be praying for her. Near the end of our tasty Chinese lunch, Anna told us that she would consider what we had shared. She said she felt accepted and loved by this group of women. Peggy gave her the “story” bracelet and Anna accepted it!
|Us with Anna and her bracelet|
BTW, I haven’t explained the “story” bracelets that Peggy sells or gives out. It’s a beautiful bracelet made of pearl and gemstones with the colors of the “wordless” book, an evangelism tool to share the gospel. Hudson Taylor in China used it, and many responded to the gospel because the colors “spoke” clearly. Peggy hired a local jewelry maker at the Silk Market to make the bracelets and she gives them away at the venues while sharing the “Story” at the same time. This is my “story” bracelet – would you like to hear the Story? She also sells them here in China and stateside to raise funds for her trips to China.
Back to my day…After lunch I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing for my evening session in which I was going solo. Peggy had another appointment to go to. I was not feeling very good about my presentation and I confess I was fretting a bit. Peggy kept encouraging me to not be a perfectionist. She has been a wonderful leader and good friend on this trip!
Fangfang and I made our way to a business district and ended up in a prestigious tea company where the host of a women’s Bible study was employed. I saw pictures of her boss with George H.W. & Barbara Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and the presidents of Taiwan and Korea. They must have good tea!
It was a small group of four women, besides me and Fangfang, but I ended up having the best time as I presented “The Story of the Bible.” They were serious students of the Bible but very young in their understanding of it. They admitted that they knew very little of the Old Testament and only studied parts of the New. So I gave them a thematic overview of the whole Bible while at the same time offering specific information that would help them understand the Old Testament. I was glad I brought a Bible with maps as I explained the history of Israel, the divided kingdoms and the pagan nations that threatened them. I gave examples of OT passages that were helpful to understanding NT ones. At the end they expressed surprise at the relevancy of the OT.
During my presentation, I suggested they try doing a “read through” the Bible (if any of you know Dr. Ron Frost, this is his passion). I encouraged them to meet and just read through the whole Bible from beginning to end as fast as they could without comment or interpretation. I had emphasized that the Bible was a “love” story (the Chinese interpretation became “romantic”) between God and his people, and reading it fast with this view of the Bible would be powerful, especially if they did this together on a weekly basis. One of the women, Helen, got really excited and shared that their recent inductive Bible study in the book of Ruth had been very difficult to understand because they did not have enough knowledge or background in the Bible. She felt the read through would be a better way to start in their pursuit of understanding God’s Word.
Later, Helen sent me this email:
Thank you for your time last night and teaching us about Bible story. Your teaching is really helpful and eye-opened to me. Because of you, I have changed my understanding to the book. It's not just a historical & instruction book, which is a little bit hard to new life like me. Now it's becoming an attractive true & inspiring love story. Last night I went home very excited and had a sleepless night, planning how to start our study and how much it takes.... Sounds like there's a little voice encouraging me to read the whole story from the very beginning as quickly as possible. I cannot wait to see what a big picture it is...Thanks again for your feeding us like a good shepherder.
I am on cloud nine! Thank you for your prayers!