Monday, September 12, 2011

A Memorable Sunday

Fangfang, my translator

In this adventure with God in China, Sunday stands out as being the most memorable day so far. Because I am more Asian looking, my translator felt it would be safe to let me visit her house church which meets in her apartment. She picked me up at 9 a.m. so that we could get there by 9:30 a.m. when the worship and singing began.

The room was fairly empty of people when I arrived but I noticed that her living room had been transformed since I last saw it Friday evening. A curtain was pulled aside to show a shallow space behind. A projector was set up for showing the powerpoint slides of worship songs on the wall behind. There must have been at least 60 or 70 chairs set up. By the time the singing started, most of those chairs were filled and there were people standing in the hallway to the side. Though I didn’t understand a word they sang, Fangfang gave me a brief description of the theme. Between each song, there was a brief discourse and introduction to the next song. At the end of the singing, which lasted about a half hour, they all read the Apostle’s Creed together.

Then the preacher was introduced and was I in for a treat! It happened that on this particular Sunday a foreigner had been invited to speak. Her name was Doris Rinell. She was 83 years old and had been born in China to missionary parents who were also born in China to missionary parents. Her grandparents came to China in 1893 at the invitation of Hudson Taylor. Originally from Sweden, she now lives near Seattle. It had been 65 years since she was last in China! And she still remembered her Chinese, which she used that morning! She had come with her daughter and son who recorded her story as she told it in Chinese. It was quite moving to see a room full of young believers, riveted by her story, and to know that they were the living legacy of her grandparent’s sacrifice.

We then had communion, which was deeply meaningful. This church usually has communion on the first week of the month, but apparently something happened so that they had to delay it a week. I was grateful because I miss communion at my church. And then I thought perhaps God did it for me so that I could participate in communion with a people I’ve grown to love. The reality of the Church unseen and the communion of the saints around the world struck me hard.

After communion and a closing prayer, the church celebrated the ministry of a couple, originally from Taiwan but now residing in Houston. They had been sent to China two years ago by their Chinese church there. They were returning home this week. It was obvious from the sharing and gifts of love that they had a deep impact on this community. They were an older couple, about my age, and the young believers looked to them as spiritual parents. Their wisdom and maturity will be missed here.

After lunch was served, Fangfang and I had to hurry to catch a taxi and get to my next speaking venue, Mana church where I had spoken there last Wednesday with Peggy on discipleship. The topic for the afternoon was “The Theology of Sexuality.” About 25 young men and women were present - I think there was only one married person in the room. The response was really wonderful in light of the level of theology I was presenting. Many expressed deep appreciation for a clear and challenging teaching. Fangfang told me she had never heard such a teaching before. I had quite a number of women wanting to talk to me privately, during the breaks (it was a three hour session) and afterwards.

The most significant conversation was with a young Chinese woman almost immediately after our closing prayer. I ended up counseling with her for over an hour. I can’t go into details, but the timing of my session was an answer to the cry of this woman’s heart who had just last week asked for God to send a sign as to what she should do in her situation. Through the topic and the stories I told, she understood that God was giving her that sign. The step she needed to make was clear. I can’t tell you enough how humbled I was by God’s sovereign work of crossing our paths. And it was a brief crossing because she was leaving for Dubai where she lived and worked the next morning. She had only been in Beijing for a few weeks. Please pray for Sunny – she needs strength to do the right thing and she needs to find Christian fellowship and support in Dubai.

I was pretty exhausted when I got back to the hotel but deeply blessed to be used by God. Thank you for your prayers!

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