Friday, September 2, 2011

First Friday in Beijing

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.

And if today’s gathering is any indication of what these two weeks here will be like, I am in for quite a time. This morning Peggy and I met in a coffee shop with a small group of women who work together for an insurance company. One was a Buddhist, the rest were Christians. Peggy was the scheduled speaker with the topic, “How to deal with worries.” I was so glad to have an opportunity to listen to and observe Peggy before my first speaking session. Fangfang was our interpreter.

Peggy was wonderful and creative as she wove together stories, biblical principles and faith in Christ. The women sat attentively. Though there were occasional nods of heads or laughter at Peggy’s insertions of humor, it was still difficult to gauge their level of engagement. But it became clear afterwards that these women had done some serious thinking in response to her talk. According to Peggy, the Q&A was a first for her.

It opened with one of the women openly sharing that she had questions about what heaven was like. She confessed that even though she had been a Christian for 10 years, she feared that she was not going to end up in heaven. She went on to share a fear that her family would not be in heaven either. Another woman questioned whether one could actually experience God’s peace and joy. She had been taught that it was more spiritual to have a broken heart and to pray with tears all the time, like Jeremiah. She was also taught that only a certain number of people would get into heaven. If you didn’t get to heaven or get sent to hell, you would end up in a holding place. A third woman posed a question about infant baptism.

At the beginning of the Q&A, Peggy invited me to contribute responses to the questions. It was fun, challenging and satisfying to be a part of a dialogue with these seeking hearts. I felt one with Peggy, as I prayed for wisdom and searched for verses that would help answer the theological questions, which Peggy said was a first in all her teaching experiences in China. It was an exhilarating morning! The women could not have known that I had theological training. It seemed clear to both of us that the Spirit had created an environment of safety for them to express their deep spiritual struggles and I felt encouraged that God had brought me here to participate with Peggy in this conversation.

The women were so kind and generous with their time and food gifts (they treated us to lots of coffee treats and a big lunch). I have a feeling that the hardest part of this trip will be to say goodbye and to wonder if there will be another opportunity to see them again. For now, this small step today was a huge blessing.

Tomorrow (about Friday, 11:30 p.m. PST) I have my first scheduled session. Topic: Idols We Worship. If you’re a night owl, I appreciate your prayers. Or you can pray for me before you tuck yourself in for the night.


  1. I love reading your blog Harriet! I will be praying for your ministry to those precious ladies as I will be up all night caring for my people...

  2. I will definitely be praying for you! What a privilege to see God open their eyes to His truth... and to be a part of it!

  3. Wow, what wonderful questions! Sounds like an amazing time. It's just about a half hour before you speak and I'm praying you aren't too nervous, that the women's hearts would be open, and... for the interpreter to be able to feel calm and focused. ;-)

  4. Thank you for posting this on your FB page, I finally was able to log on to your blog. I am so glad you have this incredible experience and will be looking forward to reading your story each day you post. Blessings and hugs.

  5. Well, mediator of God, women of the in between! How cool of God and Sovereign to situate you in this place at this time to fill in the gap. What a true blessing! Praying for you. :)