Saturday, September 10, 2011

Two very busy days

I've had to set aside some huge blocks of time in order to prepare for upcoming speaking sessions. It's especially helpful to Fangfang, my translator, to receive my notes beforehand so that she can look up any unfamiliar words I use and find the Chinese equivalent. For example, I am speaking on sexuality for Mana church tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon and I already know she doesn't know what "pornography" or "masturbation" means. This is going to be interesting...

Teaching on Habakkuk in the Upper Room bistro.
It's been a busy two days. I had to spend all day Friday preparing for Saturday afternoon's workshop on the book of Habakkuk. Then Friday evening, I went to Fangfang's home to meet with some believers from the house church that meets there. After an early breakfast, our team found our way to a Christian bistro where our workshop was being held. I had to miss Peggy and her husband's presentation on biblical marriage in the Saturday morning's workshop in order to prep for Sunday's session on sexuality along with Tuesday morning's session on Matthew 26 (the story of the woman pouring perfume on Jesus). Then I gave my talk on Habakkuk after lunch and I was able to cover the book in two hours. I'm exhausted and want to go to bed, but I also want to keep up with this blog. So if I write anything that sounds weird or I make some typos, please forgive me. I'll fix them later.

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
I met another amazing woman today at the workshop. Peggy had told me about her earlier this week and said that I would love her. I now know why. Yolanda has been a Christian for only 3 years and she too has been thrust into church leadership. Most of her growth has been self-initiated and motivated. She's a firecracker!
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.

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