I have been to three cities in China to visit and encourage friends and to look for opportunities to serve. Here are some of my impressions of the cities I was in though I must admit to spending short 3 – 5 days in each place.
Lijiang was the most beautiful and scenic. An old town (800 years old) that has been made a World Heritage site, and a new town that grew as a result of the tourism boom. The air was fresh, the skies were blue and it was not so crowded. The economy doesn’t seem to have suffered but in the underbelly of this boom there lies the insidious attrition of marriage and family life. Many families have both parents working and tied down to long hours and hard labor. In one child families most of these children tend to be spoilt by as many as six indulgent adult parents and grandparents. A recipe for future disaster. We spent some time with a few couples and a single mother in our team shared about keeping marriages fresh and protected. We also went into the country to look at an organic chicken farm project and visit a family that we had helped several years ago. Nothing like getting into the homes and seeing the real thing and the way people lived and related and the kind of problems they faced.
Next was Lanzhou. We ascended a high hill that overlooked the city and prayed for the Hui people, the unique Chinese Muslims. Right at the time we were praying for an outpouring of the Spirit upon this dry spiritual desert, we saw water spraying out from a nozzle among the trees browned by dust, and a mini rainbow was immediately visible. A sign from heaven! This city is dismal with grey skies and winds that carry microscopic sand from who knows where but there is hope. I salute those friends who stay in this rather polluted place to serve people for so long. We visited one of the families that received sponsorship for studies. It was a poor migrant worker single mother. She rented a tiny two room quarters and she hawked food in the morning to support her family. The reality hits you and you wonder how many more struggle and eke out their living in similar poverty. I also saw how successful businesses can actually be run when there is clear focus, good opportunities and division of labor. My friends have this vision of planting seeds of faith, hope and love in young hearts that may take decades to come to fruition. If you want to partner with them financially, contact me.
The last city was Chengdu and Pengzhou. By this time I was getting tired of noodles and Szechuan peppers. At Pengzhou, we visited some friends in a center that helped victims of the last great earthquake of Szechuan. The one that killed over a hundred thousand people. There I met the products of China’s revival in the 50’s, seasoned Christian leaders that still have the fire burning in them. As I heard them speak, I think of the Back to Jerusalem movement. It began in the 1920’s with a brave missionary band sent from a Bible school in the north west to evangelize the nations between China and Jerusalem. The band died out and the vision was entombed awaiting as it were, a resurrection.
After the communist takeover, and the revival that broke out in different parts of China, this forgotten vision was called forth like Lazarus, out of its tomb. The gospel came from Jerusalem. Now it needs to be brought back. Through all the countries between China and Jerusalem. This spans the Buddhist world, the Hindu world and the Muslim world. Many house church networks have committed themselves to this. Many have already died for this. The church outside China is helping equip people dedicated to this missionary impetus and supporting them financially.
We were shown a huge concrete bridge that was broken up and lifted many meters high during the last major earthquake. Its been made into a tourist site, a testimony to nature’s fierce wrath. We visited a organic farming training center and a welfare home. In fact we had meals with these handicapped and abandoned people in the home. They were well cared for. They even ate food from the organic farm with its organic pork and chicken and vegetables.
By the time we had our final stop in Chengdu, I have had enough of noodles and Szechuan peppers. We gravitated to Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and MacDonald’s. Felt like home. And we went to Capital Mall China Trust’s “Raffles City” in Chengdu, a huge shopping mall and service apartments and office complex, built and managed by Singaporeans. We met and were hosted by friends Moses and Yoke and were blessed with their Malaysian folksiness. “Aren’t you going to Malaysia to vote?” I asked. No, they said, and since I was not willing to pay for their airfares back to Malaysia to vote, I kept my mouth shut.
The trip was successfully concluded with a smooth 5 hours flight home. I estimated we were in the airplane or in the airport during transits, etc. for close to 24 hours in total throughout the whole period of 11 days. Thank God for good company, wonderful friends and hospitality and the grace of God and prayers of the church.
I just heard over the TV news a summary of the charges against City Harvest Church folks. Do pray.