I arrived in China with little more than American ideas in my mind – the Great Wall, rickshaws, rice-paddy hats, and of course General Tso’s famous chicken. The real China was nothing like I imagined it.
My first experience was a sensory overload: Musky pollution, loud, howling traffic, and a cacophony of unknown words and syllables. This was the greeting our team received.
About an hour later, when settled into a small hotel with little air conditioning, I had a moment with God (and myself): what am I doing here? I asked. As often happens, God did not directly answer the question but chose rather to unravel the answer over the ensuing two weeks.
But a better question arose in my heart. What is God doing here?
For two weeks, our American team worked closely with our brothers and sisters from China in putting on camps for local underprivileged families to teach them the Gospel and healthy family dynamics. Millions of families like those we met live from hand-to-mouth in tiny one or two room apartments. Think of a small room. Now cut that in half. That’s the size of their dwelling.
With this as our backdrop, our mission was clear. Bring the love of Christ and His Gospel to them, crossing language and cultural barriers… in 3 1/2 days. How is this done, you ask? With a lot of prayer and a resourceful God.
Each day we prepared by prayer. We presented skits that highlighted the themes of scripture: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Each team member played multiple roles in the skits; each skit demanded that we give our utmost to bring across the truth and gravity of the story. I played the cloaked figure of satan one day.
We were all keenly aware of the unseen battle going on for the minds and hearts of those at the camp. It is self-evident, written on their faces as they wrestle with the news of Jesus. When one young Chinese boy was asked what he thought about the story of Adam and Eve’s fall, he said, “It was a tragedy.”
But the story goes on; it doesn’t end in tragedy.
The next day I played the role of a lifetime: Jesus himself. This day the skit shared God’s rescue plan in taking on the form of a servant and becoming obedient to death. When the cloth is laid over Jesus and he is dead you could hear a pin drop. Many of the families have never heard this story before. They don’t know what comes next. They don’t understand how God, made flesh, could die. And then it happens. Christ emerges the victor of death and brings His love and gospel to all the world. This is why we’re come to China, to share this life changing news.
The culmination of God’s work over the two weeks we spent in China was the night of reconciliation. The parents, after being presented with the Gospel, and learning effective parenting techniques had a time of public praise for their children. Many of the kids had never heard their parents give a word of praise or approval before this night. What followed was heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure.
“I’m sorry I told you that you aren’t my child, that you are adopted.”
“I’m sorry I hit you and scream at you when I’m angry.”
“I’m sorry I’ve told you that you are dumb.”
“I’m sorry I said I found you in a trash can and that you’re not really my child.”
These were not extreme cases. These sentiments permeated the whole evening.
On and on the stories go, the apologies overflowing, and not a dry eye in the room. These confessions were followed by compliments, restoration, tears, and new beginnings for the parents and their kids.
Malachi 4:6 speaks of the day when God, in Christ, rescues the world, and what it will look like, “He will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents.”
There is much to be done in China; many need to hear of Jesus for the first time; many need emotional and spiritual healing; many need to know that God has the final say in the world.
God’s Spirit is moving like a wave over China, breaking centuries of spiritual bondage, setting captives free, giving unfettered, unrestrained forgiveness and pardon to any who accept His welcome.
So what is God doing in China? More than we can possibly imagine. – Sully
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