Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heyuan to Zijin to Hong Kong

It was time to leave at 8:30, and after a good night’s sleep at the Emperor Court Hotel (a tribute to the Napoleonic era!) we had a very Chinese breakfast (that I topped off with a granola bar) and we hit the road.  The countryside drive from Heyuan to Zijin took us through traditional villages, rice paddies, and mountains; scenery that is not remotely a part of my normal life.  I’m so thankful for Timothy Lam’s work as our guide, interpreter, and driver.  He has given us so much insight, and he has kept us safe.
We parked our vehicle at the government building, and walked the streets of Zijin to the church building.  Like many of the churches we’ve seen, you entered on the first floor, which was a combination parking garage and kitchen, and walked upstairs to a sanctuary.  It looked much smaller than the main floor of GBC, but they normally have 1000 worshiping there and another 1000 who can only make the trip a few times a month due to work or distance.  Pastor Liu hosted training in the past, and now a generation of workers has been raised up there to go out.  30-40 trained workers, plus others, came this morning for further training.  I met one of the pastors who was trained one year ago, has been pastoring since, and has 1000 people attending his church, with 100 baptisms in the last year.  I greeted these precious brothers and sisters, and Pastor Lam shared instruction on starting family (small) groups—“study the Bible every time, pray for each other and for the government and the church, don’t gossip, and help the poor” were the main points. 
We then went to visit the construction site of this congregation’s new building.  It will seat over 1000, and they will keep the old facility as well.  Keep in mind, this is the “official” church that is evangelizing, growing, baptizing, and is receiving encouragement (and some funds in the past) from the government to grow.  And they are sending out more pastors, who are starting more churches.  This huge construction project needs $300,000 to finish, and the church has already raised and paid more than that for the land, the building structure, and the first floor.
Another banquet followed, with some things I’d eat (deep fried egg yolk in bread), and others I’d rather not—strangely, the mushroom soup tasted nothing like mushroom soup, but I opted for it over the duck blood.  Watching the Lams interact with the government officials was a lesson in wisdom, discernment, and the power of relationship and trust.  I’m learning much by watching my brothers here, and am reminded of just how much the various parts of the Body of Christ need each other—to help and to learn from each other.
Lunch came to an end, and Timothy drove us the 3 hours to Shenzhen, where we walked across a border and caught the Hong Kong subway back to the Salisbury YMCA—literally right there (this was after going through exit inspection in China, customs, and Hong Kong immigration first).  A few last minute chores needed to be done, and then it was time for a farewell dinner of sorts as Todd and Myron will head back to Beijing, and I’ll fly out tomorrow for the US.