A Chinese woman noticed the English Bible in Mike's hand.
She pointed to it and, with a huge smile on her face, pulled her Chinese Bible out of her purse. Mike smiled back, and the exchange ended. At least as far as I could see from my seat across the over-crowded public bus.
The bus only got hotter and more crowded as we approached our destination: a Chinese church meeting at a chicken plant because they spent thirty years fighting the government to regain their land that was seized.*
Our team and several Chinese people got off at the stop at the church's gate. This woman was thrilled!
She grabbed Juanita by the arm, looked directly in her eyes, and began to ramble in Chinese. Juanita didn't understand a word of it, but she understood this woman's joy.
The woman kept trying different phrases, willing Juanita to understand.
"Hallelujah," the Chinese woman said. Juanita understood.
It's not identical in both languages, but it's a cognate. The two sisters could not converse with words, but they could worship together.
What more does one need?
Note: Words like "Amen" and "Jesus" are also cognates. That's about all we understood of the service.
* Though it is significantly smaller and more out of the way than the original land, the Chinese government has given the church land along with monetary contributions (to make up for the rest of the acreage) and a promise to assist in the placement of a bus stop near church property. This fall, they hope to break ground to complete the 1,500-seat building by Christmas 2012. The pastor of this church rotates between it and at least ten other local churches.