Throughout the month of March I have friends spending their spring breaks on mission trips in the US, Central America, South America, Africa, and Asia. I know they would appreciate your prayers. I've been praying that they are willing to be bold for the Lord, radiate the Holy Spirit, and are encouraged by how He is working. Thanks!
Know someone with a story to tell about how the Lord is working? I would love to chat with him or her! Send me an email KatieAxelson[at]gmail[dot]com. <>< Katie
We'd finished eating my birthday lunch, Pizza Hut, and I decided it would be a good idea to show off some of my mad Chinese skills. Emphasis on mad. I'd been in the country a whole week and a half, so I was practically fluent. I knew seven words.
Nǐ hǎo (hello)
Xièxiè (thank you)
The first three went great. My new friends were so impressed! So I decided to show off a little bit.
So I said it again. Yēsū. They still had no idea. This had happened before, my Northern accent got in the way of my Chinese, making me difficult to understand. Yēsū.
After several tries I gave up and said it in English.
You could see the light bulbs go off on their faces. They understood. We'd been talking about Jesus and Christmas for the past several days in class. Yes, they knew the English word "Jesus."
I pray I was just mispronouncing His name in Chinese, but they offered no correction. Maybe they were nervous to speak His name in public. While Christianity is accepted in China, it is not without repercussions. Previously, they had never hesitated to correct me (read: laugh at and correct). It was their turn, the students, to be the teacher. But this time they said nothing but continued conversation in English.
The only alternative I can think of to my mispronunciation is that they did not know the Chinese name of the man we call Jesus. They could not translate the story of the baby born in a manger into their native language.
It broke my heart.
They know Jesus in English, my language, but His a foreign concept to them in their own language. To have never heard the name of Jesus from their own people.
We knew we weren't in China to plant seeds. We were there to plow ground and prepare the soil for seed-planters.
They did know Jesus in English which meant we were doing our job. We were speaking the name of the Lord, presenting to them the Christmas and Easter stories for the first time. For many of them, we were their first interactions with native English speakers. We were also their first interactions with Christ-followers.
That's a huge responsibility. A huge honor. A huge burden.
Even though I was definitely ready to be back in a world where toilets are actually porcelain seats, pollution isn't going to choke me tomorrow, and corn is not a normal pizza topping, I left China realizing that there is so much work left to be done.
The Lord is doing great things in China, don't get me wrong.
We visited a church that after 30 years of arguing was finally granted land after having theirs confiscated by the Chinese government decades ago. It is smaller than the original land, but it is coming with increments of money as well. They have seen the first increment. The government has even said once the worship site is moved, they will work with the bus company to get a stop near the church. For the last 30 years, the church has been meeting as a chicken plant.
In China, Christian churches must be registered with the government. In order to do that, they must be part of the Triple-Self Church.
1. Self-propagated (no foreign evangelists)
2. Self-led (no foreign preachers, guest speakers, worship leaders, et al).
3. Self-funded (no foreign money funding Chinese churches).
Being foreigners in China, we could answer any and all questions honestly (aka: find a way to talk about God in any answer you give). We could teach American holidays (including the real Christmas and Easter). We could hand out Bibles if we were directly asked for them.
It wasn't easy. It was three weeks of jumping loopholes and being concerned about what we could and could not say. It was three weeks of watching God work and trusting Him even when we couldn't see His hand.
There is so much left to be done. But I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of what the Lord is doing there.
For more China stories, including photos and some goofy videos, check out the blog Amber and I kept while we were there: TheChinaAdventures.blogspot.com. Also check out blog posts with the label China.