Low Tide

Just when you thought it was safe to stop thinking about China 

After a brief sabbatical that I like to call “January,” it’s about time I start recording some of the stuff that’s going on. The truth is, this is supposed to be the slow time of the year for us. Over the past four weeks, everyone has left. Well, everyone but ten or fifteen people. This is our first Spring Festival in China, so it’s been a real surprise for us how many students actually go home. Chun Jie, or Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is the biggest holiday here, so most of the students, even the ones that live on the opposite side of the country, will go home for at least a couple weeks, or up to about two months, the length of their winter school break.  

The number of departures escalates up to the festival, Feb. 6th. And they’ll start trickling back in up to the beginning of March. So, anyway, we’ve been trying to put together a church calendar that harnesses, rather than suffers from, the effects of this kind of cycle. Two month vacations twice a year, two four month semesters will necessarily be the divisions of the calendar.  

For example, three weeks ago we changed our schedule to one service (our space problems have gone away for now) on Sunday and another more classroom-like service on Saturday night. We’re calling it the Gospel Class and for eight weeks, we’re going through some major doctrines and values that we believe are essential to being a Bible-honoring, Christ-exalting church. So far it’s been fun and generated far more questions and discussions than the average message I preach.  This class will last right up to the end of the vacation, and then we’re going to try to work hard to make contact with lots of new students when the new semester begins. 

There’s only a couple reasons that a student would still be around this close to the festival. They’re either natives to this area, they’re ultra-involved in classes, they’re ultra-excluded from their families, or, my final and favorite category – church junkies! There are two guys that over the past couple months have become huge blessings and answers of prayer for me personally. I’ve mentioned them before – St. and T. They’re still in town, staying ’til pretty much the last possible moment, and then running home to the festival for a few days. They’re taking turns preaching for ten minutes every other week, and they’re on the calendar to preach a couple times this semester. I’ll talk more about these guys in the coming days, but I can tell you that the most gigantic prayer request I have for 2008 is to find a couple more of these guys – our Friday class for guys desiring to serve as pastors is at three now – one more is joining this Friday. Two of them are “in-house” guys, and two of them are from other house churches. Please pray that the Lord will raise up a couple more laborers this year. 

I get discouraged pretty easily about lower numbers, but it’s pretty exciting to know that there are new Christians from our group that are literally spread out into every corner of China right now, many of them with a burden to talk to their families about their commitment to follow Christ! And this is a great time of focus. We actually have a decent worker-attender ratio now, so nobody’s really slipping through the cracks. St. led a guy to Christ last week – it was his second time coming (as a guest of one of this summer’s Commie-party converts)! So praise the Lord – He’s still working! 

One Comment on “Low Tide”

  1. David G January 29, 2008 at 9:40 am #

    Hey man, I just thought I would give you an idea you can either use or throw away.
    You could probably think about having some of your people (St. T.) write their testimony for you and posting it on the blog, I think it would be pretty neat to read about them and how salvation, church, dedication, etc. was experienced through their eyes.
    just a thought

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