Forays Above Ground

One of the things that I believe with really be important for the future of the work here is how people on the outside of the church see us. I think this really started to sink in when I was talking to a guy from Taiwan last year who travels extensively here in the mainland. He told me that he had been to a church several times (in a province far from where I live) that had grown significantly and had sort of poked their head above ground. Well, they got themselves a visit from the police – but not like we normally imagine. The police more or less said, “We like your kind of church, your kind of people, but you just can’t be this large. If you split up into several smaller churches, there shouldn’t be any problem.” Supposedly they did, and there hasn’t been.


Before you get real upset at China and their policies about things like religious workers, you need to reflect a little bit on China’s past and present woes. In the past couple hundred years, the outside world has given China every reason to doubt its good intentions. And the current generation has seen dozens of bizarre and borderline-dangerous cults and personalities amass followings. That’s an unacceptable risk in their eyes. You say “repression,” they say “protection.”


Anyway, I very often think of what the police told that church’s leaders. They like the church – they knew there was a difference between them and the wackos in the Falun Gong cult. Besides their breaking of a legal numerical barrier, they couldn’t complain about anything the church was doing. Quite a testimony, really. So this is kind of a prayer request – that we would become the kind of church that, when we meet with opposition (which is inevitable, as careful as we may be), those around us would talk like that. Which I think is a better plan than hiding forever.


Accordingly, my wife and her girls’ groups organized an activity last Saturday that took them to the poorest part of town (where most college students would never think of going) and spent a few hours with the kids from there and the surrounding neighborhoods. They had talked to the landlords of the areas first, and the landlords pretty much spread the word for them. They played games, told Bible stories, and gave out balloons and candy. They had also prepared some care packages for each kid to take home to their family. I think our members got as much out of it as the neighborhood – they really had a great time.


So I pray that we can continue to find ways to serve the community, to love the people, and make the kind of impression that only Jesus can make through us. (if you have any ideas, please feel free to tell me about them) Otherwise, our stay and impact here will most definitely be quite limited.

One Comment on “Forays Above Ground”

  1. baddogmooney July 29, 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    Awesome. Never really thought of it from the “repression” versus “protection” side of it. It’s a great work you are doing.

    – mooney

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