NEW ORLEANS (BP)–I was definitely not the eager one shouting, “Here I am, Lord. Send me!” after being invited on a “Vision Tour” of China led by Rhonda Kelley, one of my instructors at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and wife of seminary’s president, Chuck Kelley. But I did promise to pray and seek God’s will — I already knew what my own was: to stay safe and sound at home.
Finally, I said that if the Lord provided the funds, I’d go. Let this be a lesson to all: Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, NASB). Not only was more than enough money provided, I soon found myself on a plane en route to China.
By the time my feet touched the ground, I found that my heart had already taken root there. I had the privilege of attending a service in one of the registered churches. When my host and I arrived in the neighborhood, we walked down a long and dirty alley where we could hear music on a loud speaker. Those sounds were coming from inside the church, and around that speaker people were gathered like the hungry to a feast.
As a clock chimed the time, the people pushed up the stairs along with us and went inside. The building was instantly packed to overflowing, and those unable to fit into the sanctuary hurried to other levels of the building to stand around more speakers where they would be able to hear the service.
I recognized the melodies to many of the hymns and continually found myself sobbing as I sang along with my Chinese brothers and sisters. The hour seemed to pass in a blink. The clock chimed again and the people were ushered out one door while another eager throng pushed through another. My host told me that the church held five services every Sunday, each one packed beyond capacity.
I met one church leader whose congregation, just before my arrival, had completed 40 days of prayer and fasting. The result? Two thousand new believers were baptized. And yet with “success” stories such as this, there are still thousands of cities completely unreached by the good news.
One of my biggest fears had been the language barrier. As we smiled into each other’s faces, the Holy Spirit placed such a oneness within our hearts that there was no need for words – the love these people have for Jesus made my own heart ache to love him even more.
I was also able to meet with a group of home church leaders, most of whom were women. All had congregations of hundreds and all humbled me with their dedication to the work of the kingdom. They were deeply touched that an American cared enough to come and see what God’s people are experiencing in China.
When I asked through my translator to be allowed to pray for specific needs, the requests were heart wrenching. Some simply wanted to learn to read and write so that they could better shepherd their flocks. Others who were meeting in abandoned buildings – some of which didn’t even have roofs – wanted more adequate meeting places. Many needed Bibles.
Almost all of these people live in areas where there are zero workers from outside China. The opportunities are there – that’s not the problem – but “the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37).
I met people from all over the world and from every walk of life who are living out their faith in China. Some are teaching school; some are working in the medical profession; others are working in the corporate world. All are following the Great Commission.
In several cities I learned there is what’s known as an “English corner,” a spot where students who want to practice their English sort of hang out and hope to meet English-speaking visitors to China. This opportunity alone was incredible. Although I could not initiate a discussion of my faith, I was completely free to respond to anyone who asked me about the cross I was wearing.
Mission opportunities in China range from a week to a lifetime. Those who are already working in China need help, love and support. I would urge every believer to be obedient to what Jesus told his followers to do, which is to “beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers” (Matthew 9:38). Who knows? Maybe China is part of God’s plan for your life.
Ask him, and check out: www.peopleteams.org/chinese/default.htm.
The writer’s name has been changed for security reasons to allow future opportunities in China.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo tiles: THEY WAIT and OPPORTUNE STREETS.