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Scavenger hunt paves way for missions

BEIJING, China (BP)–The assignment was to take a bus to the subway station, choose an unexplored subway stop and spend the day sizing up the area to determine what a team of volunteers could do there.

Anticipating the challenges ahead, the three Westerners counted their Chinese currency, grabbed their subway cards and crossed over three lanes of traffic to find the right bus. They remembered their host’s suggestion to take the bus with Chinese characters next to the number. “That bus,” she had said, “drops you off closer to the subway.”

Finally, the bus with the Chinese characters arrived. The bus already was crowded, but not yet to standing room only. By the time the team made it to the downtown subway system, the bus was loaded with people, young and old, male and female.

This was no great surprise because more than 18.2 million people call Beijing home, twice the size of New York City. More than 95 percent of Beijing’s residents belong to the Han Chinese majority, but more than 55 minority groups also live in the capital.

Though initially they were warm and receptive when the Americans caught their eyes, the brown-eyed Chinese bus riders quickly lost themselves in their own thoughts, quietly watching the urban landscape pass by.

A quiet people, there were some muffled conversations and some laughter, but the busy sounds of traffic proved much louder.

It takes about 40 minutes by bus to get to the downtown station. At the subway, the Americans followed the escalators to the platform where they studied the large posted maps.

“Jesus, where would You have us go today?” they asked silently.

Noting a stop west of the famous Tiananmen Square, the team made a decision. It would require a transfer to another train, but the team was ready. They boarded the subway, finding it much more crowded than the bus.

“Lord, please help the people on this train to know You,” the female team member prayed. As she looked into each person’s eyes, she pleaded, “Jesus, please let each person’s name be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Observing the passengers, she saw emptiness and weariness in their eyes. “Help each person to find rest in You,” she urged.

The Chinese have very little criminal activity because the government has zero tolerance for most crimes, and offenders quickly face the death penalty. But the team members were told to watch their belongings closely because pickpocketing is fairly common. Throughout the ride, the three Americans touched their money belts and neck holders.

The team transferred to another crowded line and prepared for their final destination.

“Jesus,” they prayed. “Give us Your eyes, so that we may see the work that You are already doing.”

When they disembarked, they followed the concrete sidewalks to a busy intersection. There, they discovered several eateries, an urban market and even a KFC restaurant. Already they were achieving success on their spiritual scavenger hunt.

They also checked out a nice hotel, which at the time was crowded with guests for a wedding reception. The team smiled as the bride and groom made an eventful entrance into their special party.

On their map, the team noted a large park, one of the 500 parks in Beijing. Perhaps this would be the ideal location where a future team could come and engage the Chinese.

At the park, the team discovered several landmarks which they thought would help future team members in finding each other.

Like the other parks in Beijing, this park had several open spaces where families flew kites, young adults played hackey-sack and older adults engaged in board games and music performances.

Enjoying immensely the cultural experience, the team took in the sights and sounds of people taking time in their day to enjoy each other.

The team wanted to linger, but the assignment beckoned. They still had to determine how secure a future team would be. As soon as the question slipped out of their mouths, the team saw the sign for a police station. A few steps later, they discovered several Chinese military units nearby.

“Jesus, what would You have us to do?” they thought to themselves. Would this be a wise place to share about how powerfully God has changed their lives? Would people be willing to hear what they have to say?

The team turned back toward the subway, needing to find a restaurant closer to the park. After a couple of blocks, they found a beautiful Chinese restaurant, flanked by traditional red lanterns.

Hungry, they decided to try it out, only to discover that no one spoke English. Up for the challenge, the three Americans managed to order a meal by pointing to photos in the menu.

The otherwise uneventful lunch was challenged by other patrons’ apparent disapproval of three Americans’ presence. The waitress shouted them down, leaving the Americans to wonder, “Are those men disapproving communists? Are we to feel threatened?”

Acknowledging God’s protection, the three continued their meal, pausing to say an open-eyed blessing. They settled down in their hearts, not to be outdone by the enemy’s attempts to dissuade them.

Indeed, God had shown them a place to bring a team next summer. Despite the concerns, they sensed God had led them to this place.

Walking back to the subway, the three agreed that God’s heart was bigger than their nervousness. Yes, the people who visit the park are worth the challenge.

And with resolve in their minds, the three completed their assignment, yearning for the next time they would enter the area and engage the people for Jesus.

“Prepare people’s hearts now,” they prayed. “Oh God of heaven and earth, bring the right people together so that souls are saved!”

Walking away, the three began to think of their next summer, confident that God will do more than they can dream.
*Name changed for security concerns.

    About the Author

  • Lee Taylor*