What was supposed to be 4 days of ministry turned into a full 7 days in a row…
Travelling far distances to rural communities and churches, often several in a day, where we sang and shared a message via a translator, and distributed Bibles to everyone in attendance.
The churches were packed, overflowing into the streets and alleyways… with hundreds and thousands of people, many who brought unsaved friends and family because they heard that white foreigners would be there giving out free Bibles!
When we would give the salvation call at the end of the service, there was a rumble in the congregation as people looked around or beckoned into the streets, wanting to make sure their friends were raising their hands.
We’ve never experienced such a hunger for the Gospel.
The Bible distributions often got a bit chaotic, with pushing and shoving as desperate hands reached out to grab one. Messy but beautiful all at once. I can’t imagine that the crowds around Jesus were well-behaved… nor did He expect them to be.
The night we arrived in China, I was wide awake at 2am… jet lag had set in. But I immediately sensed that God was speaking, and jet lag or not, He has a standing invitation to wake me in the night with visions and dreams. The vision on this night in particular was this: our missions team was sitting in a restaurant with meals in front of us, laughing and enjoying our food and each other. Chinese people, large numbers of them, started entering the restaurant, saw us eating and refused to see the menu, saying “I’ll have what they’re having.”
What a picture of what we were here in China to do, and the response we were hoping and praying for. Sometimes the thought of preaching the Gospel or ministering through music in a foreign land can be intimidating… (how do I speak? what do I say? what if it comes out wrong?).
But when we take the focus off of DOING, and focus on just BEING real people whose lives have been radically changed by the incredible love of Christ… that’s all God asks of us.To remember what He’s done for me… to reflect on where I would be without the love of God… and to share that so authentically that who wouldn’t say “I’ll have what they’re having”.
And so, when you look past the terrible utter-lack-of-privacy washrooms, the 20+ courses at every meal of “don’t-even-ask-what-kind-of-meat-that-is”, the terribly out-of-tune church pianos, the crazy no-rules horns-blaring traffic, the dust and the grime, the chaos and the discomfort...
You see the little boy who couldn’t fit inside the church packed like sardines, breaking every fire code there is… you see how he’s climbed up outside the church wall and perched in the windowsill, his phone stretched out recording your every word because he doesn’t want to miss a thing.
You see the grandma, after you’ve prayed for her severely ill grandson, saying “I will never ever ever forget you”. You see the tears in the eyes of the young girl who raises her hand at the salvation call, and you know she really, really gets it. You don’t just see them. You SEE them.
You see them and you smile, because joy is contagious and kindness is in every language.
You hold tightly to a hand that reaches out to grab yours or you stay in a hug just a little bit longer… because that’s all you can do. And you choose to believe that the love of God stretches way beyond a language barrier and the Spirit moves in more powerful ways than you can even imagine.