Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saturday Workshop at the Christian Bookstore (Day 2)

I am exhausted but happy and grateful! About 50 women gathered in a conference room on the second floor of a local Christian bookstore to listen to three of us on the team speak on various topics. The overall theme was relationships.

I was the first to speak. Since I had just finished teaching a class on the book of Psalms, I prepared one of them for China - Psalm 139. It has always been a meaningful one for me, but about 8 or 9 years ago, it became especially powerful in healing a deep wound in my heart. At that time I struggled with insecurity and feeling that my birth was a mistake. God brought these healing words from the psalm to my mind:

Psalm 139:13-18 (NIV)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand---when I awake, I am still with you.

I had a couple of wonderful conversations with some women afterwards. One thing I love about the Chinese people is their honesty and heartfelt response to the truth of Scripture.

Kathy spoke on building bridges with those who may differ from us while Liz spoke on why we need community and why mentoring relationships are valuable.

Liz was especially a big hit because she told some great stories with a lot of dramatic expressions. She had us in stitches. So did her Australian translator. Rebecca has lived in China for 10 years and speaks Chinese fluently. With her bright red hair, she is a kick! She mimicked Liz perfectly and even added a bit of her own flair to the translation. I wish I had videotaped the two of them.

Back to the mentoring. Finding mentors, those who are older and wiser in the faith is very difficult in the urban professional house churches where most of the community is in their 20's and 30's. If a mentor is found, he or she probably is mentoring more than 5-10 at a time. Group mentoring becomes a necessity and the mentee isn't able to have much personal attention. Peer mentoring is probably the norm here. But that is not all bad. Something is working. The believers are committed and growing. Much of that happens in small home groups of 4-8 that meet outside the regular church gatherings. The believers certainly have a strong felt need for community in a culture of suspicion and hostility towards Christianity. Hmmm...perhaps not too much different in America.

The day was a wonderful beginning to our ministry efforts here in Beijing. I had so much fun being a part of a bigger team and seeing these other women speak so lovingly into the hearts and minds of the Chinese believers. As it happened to me on my first trip, Liz and Kathy have also caught the "bug" - getting to be a part of God's incredible work happening in China!

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