Come Over to My House, Come Over and Play

“Come over the my house, come over and play”

A quote from a favorite childhood book. Children from all over the world saying the words “come over to my house.” It’s a beautiful image of friendship, crossing cultures, global unity.

I was a stranger and they invited me in.

In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, A six year old boy of a twenty-one year old mother whom he called sister held hands, in his other hand he grasped the fingers of a tall American woman. Jenny is his sponsor through Compassion International. We followed as he lead us down a dusty road full of roaming cattle, horses and chickens. When he arrived as a small brick house with a tin roof he whirled around and waved his hands in joyous excitement. “Este es mi casa!” “This is my house!”

A six year old boy in the spirit of thanksgiving invited friends over to play. At the beginning of our trip in Bolivia with Compassion International, we were told that we would represent all of the sponsors. What I found was a six year old boy representing Christ.

Skip ahead a few weeks. I’m a stranger in a foreign land. I live at a University in China. A local group of Christians invites my room mate and I to dinner. And Afterwards into their home. They are thrilled to hear we have been praying for them. In China it’s expected you bring a gift if you go to a person’s home. We came empty handed. Yet they welcomes us with open arms. The child sang and danced for us, the grandmother served us fresh fruit.

They new nothing of me and welcomed me anyway.
I was a stranger and they invited me in.

What we have big or small we still have to offer to the work of The Lord. And when we come empty handed he makes no scene over it.

Come over to my house, Jesus.

Advertisements

#11- With a Heart for the Nations

A while back I was looking around my church wondering where all the kids my age were. The 18 to 20 somethings, the less than 30s, the no children, unmarried, people… I recently heard a statistic, only 4% of those people go to church regularly. So I don’t know EXACTLY where the other 96% are but I see was adding up with what I saw in the church building. This makes me thankful for a great number of things which I hope to expound upon in my later posts: the Christian faith myself and my parents were brought up in, the flourishing small group of young adults at Crossroads, and the ministries I see reaching out to young people.

I know for a fact a heckuvalot of these 18 to 20 somethings are on campus in downtown Lexington. There’s like 38k undergrads… something like that. That’s where the people my age are. And there are a lot of really awesome people who are stepping out on campus and loving the heck out of students. One of those people is named Corrie. She has been on my heart tonight and in my prayers.

Corrie is one of the first people I met freshman year. She came to talk to CSF (another really great place full of loving people on campus) about serving international students. My heart was already in a place to receive it and I have no doubt it was because she had been praying and so had I. Corrie is with InterVarsity and she works with International students (and Americans!) and lives on support from the body of Christ (which is really awesome to hear her talk about!). Corrie prays powerful prayers, her heart is humble and seeks God fully. She is constantly inviting students into her home, picking international students from the airport, praying for those around her, and simply serving them. Merely watching her serve will bless you. I am so incredibly thankful for her and the way she gives of herself to serve and love students and glorify God.

Practically speaking Corrie does a number of things, like teach ESL, various Bible studies, she works in tandem with campus ministries and the Office of International Affairs, she builds programs from the bottom up, she shows her heart to those who glance and inspires them to give more of themselves to God, and opens her heart up to the nations and the Lord… God is doing truly incredible things through her and lives on campus are being changed for Jesus.

Tonight I am praising God for how he is at work on campus, especially through Corrie. I ask that you would also pray a prayer of blessing for Corrie and the Kingdom work she is doing, and how ever else the Lord guides you to pray. =)

#8-Kairos

Kairos. Kairos is this really cool word I learned a number of months ago. It’s Greek and it means a moment in time when time stand still. It’s like when everything clicks. It’s like an incredible life event. It’s something you can point back to. A moment in which you heard from God.

Well a while back I began to pray about church. I’d been between churches for a while. Both wonderful places. My family had been attending a newer church and I went with them many Sundays and for the rest of the time I’d been attending Crossroads. I love both churches, but I felt I’d hit a crossroads with my involvement in student ministry and life and just… everything.

Finally I began to dwell on the conviction I had felt in beginning Student Ministry at Crossroads and felt the Lord leading me to continue in that. From that point I’ve done my best to involve myself and my heart more deeply at this place. And from the the opportunities that have arisen for both Stephen and I. The people I have had the blessing to befriend, and be challenged by, and laugh with build me up in such unbelievable ways. I have a feeling of being part of something, something more deeply connected and healthy than possibly ever before.

Tonight I am thankful for the Kairos moment that has lead to opportunity, community, and enrichment.

The stories God weaves are deeply beautiful. His intentions for us are clear as well, we were meant to be part of the Church. To really pray for one another, to challenge each other, to transcend the boundaries of space and time and culture because we all KNOW HIM. And I love that.

1 Corinthians 12 gives us a really great preparation for more Kairos moments. The passage talks about how we are all the same in Christ but we play a different function. I think it’s really important to dwell on how God has gifted us individually and corporately. What do we have? What can we use? Where can we use it? How do we best steward it and how are we lacking? And what are we learning?

This exercise in gratitude is about all of that for me– so that I can clearly reflect on how God is at work in my life, praise him for it, and consider how I can use that to further his kingdom.

Religion in China

I have been back from China for about a month now. My experience was incredible, if not life-changing. Today I would like to talk to you all about Religion in China. Myself being quite a religious person (and because everyone is somewhat religious (please refer to anthropology) I don’t despite this title for myself), I really wanted to know about religion in China.

“You know–China has no religion,” one Chinese girl told me. I have heard many things about China and religion there. First of all, in some areas, religion is oppressed. It is my assumption that the primary area of oppression of religion is in Western China and Tibet. This is only what I learned first hand about religion in China.

In China I visited a Mosque, a Synagogue, 4 Buddhist temples, 1 Taoist temple, and 2 Christian churches (one sanctioned and one unsanctioned). According to Voice of the Martyrs, PRC (People’s Republic of China) recognizes 5 religious groups: Buddhism, Islam, Daoism, Protestantism, and Catholicism. Churches are supposed to register with the government. Non-government churches are illegal in China.

Buddhism and Daoism are two of the primary Chinese religions, they are ancient to China and have combined with folk religions and superstitions. My first encounter with Buddhism in China was a friend of mine in the United States was talking to me about God. My friend was from China and told me that China’s religion was Buddhism. Her thoughts about God were probing and profound and she grappled with how God could care about her, since she was from China.

Buddhism began in China during the Qin dynasty around 220-210 BC. Since then Chinese Buddhism has developed many branches and sects of Buddhism. The religion celebrates the enlightenment of its devoted followers. My first morning in China I saw an older woman counting her prayer beads. Counting the prayer beads in Buddhist tradition is an important task.

In China I visited the Jade Budda Temple and Long Hua temple in Shanghai, a temple on tiger hill in Suzhou, and a temple over-looking the forbidden city. Many of these temples were recently reconstructed, as many of them were used as refuges or forts during the Second Sino-Japanese war and WWII.

Most of the people who came to pray in the temple were older. But not all of them were.

This is a photo of the temple overlooking the Forbidden City (in which the Emperor was treated as a god).

Even though most of the people in the temples were either tourists like us or the older generation, some young couples brought their children. This young girl was following the lead of her parents in praying to the gods.

These are some people praying to gods and goddesses of Buddhism.

These are some cauldrons for incense, which many people burn as they pray.

Such as this woman who is bowing to each corner of the world with he burning incense.

________________________________________

The Temple of Heaven is regarded as a Daoist temple, but it was possibly built before Daoism became a religion in China and it is also regarded as Chinese Heaven Worship (I looked all of this up on Wikipedia… soo….)

The emperor is known to have worshiped there.

Interestingly enough Valerie and I went with our professor (Luo Laoshi) to a Jewish museum in Shanghai. Judaism has been in China for many years. Jews migrated to China as early as 7th century AD. They blended with the Chinese to become a dual culture. Later in the 1940s Jews from Europe sought refuge in the only country that would take them, and they lived in an area of Shanghai. The first group of Jews are known as the Kaifeng and they are an ethnic minority in China, hardly recognized by the government. They experienced persecution in the Tang dynasty. Now they are nearly impossible to distinguish from the Han Chinese (the primary people group of China) or the Hui (the Muslim Chinese people group).

During the 1940s Jewish refugees were met by the Kaifeng Jews in Shanghai and the refugees lived in this area of Shanghai.

This photo is a glass engraving of the first chapter of the Torah (or Genesis 1) written in traditional Chinese.

The Museum is located in this synagogue which is used for ceremonies such as weddings to this day, but according the the curator Jews no longer practice their religion in China. She did not either know, or would not give me a reason for this, but I suspect it is because they are not a recognized religion by the government. Therefore, they can practice cultural ceremonies like the wedding that happened the day before I was there, but they cannot hold services. The curator told me those two things were quite different.

______________________

While Islam is regarded as an Middle-Eastern religion, it has flourished in China nearly since its birth. The Chinese Muslims, the Hui people, live in communities all over China. In Beijing I visited an ancient mosque from the 12th century AD called the Niu Jie Mosque. Like all religion, Islam was suppressed during the Cultural Revolution. During this time Muslims were not permitted to go on a Hajj which is the journey to Mecca. But in 2001 the China Islamic Association was started by the government. This works to allow certain rights to the Muslim communities such as marriage performed by an Imam.

Here is a picture of a Chinese Muslim woman studying the Qu’ran in the Mosque.

______________

Christianity is now a recognized religion in China. Christians experienced extreme persecution during the Cultural Revolution, but soon, the government realized that the more they persecuted the Church the stronger it became.

Persecution still occurs in many areas of China, and especially in Western China.

Churches in China are supposed to register with the government. I went to two churches in China, one home church (unregistered) and one international church (registered).

The home church was in a 7th story apartment. We sang hymns in Chinese and studied the Bible. There were maybe 20 Chinese there for the service. The church has been in existence for some ten years. My friend there told me that it is not that dangerous as long as they don’t bother the neighbors or preach in the streets. In other areas of China, it can be very dangerous to be in a house church, and Americans or any non-Chinese would be unable to go to the church because they would risk its exposure to the government.

The international church is set up to be for only international peoples. The church was registered by the government and pastored by my pastor’s brother in law. Unlike the Chinese service, the church service was in English. People from all over the world (including some Chinese (or possibly Taiwanese)) attended the Church. The church meets in a building they rent from the government. And while you may have heard that they were unable to preach the full gospel, I found the church the be genuine and preach the gospel. Chinese people are not supposed to attend a church which is pastored by a non-Chinese per government regulation.

 

Religion is not often talked about in China, yet the Chinese are eager to know about religion and Christianity. Christianity is spreading rapidly in China and has been for many years (despite the government oppression, even during the Cultural Revolution). I had the opportunity to share the gospel with two Chinese girls from my campus and they were fascinated and interested… they were captivated by the idea that God would love them even though they lived in China.

God’s passion is for us all of us, regardless of our ethnicity, political views, or religion. A fire is spreading in China. And God is consuming the attention of people all over the PRC.