I’m sitting in my hotel room listening to the sound of exploding fireworks outside. Today is some sort of mini pre-festival day leading up to the Chinese New Year celebration known as Spring Festival. Spring Festival is definitely the most exciting holiday in China, and the most widely and enthusiastically celebrated. The festival officially lasts six days, but preparations begin days in advance. Prior to the festival families do a thorough cleansing of their home, buy new party clothes, and purchase enough groceries to last for the entire six days (everything shuts down during the festival… it’s not like the U.S. where the poor McDonald’s employees have to serve Big Macs on holidays). China does holidays right. The city shuts down and everyone spends time off with family and friends. I’ve been extended several invitations to celebrate Spring Festival with friends and their families. The Chinese are very warm and inclusive and intent on having no one be alone during such an important time. It’s nice.
The ride home from work this evening was beautiful (and mildly frightening). Fireworks lit up the skyline… and by skyline I mean where all the tall buildings are. Right in the middle of all them. Beautiful little flaming sparks flying toward large flammable buildings filled with hundreds of people. Not sure it’s really a good idea to light off big Fourth of Jul-Ivars type fireworks on narrow streets between skyscrapers. I’m just saying…
But it was pretty.
Today was a really good day. I slept in, I ate two square meals (which is more than I can say for most days), and other than finding out that I was supposed to work three hours earlier than I’m normally scheduled on Saturdays (after I was already an hour late), work went really well too! I had my first Bible Story English Corner today!! Oh gosh, it was so good!!!
The school hung a poster on the student bulletin board advertising my class, and I had about 25 people show up (Saturdays are a light day at Web, especially this close to Spring Festival)! After spending a lot of time praying and considering where I should start, I thought where better than at the beginning?! So I set out to share the story of creation with the class. As a preface I talked about Chrisianity from a cultural perspective and how according to recent figures roughly 82% of Americans profess to be Christians. I didn’t go too much into all the implications of the statistic, but more just wanted to give a cultural framework for the Christian faith. Especially since I was not preaching, but attempting to present the faith in an informative way. It was actually really challenging. I had to use a lot of phrases like, “according to the Bible” or “Christians believe…” Definitely a very different way of presenting what I believe. I also explained what Christians believe about the Bible (I defined the word “infallible” and attributed it to the Word), what it is (many students knew absolutely nothing about it), how it’s laid out, who wrote it, etc. I thought it was important to lay that groundwork before telling the stories.
I shared the creation story by reading it verse-by-verse and stopping after each to explain what was happening. I tried to expound as much as I could and draw the students in by asking them questions. I could tell some students thought the story was absolutely ridiculous (this was something I had to work really hard on not getting discouraged by). Others seemed entertained, and some seemed genuinely interested in learning more. After I finished the story I explained some of the different ways people interpret the creation account. I didn’t go into too much detail but emphasized that the point wasn’t how God created the heavens and the earth, but that He created them. The conversation got really interesting when we got into man being made in God’s image. This led to a lot of questions about life & death and heaven & hell: what happens when we die, is hell real, who goes there, how do we get to heaven, how do we become angels, who is Satan, are we ourselves in heaven if our body doesn’t go with us, why does God punish people, what are demons, what determines whether I get into heaven or not… and the questions went on and on. You can understand the difficulty of trying to answer these questions in an informative way. But I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit who quickly brought answers (or questions) to mind that either addressed the questions or provoked further thought.
It will be so interesting to see where all of this leads. It really is so humbling to be sharing the Good News with people who may be hearing it for the first time. I feel so under-qualified, but up for the challenge, and extremely grateful for the opportunity to share not just His story, but also His love. I’ve been asking the Lord to let this passage mark each lesson:
Corinthians 2:4-5 "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."
I guess we’ll see what happens! :)
I’m so impressed and amazed at how God works. While making plans to move to China, one of my biggest concerns was my degree. I worried that such a blatantly religious degree would hinder me from securing a job. Only the Lord could orchestrate something like this. The “hindrance” became the wide open door for me to share the Gospel. My boss never would have known, nor would he have asked me to share my “expertise” with the students, if my degree had been in anything else. It makes me wonder why I seem to worry about things so much… He knows what He’s doing.
On a completely unrelated note… this was SO delicious!!!!
Who knew something named after facial hair could be so tasty!?!
Not tasty: “Beef” that is later discovered to be cow tongue. More on that later…