Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Third Day- China

A friend who spent the last year in China recently commented that if you visit China for a week, you can write a book. It you visit China for a month, you can write an article. If you visit China for a year, you can’t write anything. I now know what she means. I’ve been here for not even a week and I’m hesitant to write, because it’s such a complex, rapidly changing culture. And I’m still in Hong Kong!

This week I’ve had the privilege of teaching and interacting with 70-80 Chinese church leaders from all parts of China. Talk about diversity: yesterday I met a young Malaysian man who is working amongst the Chinese in Tibet. Over dinner I sat next to a woman who was responsible for training 2,200 workers this past summer to reach 128,000 Chinese children in one city through vacation Bible schools. Still another is a bi-vocational pastor who manages a full-time job while circulating between his twenty-one, yes twenty-one, congregations!

This morning before I took the platform to speak, I stood with these leaders singing, “The Old Rugged Cross.” Suddenly a young Chinese woman began to weep loudly with a heart-felt prayer of confession “Lord forgive us, forgive us Lord! We have failed You in being people of the cross!” Others began to weep and so did I. I was moved and humbled by her ardent declaration of brokenness. Most of these leaders Quique Fernandez and I are teaching this week minister daily in very urban settings. Their issues are complex, their questions are thoughtful, their industriousness is exemplary, and their courage is admirable.

Quique said something during his teaching yesterday that resounded with me. He said, “Every time you venture outside your own culture to interact with another culture, expect to learn a great deal about others, but more about yourself!”

I have a lot to learn from these!

Every blessing,

S t r e t c h e d

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hong Kong #2

We relocated today from downtown Hong Kong to and area a 45 minutes drive north of the center city. The King’s College training will begin tomorrow morning and we will take the subway each day to Ecclesia Bible College from our hotel.

Last night one of the Asian Outreach workers, Audrey took Quique and me to an authentic Chinese restaurant. This was no PF Chang’s. She treated us to the works and made sure we got a sampling of Chinese delicacies, including chicken feet. Yes, bonafide, ‘meat on the bone’ chicken feet. Now I’ve been known to put a foot in my mouth, but not like this! My hostess gave me permission to eat it like the Chinese—that is, you place the whole foot in your mouth, gnaw away the tender meat and voila, remove the bone when you have finished. Not too bad! After dinner, we walked a few blocks the well-known Hong Kong night market.

On Sunday Quique and I attended the Rainful Church on Honk Kong. A three-year church that meets in a government building. The Hong Kong government rents the facility to the church for $1.00 HK per year. Since the government understands the church wants to reach the aging population in their area these kinds of arrangements are quite common here. This is such a contrast to the often cold and indifferent relationship churches in the US have with government bodies. It works here rather amicably. I preached the message while David Wang translated. That was a bit intimidating.

We’re tired but looking forward to beginning the training tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Every blessing,

S t r e t c h e d

Friday, September 25, 2009

Touchdown in Hong Kong

We arrived early this morning in Hong Kong. We're staying at one of my favorite places called Tsim Sha Tsui overlooking beautiful Victoria Harbor. Tall, colorfully glistening skyscrapers surround the harbor sending their reflections rippling across the the choppy nighttime waters. It's a breathtaking site! Each evening the city presents its Symphony of Lights. Named the World's Largest Permanent Light Show by the Guinness World Records this lighting spectacle involves 44 different buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbor creating an all-around panoramic of colored lights, laser beams and search lights. Synchronized to music and narration it celebrates the energy, diversity and imagination of this magnificent Asian city.

We awoke this morning and peered out our 14th floor room below to the distinctive “ski-jump” roof of the newly constructed Cultural Centre dominating the waterfront. Hong Kong, unlike other parts of China is a city known for its cuture. The city teems with life, diversity and youthfulness. Quique and I both noticed how young the population is in Hong Kong. Later over breakfast, we learned that most Chinese, especially those from the Mainland have only known one culture—the Chinese one. But China wants to interact with and gain exposure to the world. One of the exciting things about being here this week is that Quique will be lecturing all week long on “Cultural Anthropology,” with special emphasis in helping Chinese pastors and leaders to develop a Biblical Worldview. I will be training those same leaders in how to take timeless Biblical truth and speak into the ever-changing cultural realities. It’s significant that we are here to learn and interact with serious-minded believers trying to understand their context and help shape their methodologies and ministries with Biblical truth. We were told the students will come hungry and eager to learn. Ironically, I think we stand to learn much more from this experience.

Pray for us as we begin this adventure. I am grateful to God for His strength and mercy; strength which stretches me and His mercy, that upholds.

Every blessing,

S t r e t c h e d