Our Trip to China, 2014.
In March of this year we went back again to Shenzhen, where we lived and worked from 1995 to 2006. We were able to visit four of the churches in the area as well as meeting up with lots of our old friends.
The church in Meilin, where we used to worship, is the main one in Shezhen. It opened in 2001 and seats 2,000 or more, and is filled at all three services every Sunday. This is in addition to a Korean service and the English Fellowship (our old English Class) in the afternoon and an English service in the evening that they have been running for about a year with the help of some American Lutherans. Each service has its own Sunday School with children ranging from tots to teenagers.
We had four sessions with the English Fellowship there this year, talking about four of the people who met Jesus in John’s Gospel: Nicodemus in chapter 3, the Samaritan woman in chapter 4, the man born blind and Thomas in chapter 20. There were many old friends there, as well as lots of new ones, and it was good to be able to spend time with them.
We were also able to visit the church in Huaqiaocheng again, where our old friend Pastor Nicholas is the pastor. It was Pastor Nicholas and his wife who adopted little Tian Ai when she was abandoned in the Meilin church 4 years ago: unfortunately she didn’t want to be photographed when we met her with her daddy this year! We were also able to spend some time with the English Fellowship there as well: as usual, there was a time of singing and worship followed by Bible study and discussion.
The church in Longgang also wanted to see us again. The Longgang church has recently moved to some new premises in the adjoining building to where they were before. The new premises are larger, with the worship hall, which is upstairs over some shops and a restaurant, seating well over 1,000. We were able to make a couple of visits to the English Fellowship there as well.
It seems that many of the churches have English groups now, following the pattern set by the English Class in the Meilin Church. Many people in China want to practise and improve their English, and so these groups provide a wonderful opportunity for evangelism. For, as wise old Pastor Liao said more than 15 years ago, “If you want to learn English in the church, you will learn Bible English!”
Another new church that we visited is in Buxin on the east side of Shenzhen. This is a new development, being set up in a former bar right next door to the area’s meat and vegetable market. There has never been a church in this part of the city before, but already more than 100 are meeting every Sunday, even though the building was still being fitted out when we visited them.
It seems that wherever you look in Shenzhen, there are groups of Christians meeting together for fellowship and Bible study. They give up their evenings and lunch hours, meeting in all sorts of places – businessmen, bankers, lawyers, teachers, factory workers, housewives, all keen to deepen their Bible knowledge and draw closer to God. We met up with quite a few of them – they kept us very busy in the few weeks we were there, but we were left wishing we could have spent longer with them.
In spite of the full schedule we did actually manage to get away from it all for a few hours on our last Saturday afternoon in Shenzhen. A couple of sisters took us out to lakeside resort, where they treated us to a meal and then hired a little motorboat to take us for a trip round the lake. It was really peaceful there and we had a wonderful, relaxing time. Thank you, Cathy and Sharon!
It was, though, a very busy time and we were glad to spend a couple of days doing some more relaxing in Hong Kong before we flew back to England. The brothers and sisters in the Shenzhen churches all send their greetings to everyone at Beacon, and ask us to remember them in our prayers.