Visiting Shut-Ins

In 2007 I was able to spend a week with some family medicine residents in Shenyang. One afternoon I went with them to a nursing home to do a  health check with the residents. I was able to help out by taking blood pressure. Later, one of my friends took me to visit some of the other residents. Some were bedfast, others were in wheelchairs while some were semi-independent. One of the residents was a 93 year old lady. When I met her she was wearing a simple outfit with a vest and some earrings. At 93 this lady had a very clear mind. With the help of my friend this lady and I had a pleasant conversation. She was very curious about my life in the United States and asked several questions. When she found out I was married she asked how many children my wife and I had. When I told her we didn’t have any children she seemed surprised and said, “Meiyou haizi?” which means “No children?” I explained that we do have many nephews and nieces which are like our children. As I was getting ready to leave this lady reached out,  took hold of my hand and asked “When are you coming back?” I told her that the next time I came back to China I would try and come visit her. Later, after I had returned home my friend emailed me to let me know that this lady had passed away. I’m thankful for that brief visit we had together. I still smile when I remember that sweet lady asking “Meiyou haizi?”


    The people in that nursing home in China aren’t  that different from those in nursing homes in this country. They look forward to visitors. With all the physical ailments that they have to deal with perhaps the worst ailment is not physical - it is loneliness. At Norway we have recently started a shut-in ministry. This is an opportunity to reach out to our shut-ins, to visit them and to let them know they are not forgotten. 
 

Visiting Shut-Ins

In 2007 I was able to spend a week with some family medicine residents in Shenyang. One afternoon I went with them to a nursing home to do a health check with the residents. I was able to help out by taking blood pressure. Later, one of my friends took me to visit some of the other residents. Some were bedfast, others were in wheelchairs while some were semi-independent. One of the residents was a 93 year old lady. When I met her she was wearing a simple outfit with a vest and some earrings. At 93 this lady had a very clear mind. With the help of my friend this lady and I had a pleasant conversation. She was very curious about my life in the United States and asked several questions. When she found out I was married she asked how many children my wife and I had. When I told her we didn’t have any children she seemed surprised and said, “Meiyou haizi?” which means “No children?” I explained that we do have many nephews and nieces which are like our children. As I was getting ready to leave this lady reached out, took hold of my hand and asked “When are you coming back?” I told her that the next time I came back to China I would try and come visit her. Later, after I had returned home my friend emailed me to let me know that this lady had passed away. I’m thankful for that brief visit we had together. I still smile when I remember that sweet lady asking “Meiyou haizi?”

The people in that nursing home in China aren’t that different from those in nursing homes in this country. They look forward to visitors. With all the physical ailments that they have to deal with perhaps the worst ailment is not physical - it is loneliness. At Norway we have recently started a shut-in ministry. This is an opportunity to reach out to our shut-ins, to visit them and to let them know they are not forgotten. 

Prayer Time On The Great Wall

One year I was with a group in China visiting the Great Wall. The weather was beautiful that day and there was a huge crowd of people (mostly Chinese) walking and climbing the many steps on the Wall. A lady in our group was standing beside me as we were just taking in the sights -- the Wall and all the people there. This lady asked that as we were standing there that I say a prayer for China and the Chinese people. On the Wall there in China as people were walking past us this lady and I had a special prayer time, talking to God. God has given each one of us an extraordinary means to communicate with Him. We don’t have to be in a special place or assume any special position to approach God in prayer. The Bible gives us examples of people praying in different places. Without a doubt the most unusual place where anyone prayed was Jonah -- in the belly of a great fish. We also read of Paul and Silas praying and singing while they were in prison (Acts 16:25), Peter praying on a roof (Acts 10:9), Nehemiah prayed in the presence of King Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:4), Daniel prayed in an upstairs room with the windows opened toward Jerusalem (Daniel 6:10). Jesus, our perfect model in all things, prayed on a mountain (Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12), in front of a tomb (John 11:41,42) and in a garden (Matthew 26:36-56). Actually, I can’t think of any place where we can’t pray. In 1962 a ruling by the Supreme Court prohibited state-sanctioned or mandatory prayer in public schools. Since that time I’ve heard people say, “They’ve taken prayer out of our schools.” I don’t think any government, any official, any court could ever remove prayer out of schools, the workplace or any other area. Students, teachers and support staff can still go to God in prayer anytime during the school day.  People at work, regardless of where they work, can take a few moments during their busy workday to say a prayer.  

I found a song that begins like this: “Anytime, anywhere I can pray. And Jehovah will hear what I say.” How true! Thanks be to our God and Father that He is always there to listen when we call on Him and we can call Him “anytime, anywhere.”  

Spring Festival

Of the many festivals in China the Spring Festival is the most popular. It starts with the Lunar New Year and takes place late January or early February. This year the Lunar New Year will begin on January 28th. The festival lasts for two weeks and it is during this time that people travel back to their home town to celebrate with family. It is estimated that between 300 and 500 million people travel during this time. For many in China it is the only time of the year that they can all be together as a family. Each day of the Spring Festival is a special celebration. Meat filled dumplings are eaten during this time. The dumplings are a reminder that years ago meat was served just once a year -- during the Spring Festival. Angel, one of my friends in China told me that when she was a girl there was not as much too buy but now they have “yummy food on the feast and candies.” She also told me that the people there “never tire of spending many hours just preparing the feast.”  Rebekah, another friend told me that as a young girl she would look forward to Spring Festival because they would buy new clothes for the holiday. Lynn, my Chinese sister,  shared with me that Spring Festival is not only a time to be with family but also a time to visit with friends. The Spring Festival has many rich traditions. According to one of these traditions a monster would visit villages this time of year. The monster’s name was Nian (which just happens to be the Chinese word for year). Nian would terrorize the villages until they discovered that it was afraid of the color red and loud noise. So today people place red posters on their doors and set off fireworks during the Spring Festival. Angel told me that she doesn’t like the firecrackers. She wrote that, “they are so noisy and it makes the air more worse.”

My Christian brothers and sisters in China told me that during the Spring Festival they witness and share the Gospel Message with their families. Rebekah told me that when she is with her family she tells Bible stories to her nieces. Please pray for those traveling during this holiday and also pray that they will bring their families to Christ.        

Weiji - Crisis

Since my first trip to China in 2001 I’ve been studying the Chinese language (Zhongwen) and after all that time I still feel like a beginner. During that first trip a Chinese friend told me that I may be able to speak Chinese but as to reading and writing the characters -- forget it! I read that on the average a person would have to know three thousand characters just to get by on a daily basis - reading a book or newspaper for example. Even with that warning from my friend I still enjoy studying the Chinese characters. The Chinese word for crisis is weiji, two characters (wei and ji). Wei means danger and ji means opportunity. Now we usually don’t associate danger with opportunity but sometimes in the face of danger we do have opportunities. One good example of this can be found in the 21st and 22nd chapters of Acts. In these chapters we read of Paul being arrested amid cries from the crowd to kill him. This was a crisis, Paul was in danger (wei). But, just before the soldiers took Paul away he asked and was granted permission to speak to the crowd. Chapter 22 records Paul’s message to the crowd. Even the face of danger (wei) Paul saw an opportunity (ji) to preach the Gospel.

Now, since “discovering” the word weiji I’ve read articles that stress that too much can be made about the meaning of weiji. However, I believe that sometimes, like Paul, we may find ourselves in a crisis that is very dangerous but at that same moment we have an opportunity. Recently I saw on the news about two young men who saved someone from a car wreck and after they rescued the driver the car caught fire.  Weiji! Danger and opportunity! 

Rebekah

In Philippians 1:3 we read these words, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” I’m reminded of this passage when I remember my brothers and sisters in China. They have and continue to be a blessing in my life. One of these sisters is Rebekah. Rebekah and her husband Silas live in Guilin. They have a house church and are reaching out, helping and encouraging the people in Guilin. In their house church they have a small inflatable pool which they use for baptisms. Their house church is small and sometimes Silas gets discouraged. He wants to bring more people to Christ. Rebekah has told me that many people in their city are ancestor worshippers and it is difficult to lead them to Christ. Guilin is located in the province of Guangxi and within this province forty per cent of the population practice ancestor worship while less than one per cent of the population are Christians. Rebekah continues to be optimistic and understands that she and Silas are sowing the seeds in Guilin. I’m sure Rebekah is aware of the passage in Galatians 6:9 but I shared it with her anyway -- “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Please remember Rebekah and Silas and their ministry in your prayers. They are changing lives in Guilin.

Prayer Time in Beijing

One of my friends in Beijing would host a small group meeting on Wednesdays. We would get together for Bible study, prayer and some delicious food and fellowship -- just like our small groups at Norway. When it came time for prayer requests each person would mention someone or a particular situation that needed prayer. I was told that I would pray for the request that the person to the right of me had mentioned and the person to my left would pray for my request and so this went around the circle. At the end of the requests I asked, “Who starts the prayer?” My friend smiled and said, “Brother, we all pray at the same time.” So in this group, and there were about ten of us, we all prayed at the same time -- everyone praying in Mandarin except me! It was an unusual experience but later I thought at any given moment of the day or night an unknown number of people from around the world are praying to God in all kinds of languages and He hears every single one.

John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” NIV

Reaching Out to Serve

One Sunday I was going with a friend to a house church in Beijing. After walking a few blocks, we got on the subway and rode for over thirty minutes. Getting off the subway, we walked a few more blocks until we came to an office building. The house church was located on the fifth floor of this building. One big conference room was used for the service. After the service my friend told me that this church was started with ten people but had grown to over a thousand members. I asked my friend if the authorities knew about this house (“underground”) church. My friend smiled and said, “Oh yes, they know about us. At the beginning of 2008 they were planning to shut us down but the earthquake happened (This was out in Sichuan Province) and members of our church raised money and some went out to help the victims. After that, the government just backed off.” What an amazing example of a church reaching out beyond it’s borders to help those in need! In some of his letters, the Apostle Paul writes of the need to help the poor in Jerusalem. Here at Norway we have the opportunity to reach out and serve. There are several mission projects listed on our website. Last month, a devastating flood affected the lives of friends here in West Virginia. This month, some of our family at Norway will be traveling to Roatan to serve the people in that country. The opportunities are limitless to help others. All we have to do is to look and get involved like that church in Beijing. 

Campus Ministry

One year, when I was in Beijing, one of my Chinese friends asked me for a favor. Two of her friends from Inner Mongolia were planning on being in Beijing for a couple days and they didn’t have a place to stay. She asked if they could stay with me.  My hotel room had two beds and a couch. I told my friend that it was no problem (mei wenti!) her friends could stay with me. Her friends were two young men who taught in a university in Inner Mongolia. For two days we just toured Beijing. The first thing my new friends wanted to find was a Starbucks. They told me that there wasn’t a Starbucks in their city. I was surprised that one of these young men was wearing a Kentucky t-shirt. What a small world! One day they asked me if I knew why the Great Wall was built. I answered, “I thought it was to keep the Mongols out.” These men (with Mongol blood) smiled and said “It didn’t work!” In addition to teaching in a university they have a campus ministry. One of them had a guitar and in the evening when we’d return to my room they would sing praise songs in their native tongue. They told me that they would bring students to Christ and then after graduation these students would return to their hometowns and start up house churches. I’m thankful I was given the opportunity to spend some time with these Christian brothers and hear about their life and their church in Inner Mongolia.

Jonah

People ask me what I like best about China and I always give them the same answer -- it’s the people. I have made many close friends during my visits. One is like a brother to me. His English name is Jonah. We met in Shenyang during the time I spent at the orphanage when Jonah was working for a relief organization. Jonah was terribly burned in an accident and after he was discharged from the hospital he wandered around the country in an attempt to understand why such a thing had happened to him. Jonah told me that it was during these travels that he met a Christian who led him to Christ. Jonah explained that the tragedy of being burnt worked out for his good. I now call Jonah “Di Di” which in Chinese means “younger brother.” One year, when I was in Beijing, Jonah came from Shenyang to visit me. We spent a few days in Beijing and then I went back to Shenyang with Jonah. While we were together Jonah asked for prayer that he would be able to find a wife. Jonah’s parents were pressuring him to find a mate. It wasn’t very long after I returned home that Jonah emailed me the good news that he was getting married. The next time I came to China I was able to visit Jonah, his wife Candy and their brand new baby girl. A few years later Jonah and Candy had another daughter. China, at that time, had a one child policy and I asked Jonah if he and Candy had gotten in trouble for having a second child. Jonah smiled and said, “No brother, Candy is Korean.” I learned that minorities are allowed to have more than one child. Jonah and Candy are leaders in their church. I’m always thankful for my brother Jonah and his family. They have been a blessing in my life.

China- Post 2

I always get a bad feeling when I lose something. I think this has happened to everyone. We will look and look until that item is found and when we do find it, we feel like celebrating. In the 15th chapter of Luke, Jesus tells three parables of things that were lost -- a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. In each one of these stories when the sheep, the coin, and the son were found there was rejoicing.

In Shenyang, we spent a week with the children at an orphanage. These children all had special needs. We were each assigned to a child. Everyday we would take the children on an outing and on the way back to the orphanage, we would stop at McDonalds. The children would all get a Happy Meal and before they’d start eating, they would first find out what kind of toy was in the Happy Meal -- just like children in this country! One day, after the children had been taken back to the orphanage and we had returned to our hotel we received a call -- one of the children was missing. The last time he was seen was at the McDonalds. This child was one that had been assigned to a worker at the orphanage. We were asked if we would help look for this child. We all met back at the McDonalds and each member of our group was paired up with someone from the orphanage.

We would go out in different directions and search for this lost child. After one hour, we would return to McDonalds and if the boy hadn’t been found, we’d go out again continuing to search. Before we started, we gathered in a circle standing on the sidewalk and prayed that God would lead us to this one little boy in a city of six million. I walked with a young girl by the name of Angel and during that hour we continued to pray that we would find the boy. After an hour, Angel and I returned to McDonalds.  When we were a block away, we saw members of our group and others celebrating. The boy had been found. He had walked to a nearby park. To this day, I still believe that it was through the divine intervention of God that this little boy was found.

China- Post 1

In 2001, I was given the opportunity to travel with a group to China. We were going on a short-term mission trip to visit an orphanage in Shenyang, which is located in the northeast part of the country, not too far from North Korea. We first arrived in Beijing and stayed there for two days. Our tour guide met us at the airport. She asked each of us where we were from. When I told her I was from West Virginia she started singing “Country Roads.” What a shock! I later learned that “Country Roads” is very popular in China.