The other day I quoted one of my home pastor's biblical paraphrase. Today, I will quote the Master Himself, Yesu Ji Du, or for my western readers, Jesus Christ. In Matthew 7:7-11 He says, "7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 馬 太 福 音 7:7-11
You see, I carry a back pack sized bag that has my bible, my notebook, and the songbooks that my friend Liu Wen Yan had typed up for me. As things turned out, did not need the songbooks. As we settled in, the church was already a good ways into the daily reading. Today's scripture was Mark 10 and 11. I looked at the white board to see which songs we would sing and to see which Psalms would be read but the usual information was not there.
I asked my friend what the writing was, but she could not make out the characters. So, we just kind of settled in. I did notice that there were no podiums on the stage and the lady leading the reading was doing so from a choir book stand down in front of the first pews. Something was definitely different today!
The reading done, a prayer was said, and then out comes a young boy and girl (my friend guessed they were in their mid-to-late twenties) and they started singing what was obviously not a traditional hymn. Well, the next thing you know, ol Jed's a millionaire-no, wait, just kidding and checking and to see if you were still reading. He he.
It was a pretty nice song and I heard Yesu Ji Du (耶稣基督) and Shangdi (上帝) Jesus Christ and God were mentioned many times over in this song and the rest of the songs sang on this morning. Must have 6 or 7 songs. By the second song, the boy and girl were joined on the stage by another half dozen young Chinese youth and before I knew it we were clapping, jumping and having hands in the air spirit filled time of worship.
We even did some SOS type movements. For those of you not connected with my home church, SOS stands for Signs of the Spirit and is a Sign Language worship set to music led by our very own awesome Julie Thompson. Wow! What was happening?!
Seems that we had a visiting choral group from the GongXiang Church from Suzhou, a nearby city that Zhangjiagang (my city) is attached to, kind of like a city-county relationship. They were really energized and they had the crowd energized as well. I could really feel the holy spirit moving. There were times I had so much joy I was move to tears. I did not interrupt my friend too much to ask questions as I could tell that she was really enjoying the worship and was singing right along ( we have a screen for the words, but, alas, not enough foreigners in my church to warrant English or Pinyin)
After a bit, they asked if there was any there for the first time, and about 10 raised their hand. They then asked if they would come forward so that they could be prayed for and given some information and most of them did go to the front. Afterward, we continued the praise and worship. Normally, during the conventional service the singing and reading of the Psalms takes about 20 minutes or so. We were well into 30 minutes of praise and worship. Seemed like nobody wanted to stop, but as vibrant as that is, we know we have to have the bringing of the Word!
And so we did the passages were from Isaiah 43:19, Genesis 37:1-4 and 7:10. He spoke mostly about Joseph and his dream. I know that he later went to where Joseph had success because the people near me flipped back to around the 39th chapter and they read some more and he spoke for a bit more.
Then we closed the service with some more spirit filled worship. As turns out, the small group leading the worship was just that, a small group. In the end the brought out the rest their worship team and I say it numbered around 30 people.
You know, this was all great, but that was not what I was praying for. But, wait, there is more. Today, the church was double packed, ( many from Suzhou attended today as well) so I waited around for the crowd to thin out before leaving (and I was hoping to talk to some of the group from Suzhou) As we waited, a Chinese lady approached and asked in very good English, "Where are you from?" I told her from Tennessee in the U.S and she told me she was from another city but was living and working in Zhangjiagang and was a member of the church. (Prayer answered: someone to be able to communicate with about the church).
As the lady and I spoke, some of the visiting choir members began filtering down and standing around, as well as this young guy who was standing behind me. So, some of the choir members started chatting and asking where I was from and so forth. I told them that I thought they had done a great job and could really feel God's presence. This made them happy and they told me about their church in Suzhou.
So, as we spoke we talked a lot "about" God. Well, you know me, I had to ask the question. I looked at the girl (all of their English was pretty good too) asked her, "How does one get into heaven?" Without hesitation she said "there is only one way!" "Oh", I said, " and just what way is that?" Ha ha, she gave the Jared Shelton answer (sorry another inside joke). Big smile on her face she said, "Jesus!" and then she quoted John 14:6:
6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.