Pam Bone, Director of LIVE Ministries, shares her reflections on her trip to China with a CCC mission team last October.
After 14 days in China and a few months back home to process and reflect, we were left with some distinct impressions and ways we feel called to pray.
I'll share my thoughts here; if anyone would like to learn more about what we saw or experienced, feel free to contact me or any of our other team members: Meghan Stewart, Mart Alberici, Nick Hope, Myong Hope, Phyllis Chappelle and Samuel Phillips.
In Chinese cities, where populations range from 3-30 million, the absence of nature had a profound impact on some of us. The simple blessing of seeing God in nature was absent.
In Romans 1, Paul tells us that God has shown us his attributes, and that his power and divine nature are clearly perceived in the things that have been made. Isaiah 55 says that the mountains and hills will burst into song before us and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow, and all this is for the Lord’s renown.
Our prayer is that God will reveal himself to the Chinese who live in these massive cities in ways that they will see His amazing attributes.
The House of Joy is a ministry that gives dignity to orphans, young and old, with special needs. In that culture, people with special needs are often rejected and discarded as people with no value. Besides feeding, grooming, clothing and just spending time with these special people, the ministry has made it a priority to take them out to a public park, where they dance and play games. Over time, they are changing the way the people of this community see and value those with special needs. Many people come and participate with them, even touching and hugging them.
Another observation was that people don’t seem to truly see each other. They do not look at each other as they walk about the city or ride on the buses. The impression was that just as they don’t see each other, they probably don’t feel seen by others, or by God, and that the overwhelming amount of sensory overload probably causes emotional shutdown.
There is significant value in the way that internationals do mission work there, primarily in the university system. All of the Chinese Christians that we met were introduced to Jesus while in college. It is great for students to be exposed to internationals as they see something different and ask questions.
In the same way, there is great value in the way that Chinese nationals use education to reach people. Many Chinese are seeking alternative education, as they are unhappy with the government system and are open to western teaching methods.
The private school that we connected with there has taken a stand to openly share the Biblical principles on which they are founded. They have suffered persecution by individuals and from the government, but have also experienced much fruit as many of the students, teachers and family members have decided to live for Jesus.
It was really exciting to be around believers in China, because they are not “lukewarm.” They are sold out for Jesus – the real deal! We left with a sense of hope, with one teammate likening China to Narnia, where “winter” is melting.
Specific Prayer Requests
What God Did in Us
By Allen Allnoch
Never discuss religion or politics in polite company,” goes the old saying. Whoever came up with that maxim could have added race to the list of taboos. All three topics are fertile ground for harsh words and hurt feelings.
But facing, rather than ignoring, the difficult issues can result in much good. Such was the case here at CCC, where a small but diverse group of members had the courage to launch an extended discussion about race relations.
Indeed, there were painful moments. But those conversations ultimately produced deeper, richer relationships, as well as the groundwork for an event that promises to impact not just one church body, but also the city and region that surround it.
On May 6-7 CCC will host Converge 2:14, a conference on unity in diversity in the Church. The idea is to “Converge” around the promises of Ephesians 2:14 – “For [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” – and lay a foundation for a Church that is “Separate No More,” the conference’s tagline.
Converge 2:14 features a lineup of influential voices on the topic, including Dr. John Perkins, Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Pastor Bryan Loritts and his father, Dr. Crawford Loritts, Dr. Korie Edwards and Dr. John Fuder. CCC Lead Pastor Keith Cowart also will speak, Executive Pastor Derrick Shields will serve as conference host, and worship leader Dewayne Creswell has assembled several teams from a variety of backgrounds and musical styles.
Throughout its nearly 20-year history, one of CCC’s core values has been “Unity in Diversity.” Cowart and Shields have preached sermon series on racial unity, and Shields, on several occasions, has led a class called “In Loving Color.”
One of those occasions was in fall of 2014, with the class reading and discussing a book edited by the younger Loritts, “Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” About 20 participants had “some great conversations, and some hard conversations,” Shields recalls. “As we continued to work through that book together, we got past the hard conversations and got to be good friends.”
During that process, the group learned of a conference on multi-ethnic churches, Kainos, that would take place in Memphis, Tennessee the following spring. Sixteen people from CCC attended and were encouraged by what they heard – so much that, Shields says, “we just couldn’t get away from the idea of creating something similar in Columbus. So the first call we made was to Bryan Loritts [who had spoken at Kainos], to see if he would even be able to come, and he said yes. We started contacting other speakers and they said yes, and it’s just continued on from there.”
Just as Converge 2:14 was born out of a series of conversations within CCC, Shields hopes it generates further dialogue on a larger scale.
“We want to get people talking to one another,” he says, “to get some practical ideas on how we, His church, can start to remove this dividing wall of hostility and minister to our communities.
“Since the Free Methodist Church is growing and making some headway in the South, I think this conference is timely for our denomination as well,” Shields adds. “The Free Methodist Church was born out of a belief that slavery wasn’t right, so it’s in our heritage as Free Methodists, this whole social issue of racial equality and unity.”
To learn more, visit converge214.org.
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