Hello from Ganluo, China! Our team is currently about five hours outside of Chengdu by train. We are working with the locals here to serve children in a public school and two Christian groups of children from the local community. As many of you already know, Chengdu is a giant city of over 14 million people. Ganluo, while not small by American standards, is much more rural and located in the mountains southwest of Chengdu.
This morning we drove up into the mountains to a school. I won’t describe the drive up into the mountains in too much detail because we have to make the same drive tomorrow and I don’t want to freak out our loved ones. I’ll just say that the sheer drop offs give an excellent view of the valleys below.
It’s difficult to describe the experience of the day. Because of government restrictions in China we were not able to talk about Jesus or the Bible at all in the school. We were there to love those kids, teach them some English, and hope that God would use our time to plant seeds that would lead to conversion later down the road. After the school we visited a Christian friend in the area and the small group of children that attend their church.
The kids in those groups were from the same area, lived in the same poverty, lived under the same government. But they couldn’t have been more different. The school kids took time to break through their reservations. Their teachers were distant and unengaged. But the church kids were in almost immediately, dancing and singing to our children’s ministry songs. The adults were loving and engaged, even coming in to play some of the games with the children.
I say all of that to share something God reminded me of today: In a country that has such a small population of Christians it can seem like we are coming in to be a new light in the darkness. But those kids and adults were different because there are faithful followers of Jesus already present loving their community well no matter the religious oppression of the government they live under. Those kids responded to us with joy because they have already experienced grace and kindness and know what it looks like no matter what language it speaks. We did not bring new light today, we added our light to one that God is already using and we loved every minute of it.
I ask you to join me in prayer for Amu, Ruby, Jamie and Jamie’s family. You don’t know them, but one day in Heaven we will all be honoring them for the way they loved God and loved those that God loves.