Sharon’s China Adventure Part 2

t’s been a couple of days since I last wrote.  The jet lag is finally retreating and the smog is getting more dense.  Monday we spent the morning in conversation with the executive members of the China Christian Council.  Several of them have multiple roles.  One is the President of Nanjing Seminary, another is the Dean.  We were able to learn a great deal about the national church picture from them.  I was especially pleased to hear more about their social service/social justice ministries as that had not been included in our orientation materials.  It turns out that the church is engaged in healthcare, education, HIV/AIDS care, eldercare and much more.  I had to chuckle a bit as I listened to the UCC representatives speak about initiatives being undertaken in Canada.  I had not been aware of several programs and took time later in the day to get better informed about my own national church!  Part of our group went for lunch with some of the Canadian Consular staff assigned to Shanghai.  We travelled by bus to Suzhou in the late afternoon.  To our delight our hotel is a vast improvement over the Baron Hotel in Shanghai.  It is modern and clean and a welcome retreat at the end of another long day.  On Monday we visited Duchu Lake Christian Church.  Words cannot do justice to this facility.  It is a huge complex of sanctuary, chapels, administrative offices, classrooms and much, much more.  We took a tour then had a long conversation with the senior minister, Rev. He.  This congregation holds about 600 baptisms every year!!!!!!  Last year there were 200 at the Christmas service.  My jaw hit the floor when I heard that.  He measures participation in church activities by hundreds and thousands.  The numbers are staggering.  He also joked when we asked about the cost of the building—turns out the government built it and chose the design….and handed Rev. He the keys when it was done.  Imagine a church without financial pressures??  The other tidbit I want to share is about the church bathrooms.  Duchu Lake has opulently appointed restrooms.  The fixtures and lighting would be what you would expect in a fine hotel rather than a church.  The only surprise, ladies, is that the toilet was of the squatting variety.  This is not an unusual feature here but one I will not miss when I return home!Tomorrow we head for Nanjing.  They have changed the plans a bit and will be getting us there by bus instead of the train.  It’s about a four hour trip given the distance and the traffic.  We’ll be travelling by bullet train from Nanjing to Beijing on Saturday.Just a word about the smog today.  We never did see the sun all day.  The sky was overcast and gray and the air felt ‘thick’.  Most of us are keeping our breathing masks handy as we have been warned that the pollution reading in Beijing has reached a dangerous level even by their standards.Blessings to all.Sharon

Categories: General News, Sharon
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