1 June 2020
A Moment to Reflect -30
Almost three years ago, on an official visit to China, I attended a service of worship in Beishi Christian Church in the city of Shenyang. (Shenyang is in the North East province of Liaoning, just north of the North Korean border.)
The pastor of the church is a woman called Ho Heung.
The church had been founded around 1909 but, like most other churches in China, it had been closed in the 1960’s during the ‘Cultural Revolution.’
It reopened in 1982 with just 25 members. Now it has around 3000.
Each week over 2000 adults and 300 children participate in one of the three services that take place every Sunday.
How could this happen in a country where Churches are not allowed to advertise, and Christians are not allowed to proselytise?
After the service we asked Pastor Ho what the ‘secret’ of this astonishing church growth was. Her answer was profoundly simple.
We love God—we love the people
People come to church because they are grateful for what God has done for them. They recognise that their faith is a gift from God and want to give thanks.
(So, the worship is really sincere—you can feel it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the language.)
This gratitude that is at the heart of the worship also spills over into generous loving action. The Christians in Shenyang genuinely want to care for their neighbours and help those in need. And so they do.
And other people notice. They become curious and ask what it is that makes these Christian people act as they do.
They go along to the church to find out for themselves.
Authentic Worship and Genuine Loving Action. It always was as simple as that.
How have we managed to make it so complicated?
It reminds me of the words of Charles Dickens:
“Remember!—It is Christianity to do good always-—even to those who do evil to us. It is Christianity to love our neighbours as ourself, and to do to all men as we would have them do to us. It is Christianity to be gentle, merciful and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts, and never make a boast of them or of our prayers or of our love of God, but always to show that we love Him by humbly trying to do right in everything. If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in peace.”
― Charles Dickens