Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.
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When we arrived at 5:45 PM we saw large groups of students streaming into the center. As you can see from the pictures, virtually every seat in the auditorium was filled. We estimate that at least 450 students attended. That alone was a huge victory because events like this rarely take place. Peter Wang had purchased 300 copies of my book “The Wisdom of Solomon” to sell to the students for around $3 apiece. Before and after the event, students crowded around, asking me to sign the book.
The program was very simple. A very talented young woman named “Stream,” (that’s her English name) welcomed the students and explained the evening. Then I sat down to speak. I sat behind a desk while “Stream” stood at the podium to interpret my words. I had been somewhat nervous before the event began, but when I sat down, I felt great peace and no nerves at all. After started my talk, I suddenly veered off to talk about Solomon and his search for wisdom in life, comparing him to Jesus who said, “What will it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” That was completely unplanned by me. The students listened very intently. On and on I went, coming back to my notes and then back to Jesus and Solomon. I ended by saying that true wisdom is always personal, and if we want to know the truth, we need to know the One who said, “I am the Truth.” I then encouraged them to “come and see” for themselves and to pray a simple prayer that had helped me come to Christ: “Jesus, if you are real, come into my heart.” I did not give an invitation per se but encouraged them to seek the truth about Jesus.
Then we took questions. That was amazing. The students stood and asked very intelligent questions. It went on longer than we had planned. One young man made a statement welcoming me to China and saying, “Even though many in China do not agree with you, we must respect your views.” He then quoted the Olympic phrase, “One World. One Dream,” and made other comments that drew chuckles from the crowd. I felt totally at ease while he talked. I thanked him and said I agreed that we must respect each other and hear each other out and thanked him for coming. On and on it went. The questions were deep and probing, telling me that the students had listened carefully to my talk.
When we dismissed the crowd, hundreds came up to buy the books and have them autographed. The Christians in the crowd (and there were many) were ecstatic. They had never seen anything like this in Dalian before. Peter told me later that he was glad I was so bold. Yet I didn’t feel bold while I was speaking. He said I was the first speaker at such an event to openly mention the name of Jesus. Other speakers would say, “Someone has said,” but I mentioned Jesus the way you would mention any great person’s name. Peter felt the Holy Spirit had been at work in a powerful way.
Would you like to receive Ray Pritchard’s blog entries by email?Today we got a report from the student leaders regarding the feedback forms. Around 130 forms were turned in with over 90% positive response to the event.
The world that Christians in China live in is so different from our world in the West. They face challenges to their faith every day. We didn’t know until the last minute if the Sunday night event would happen. But God gave a great victory thanks to the prayers of so many people.
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