Two Days With the Pastors in Dalian

post date: November 1, 2011

Teaching the pastors in the apartment.
Tuesday Afternoon
Dalian, China

For the last two days Mark and I have been speaking at a pastor’s conference in Dalian, China. To put the matter that way probably makes people think of hundreds of pastors gathered in a large church sanctuary, with bright lights, a worship team, and high-powered services.

That might happen in America.

But we are in China where pastors must meet discreetly. Even though the church here is growing explosively, large gatherings are frowned upon by the government. Especially large gatherings of the house church movement (sometimes called the “underground” church to distinguish it from the registered or Three-Self church).

So we are meeting in an apartment in Dalian, the “we” being about 20 people. Some pastors are local. Others have come a long distance. One man came from Urumqi in far-western China. Another man came who started a movement that now includes 100,000 believers. 

This morning they came to the apartment at 6:30 AM for the EMS: Early Morning Service. After worship and prayer, I spoke for a few minutes from Luke 12:16-21. They prayed some more. Then breakfast—Long strips of fresh Chinese bread along with sweet soy milk, hard-boiled eggs, and sliced cucumbers. Pretty healthy, I think. 

Then Peter came up to Mark and me and asked, “Who is going to preach first?” I said, “I’ll go first.” That was the first news Mark had that he was speaking this morning.

We started with 30 minutes of worship at 9 AM, then prayer, then I spoke for an hour on “Don’t You See Yet?” from Mark 8:22-26. Yesterday morning I gave the longest sermon of my life–an hour and a half on “How God Grows Leaders Through Unjust Criticism” so this morning’s message was short by comparison. Then a break, more music, and Mark spoke on Jeremiah 20. We ate lunch in the apartment. Most folks had Chinese food. Yesterday Peter brought me a Big Mac. Today it was KFC. The pastors are taking naps now. We’ll start again at 2 PM with more worship and prayer, then the pastors will share. After that, Peter said we’ll see what we need to do. Maybe another message.

That’s China: Expect the unexpected. 

We’ve ended up spending two full days with the pastors in very close quarters. I actually like it because we’re really getting to know each other. And we’re discovering that though we are separated by language and to some extent by culture, the things that unite us in Christ are far greater than the things that divide us. 

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