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    Soul Rythem

    Finding a Christian church in Beijing

    We spent Sunday morning in Beijing surrounded by people who shared with us a common faith and common language. The message in hands raised in praise and words uttered in song was refreshingly familiar.

    “I will worship with all of my heart,” the praise team began singing at the start of the service. “I will give you all of my worship. I will give you all my praise.”

    The service at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship (BICF) wasn’t like the rousing morning worship at home. As my daughter said: “It wasn’t Baptist, but it was something.” (In photo above, from left, Yvonne stands with her sister Margaret and her pastor Rev. Cynthia.)

    It was quite something – a gathering of believers in a country where church life is controlled by the government. It was evidence of the continued growth of Christianity in China, amid Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Islam.

    Hundreds of people from many nations filled the large auditorium at the 21st Century Hotel, which serves as home to many of BICF’s 18 congregations. People from more than 70 nations attend the international, non-denominational church, which began in 1981 and now holds services in nine languages in three different locations.  

    Since we arrived in Beijing last week to settle my daughter in for a semester abroad, Cynthia had talked about finding a church to attend. We talked briefly about what it would be like to walk into a Chinese church, if there were one close by. Would our presence disrupt the service? Would government officials watch us after the service because we are foreign Christians? 

    On Saturday night, Cynthia searched the Internet for Christian churches in Beijing, and found several that catered to English speakers and persons holding foreign passports.   

    We took a taxi Sunday from our hotel to the BICF for the 11:30 a.m. service. We showed our passports to enter and found seats in the auditorium. It was like being in a large multiethnic church at home.

    Communion was served early in the service, followed by announcements and an offering. The minister, an American who used to live in Oregon, sat on a tall stool and talked about the importance of using your gifts and abilities as ministers of God to help in the work of the church.

    It was a message that I had heard many times before some 6,000 miles away. And like before, it challenged me once again to examine myself to see if I have fully surrendered my gifts to God. It was good to hear the same Word of God preached here that is preached at home, and to sing with believers from around the world, “Jesus, Jesus, I love you.”

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