Greetings from China

The 2014 China Presbyterian Heritage Discovery Trip of The Outreach Foundation continues our program of connecting American Presbyterians with the Church in China whose roots trace back to Presbyterian work in the 19th century. This year’s trip focuses on churches in Shandong Province, but we will visit significant ministries in Nanjing, in Jiangsu Province as well. Led by Outreach China Mission Specialist, Peter Lim, and Associate Director for Mission, Jeff Ritchie, the sojourners are from Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Another team from First Presbyterian Burlingame had to cancel at the last minute due to a family situation that affected all the Burlingame participants. We pray for God’s presence and comfort to surround the family of the Rev. Dr. Paul Watermulder as they celebrate the life of his father. The team from Shadyside is arriving in stages. Three elders, Art Gilkes, Ed Wood and Janet Wood, arrived in Beijing on October 24, a day before Peter Lim. They did some sightseeing, which continued with Peter’s arrival, but heavy smog lay like a gray blanket over the capital city. Not a good time for photos!  Jeff Ritchie, arrived on Saturday the 25th, and next week the Rev. and Mrs. Todd Leach, also from Shadyside, arrive. They will join the group when we visit Shandong Province next week.

Sunday morning the five of us visited Haidian Church, a large Protestant Church in a university district of Beijing. The church has four services. This one was packed with many young adults. Next to me in worship was one of those, a young Chinese woman who had an English Bible which she followed as the scriptures were read in Chinese. Fervent in her praise and welcoming in her greeting to me, she epitomized the emerging church in China that we find in our “Presbyterian Heritage Discovery” trips—young, increasingly educated, and inviting others to join them in discipleship to Jesus.

China Mission Specialist Peter Lim took notes during the sermon, which was based on John 17:12-17, and shared them with the group so that we could understand the message of the Rev. Wu, the senior pastor of Haidian. Afterwards, he came to us and spoke briefly with us before getting ready for the next service.

Our group left Haidian Church for the railway station. We boarded a 2:00 PM fast train for Nanjing. This non-stop trip lasted less than four hours and covered the 760 mile distance at the rate of over 180 miles per hour! This was a first for most of us. We were impressed.

Over supper in Nanjing, we reflected on the sermon, whose theme was “I have protected those whom you gave me (John 17:12). Two of us (including yours truly) are grateful for the protection we received when we were navigating an escalator with all our baggage and slipped at the end of the escalator. Thank God, we were not hurt, but it was an illustration of God’s providential care for which we continue to pray as we now begin two days of seeing the Church in Nanjing.

Blessings from the China Discovery Team