Thursday, July 2: Beauty In Nature and in God's House
by Rob Weingartner
Before departing by train for the journey from Hangzhou to Shanghai, we made visits to two beautiful places, West Lake and Chongyi Church.
West Lake is surrounded on three sides by hills and by the city on the fourth and is a popular place for outings and excursions, boats plying their way across the water. We boated to the largest island on the lake which is a beautiful garden-type setting with bridges, porches, paths through bamboo forests, water lilies and koi. For a short while we found a welcome silence. As we left the island and returned to shore, Brandon lead us in our devotions.
Senior Pastor Joseph Gu welcomed us to Chongyi Christian Church, the largest congregation we have visited. With an average Sunday attendance of 9,000, the sanctuary seats 6,500. There are five pastors, five teachers and three administrators – who undergird and equip 1,900 volunteers who actively carry out the ministries of the congregation. They rent space from a neighboring office building on Sundays to accommodate the growing Sunday school program with over 700 students.
We heard about two new projects that they have recently undertaken – a prayer ministry that ensures that someone is praying for the congregation and its mission at all times, and construction of an underground parking garage. The three crosses featured on and inside the church, which was dedicated in 2005, highlight the movement of the Christian life: red (salvation), white (sanctification) and gold (glorification).
This year, the Chongyi Church expects to celebrate the baptisms of 800 new believers. God is at work in China in amazing ways, and we are glad to be here, meeting many of those whom God is using, Glory be to God!
Grace and Peace,
Rob for the Team