Friday, March 6, 2009
The man endured the cold, sat forlornly on a bench and dozed off in the morning. It was winter in Shanghai and passers-by hurried off to work. I noticed that no one bothered to stop to find out what happened to him. Did he have a family? Was he out in the street to beg? Why was he dozing off so early in the morning? There are hardly any beggars in Shanghai.
I stopped and wanted to chat with him. The group I was with was moving very fast in front of me. They were heading off to the headquarter of Three Self Patriotic Church. My colleagues were calling me to keep pace with them. I knew that if I lingered on, I would have lost sight of the group. Reluctantly I moved on and took a picture of this lonely old man. I could not even see his face as it was covered.
When I was in Shanghai 14 years ago, during those days the streets were teeming with cyclists wearing Mao’s style of dress – drab navy blue dress. Gone were the cyclists and the communist dressing. Now I could not tell the difference between Shanghai and other modern cities in the world. I thought I was in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.
Shanghai is modern and sophisticated. High-rise buildings dotted the skyline. Women adorn fashionable dresses rivaling that of Paris cat walking with elegance. I was told that Shanghai is an expensive place to live. That old man was a rare sight.
When we reached the headquarter of the Three Self Church, we were warmly received by the host. The president was a young man who spoke English fluently. Later I found out that he had his theological degree from a seminary in America. Three years ago, I was visiting the same place and the president was an elderly man who needed an interpreter to communicate with us. What a change. English is more widely spoken in China these days. Some of them are well versed in English. I shudder to think what might happen to China when the majority of its citizens are conversant in English. One does not anymore need to learn Putonghua (Mandarin) in order to do business with the Chinese. Some of them speak better English than the Malaysian students.
The Bible Press had printed and sold 60 million copies of Bibles. There are just simply not enough Bibles in China. The hearts of the Chinese hunger for the living word of God. The Cultural Revolution that took place 40 over years ago had left a huge moral and spiritual vacuum in the nation. Christianity is growing so rapidly that there are not enough pastors, seminarians to train the people.
Our mind was overloaded with information from the Three Self representatives. Every one was eager to ask questions. We wanted to reach China for Jesus. But I think sometime God just wants us to reach one person at a time. I thought of the lonely old man.