A visit to China
China is the most populous nation in the world and territorially the third largest. It has changed greatly since the drive for modernisation began under Deng Siow Ping in the 1970s. With a huge market of 1.3 billion people, it is well poised to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
From 6-19 September 2007 we visited the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Dalian, fellowshipping with believers and conducting Christian meetings there.
China’s mainstream churches are known as the Three Self Churches (self-propagating, self-supporting and self-ruling). They are largely managed by the state authorities. House churches, however, abound and account for 80% of China’s 100 million Christians.
Our first stop was Shanghai, a cosmopolitan city of 13 million. An economic diaspora has brought it 10,000 Singaporeans. We were well taken care of at the home of Yak Kin and Jenny, and thank God for a blessed time of fellowship.
About 20 gathered for Lord’s Day worship, when the Word was preached from Hebrews 13:1-18. Christian families from Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia came. Isaac Tang of Kulai Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC) led in worship and translated the message into Mandarin.
Besides seeing the sights of Shanghai we visited Hang Zhou, a beautiful city in the neighbouring Zhejiang province, and soaked in the beauty of the placid West Lake. We climbed the Da Hua Shan and savoured the delectable dishes of the Orient.
Beijing, the historic capital of China, is a thriving, throbbing metropolis of 16 million people living in 17,000 sq km. Here we saw the historic sites where ancient Chinese emperors once reigned supreme.
Our host Ronny Lee (Sharon BPC) graciously offered us his studio apartment at Sunshine 100, just five subway stops away from the city centre. In this comfortable apartment we held a Bible study with Ronny, Wee Meng and Christina (also of Sharon BPC).
The historic Forbidden City and Imperial Palace contained the magnificent residences of more than 20 notable emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, from the 15th century to the 20th .
The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 witnessed the persecution of foreign missionaries, when about 200 were killed. The last Qing emperor, Pu Yi, was imprisoned here from 1911-1925, when Dr Sun Yat Sen — the father of the modern Republic of China — ended the feudal dynastic system. (Dr Sun was a Christian and my family shares his surname.) Yuan Shi Kai became the first president of China, introducing a constitutional government.
The Mao Zedong Mausoleum is a memorial to a man who led the legendary long march in 1934 — over 4000 miles. He defeated General Chiang Kai Shek of the Kuo Ming Tang, who fled to Taiwan in the late 1940s.
Chairman Mao led the cultural revolution from 1966-76 and declared a People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949 at Tian An Men Square. We are reminded that no matter how powerful a man may be, he is still a depraved and fallen creature and powerless against death. Only Christ, our risen Redeemer and Saviour, is victorious over the grave, sin and hell.
We also visited one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — the famed and awesome Great Wall of China, begun by Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 221 BC. He was the first emperor of a unified China.
The wall — with its watchtowers, castles, passes and impregnable fortresses — snakes over 7000 km of rugged terrain and was built to ward off barbarians. The Great Wall was augmented over the next 2000 years, especially during the Ming dynasty and later notably by Qi Jiguang in 1567. We made a quick visit to Chang Ling, one of thirteen lavish Ming Emperors’ tombs.
Our final stop was with Yuen Kee and Audrey, who have been in Dalian for two and a half years. Dalian is a clean and green city in the province of Liao Ning. It is a relatively quiet, less crowded city of six million people.
Yuen Kee brought us to Dangong and its Yalu River, which separates North Korea and China. We took a mini river cruise that gave us a glimpse of North Korea.
A Bible study meeting (with eleven Singaporean adults and four children) searched the Word, and Sunday morning worship on 16 September was a God-honouring service with ten believers gathered to worship the living God.
The Lord’s Day afternoon was fruitfully spent in Yuen Kee and Audrey’s home sharing the gospel, from John 14:1-7 and Romans 5:1-7; 10:9-13. Ten contacts brought by our Singaporean friends were present. In the evening, we ministered to four postgraduate students on the subject of marriage and the family.
We had an interesting discussion on the concept of an ideal marriage and on typical problems encountered in 21st century postmodern Chinese homes. God, who created the world in six days (a concept totally new to them) can redeem us through Christ from our depravity and save both our souls and our homes. They listened intently and later took tracts and pamphlets.
We had the privilege of visiting a food manufacturing company started by Paul Tan, an impressive entrepreneur and zealous witness for Christ. His automated factory produces amazingly delicious and nutritious combat rations!
We also visited a Christian bookstore. There is a real need for reformed Chinese biblical resources to build up Chinese churches in the Reformed faith. Do pray for our Chinese brethren in the various cities as they witness for Christ and continue steadfast in the faith in a trying and hostile environment.
Jack and Angelina Sin
To be continued