Yesterday was Sunday and our big event for the day, actually, our only event for the day was to go to church. I'm not sure we've ever been more excited to go to a church that wasn't our own. We've felt very alone here as hardly anyone speaks English and we attract a lot of attention and stares b/c of Hope. More about that tomorrow. We were given a name by someone from our church of a young Brazilian-Korean lady who was in Beijing for this weekend. She told us about a church here called Bejing Christian International Fellowship. We took a taxi to the hotel where the church meets and met her there. By the way, our adoption translator/guide has been out of town since Wednesday so Andy and I have literally been on our own. We think we're both pretty big deals now that we can navigate around Beijing by ourselves. For two mid-western folks, we're doing pretty well here.
Anyway, the church is a registered Christian church in Beijing. We think it is only one of a handful of churches allowed in Beijing. We have read a lot about the persecution of Christians in China so we were a bit perplexed as to why this church is even allowed to exist. Here's what we found out. The only way to even enter the church (which rents space in a large hotel) is to show your passport. Basically, the church is for internationals and Chinese people who are in Beijing for school, business, etc. It is not a church that your average Chinese national can go to b/c your average Chinese person doesn't have a passport. So it isn't your typical "local church." It's filled with students and people who are, for one reason or another, here in Beijing temporarily.
We asked why the "underground Christian church" isn't allowed to be registered with the government. The lady (a member of the church for about 15 years) said that to be registered you have to comply with whatever the government tells you to do. A lot of times they just refuse to register the church. Sometimes they require things like having the pastor turn in his sermon a week before he preaches it and denying the right to preach/teach about certain Christian beliefs (Jesus' second coming, etc). Basically, they require things that a Bible believing church could not agree to do. However, this church wasn't required to do any of those things. Andy and I were under the impression that the church we attended was allowed to exist b/c it isn't a local congregation. And by requiring passports to enter the facility, the government maintains control of who is there and who isn't.
As far as what the church service was like, it was casual, held in an auditorium, and had the feel of an old Campus Crusade for Christ meeting at IU in the mid 1990's. In other words, a few songs with guitar or two, a short devotional/message, a hokey object lesson/demonstration about the church's mission statement and a closing song all in less than an hour. It was certainly not what we expected. We expected more of a of Chinese/local congregation and more involved/deeper Bible teaching. Either way, it was good to worship together. It makes us look forward to being at home even more though.
Other than that, the day kind of got lost into a hotel-walk-eat-walk blur.
And that was day 8. And to prove how incredibly uneventful it was, I only have one picture from the whole day. Shocker. I know. And it's blurry. Kind of how the day felt after about 10:30am.