Returning from the East - UpWords - July 12

Returning from the East
by Max Lucado

Somewhere Oswald Chambers wrote: “Christians must occasionally travel under sealed orders.” Such was the case for a group of us who traveled to China in August. Though we think we know the purpose of the trip, I’m confident that the real orders were seen only by spiritual forces.

Our groups consisted of ministers, representatives of two Christian colleges, a representative of Focus on the Family, a publishing delegate, a lawyer, and John Bentley, the trip facilitator and director of an orphanage in China. Our goal was simple: extend the hand of Christian friendship to high-ranking government officials in China. By his grace we were granted audiences with

- The China Social Service Commission
- The State Department
- The Department of Religion
- The Communist Party Department of International Understanding

Each meeting lasted 45 minutes to an hour. The first three meetings began with prepared speeches from the official explaining China's position on a variety of matters, but especially religion. The meetings were gracious and hospitable. In each case, our message to them was simple and identical...we extend the hand of goodwill and hope that we can enhance our relationship. We told them that we come more in the name of Jesus than in the name of a country and would like the chance to display the love of Christ through good works in China. 

It was no small moment when one of the communist leaders made the statement: “We receive you as ambassadors of the love of Jesus.”

Let me also mention how cooperative the US Embassy has been. Thanks to their intervention, the meetings we feared had fallen through were held. They hosted our delegation at the embassy and encouraged us to keep up this mission.

I learned so much about the work of God in China:

- Estimates as high as 100 million Christians. 

- Persecution in many cases is lessening as the country becomes more open in its understanding. It’s no longer necessary to smuggle Bibles; indeed we visited a Christian book store near the university district of Beijing.

- While the country is known for its Communist regime or exploding economy, fastest in the history of the world, it should be known for its delightful people. The people are so quick to smile and happy to serve. They are, indeed, a special nation… worthy of every effort to tell them about Christ.

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