I recently had the privilege to sit down with my good friend, Emily who graciously agreed to be interviewed by me and share some of her recent missions experiences with you− the With True Hope readers! Enjoy…
So Emily, you had the opportunity to travel abroad recently. Where did you go?
“The Lord allowed me to visit Beijing and Ji Xian, in China. Ji Xian is about halfway between Beijing and the coast of the Pacific Ocean on the Eastern side of China.”
Could you describe your initial thoughts or reaction when you arrived in China?
“My very first thought was “I’m not in Kansas anymore.” As we were sitting on the plane that first night we arrived, there came a special announcement about how they were going to spray down the interior of the plane before they allowed us to disembark. This would take care of any germs we were bringing with us, apparently. Nothing like that has ever happened to me flying in the States before, so yes, Kansas was far behind. When we stepped off the plane, I saw uniforms. Not a lot. But they were there, and it made me a little concerned. Did they know about the Bible in my backpack? But they were quick to smile and seemed friendly. That helped.
My first real impression of China itself came with the daylight. Wherever you are, whether the grocery store, the street, the subway, the bus, or even just traffic, there is no such thing as personal space. What was great, though, is that you didn’t feel that anyone was being rude. They didn’t just shove into you. They saw you, they smiled, and you felt acknowledged. It wasn’t a mass of humanity that just swallowed you up. You feel connected.”
What would you term as the most interesting thing that you ate while in China?
“Or did not eat (laugh)! The food was really, really good! The way that they serve meals is different. The tables are round with a raised lazy Susan in the center of the table that the food is placed on. And they don’t serve the food all at one shot or in ordered courses, but they keep on bringing fresh and new dishes. In China, you don’t put all your food onto your plate either. You just eat bites at a time, making sure that you aren’t spinning the table for a dish while someone else is eating from another dish!
There were a lot of veggie, and especially mushroom, dishes. I ate a scorpion which tasted salty, a frog which tasted very spicy, and “fried milk” (a twinkie-like, cream or pudding filled donut) which was great! The only thing I couldn’t eat was chickens feet whether they were pickled or raw in the market, they were just not appealing.”
What were some of your favorite that places you visited?
“The homes! Whether it was one of the most humble or affluent homes, the hosts were overwhelmingly generous. They each served with their best! And the church! It was like Christmas morning every time I went- the level of joy cannot be described. Most of the church members seemed to come without the rest of their families, whether because they had come into Beijing from the outlying provinces to work, or because their family members weren’t saved, but they considered the church to be “home”. These believers are family to each other!
I also went to the Dragon Gorge, which is a pretty neat river in an immense cannon. It was in one of the most primitive areas that I visited. Cold, cold green water, massive stone walls with Chinese characters carved in red on their sides, sharp peaks, and sunlight streaming down everywhere. It was incredible.”
You mentioned in a previous conversation that beyond the place, the people were the best part of your trip. If you could sum up your experiences with the people in three words, what would those words be? Feel free to expound.
“That’s a hard one! “Indescribable”…is that cheating (laugh)? Okay.
Humbling because the Christians there live Christ. They love the Lord so much that their lives become a living Gospel. It is their life. Their love is overflowing.
Joyful because when Christ is the center and you are where you are supposed to be, there is nothing but joy! You don’t want to be anywhere else. It reminded me of the movie Chariots of Fire, when missionary Eric Liddell told his sister that when he ran, he could feel God’s pleasure. God is pleased when we follow Him and are in the center of His will.
Belonging because not only did I know that I belong to the Lord and was in His will, but the people loved me too. Before I got there, the people told me that they were praying for me and loving me. And when I was there, they were praying for me and loving me even more!”
Is there a particular song or Scripture that has gained new meaning as a result of your experiences in Beijing and Ji Xian?
“There’s an old hymn, “Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace/Over all victorious, in its bright increase… Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest/Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest”. This song was with me the whole time, and I haven’t quit singing it since I got home! Also, the reality of Psalm 138:8 -which I’ve shared with you before- hit me on the last day. “The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” I’m excited about what God has in store! I was in the airport, ready to depart, and had a moment of extreme doubt. Had everything I had felt and learned been only emotion? Was God really working in me? Had He really spoken to me? And then I knew God was right next to me! The Bible says that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. It says He is faithful to complete the work which He starts in us. I believe that. The moment was pretty special. I now know these verses better. They meant a lot to me before, but God answered my prayers! This trip was the culmination of everything that I had been bringing before the Lord.”
What would you say is your ‘most memorable memory’?
“Can I have two? My most memorable is definitely singing hymns on the bus in Chinese! I love music, I love to sing. It was one way to sit next to someone who didn’t speak the same language, yet be singing the same song and worshiping the same God!
My other memory was of the Chinese young people. They are raised in Communism, which teaches them that they have no intrinsic value as an individual. No worth apart from the collective. But Jesus loves them each so very, very much! They struggle with depression and purposelessness often, but the Gospel has changed so many of their lives. This is only one of many needs there, but it is the one that struck deepest into my heart.”
“The Chinese church prays for us every day! They are prayer warriors for us and our churches a lot more than we are for them. Please, please remember them and their churches in your prayers!”
On behalf of the True Hope Ministry team and the With True Hope readers: “Thanks a million Emily for sharing your trip with us; may God bless you, as you have been a true blessing to us!”