Monday, November 30th
Early morning today we gathered our things, repacked our bags, and checked out of the Baron Business Hotel in Shanghai. It seems like we just landed and yet at the same time we have already experienced so much hospitality. After breakfast and checking out, we were off to an official meeting with some of the leadership of the China Christian Council/Three Self Patriotic Movement where we were once again warmly welcomed and invited into a time sharing each other’s stories. This Included sharing the ourney toward right relations with indigenous peoples within our own United Church.
Our meeting this morning was incredibly informative. It really helped to open our eyes to some of the blessings of the Chinese church, along with some of the challenges. Some of the blessings of our partners included stories of rapid growth and increasing self sufficiency, but the legacy of colonialism still lingers and proves challenging. One of the Chinese leaders that spoke was Rev. Xu Xiaohong, General Secretary of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China. Rev. Xu shared about the need to for “theological reconstruction”, that is, Chinese theological thinking that is authentically “rooted in the soil of China”. It was interesting to hear how Christianity in China is still presumed by many Chinese to be western in origin and legacy. It is only by recognizing these assumptions that they may be finally shed, giving space for an authentic Chinese Christianity to take root.
I think it is extremely important for us to hear these stories, so that we can acknowledge the theological wounds inflicted by the west. It is unfortunate to hear how things like cultural assumptions coupled with translational choices and errors can have such a lasting and painful legacy. But in these acknowledgements we must also see, and even testify, to the strength and perseverance of the Chinese church to overcome those wounds. It truly speaks to the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome obstacles and whatever wounds exist, perseverance and a continued invitation to partnership are alive and well. We are indeed blessed by God to have been invited once more to participate in that partnership, but for now it is time to climb aboard the bus and continue on to Suzhou. Traveling mercies and thanks be to God.