My excitement in coming to Beijing was the ability to meet the Rev. yu Xinli. Rev. Yu is Vice-Chairman of the National TSPM, President of the Beijing Christian Council, amid Consultant to the Yanjing Theological Seminary. He is the only clergy person in Beijing who served the church before and after the Cultural Revolution.
At 73, Rev. Yu remembers the state of the church before the Cultural Revolution. There were four churches in Beijing. In the case of his church, the members were all related to the three clergy serving there. Here we are with Rev. Yu at his office, which is housed in the original Bible Society Office.
At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, he was sent to a farm far away from Beijing where he worked for 22 years. At the end of the Cultural Revolution he came back to Beijing, and when the government began to relax on issues regarding religion, CCC and TSPM began to grow. Currently there are 21 Churches in Beijing, with 800 meeting points -- meaning that there are over 800 other places people are worshipping, from storefronts to homes, but these meeting points are connected to one of the churches.
There are currently 100 clergy serving in Beijing, 60% of which are women. Women also outnumber men in Yanjing Seminary, which is a regional seminary in Beijing. There are currently 100 students enrolled in the 4 year seminary program, and they expect to graduate 30 new pastors this year.
When I asked Rev. Yu how he feels about this incredible growth he shared, tearily, that it is a dream come true, a prayer answered. He shared that when he was working doing back breaking work on the farm, he felt God's love surround him.
I asked him what he attributes the incredible growth in the number of Christians in Beijing. He shared that the Cultural Revolution brought chaos into people's lives. They are looking for stability, for something to hold onto. the Gospel brings them that message of hope, and Jesus offers stability.
I also asked him what we could/should be doing in Los Angeles to welcome people from mainland China into our congregations. He said they are going to feel lost in America. Helping them navigate the waters of living in a new land, offering stability in a community of faith, and offering them the words of Jesus will be of great help.
As we left I took these pictures of the front of the building. It was used as a church during the Cultural Revolution to take care of the religious needs of foreigners. The then US Ambassador, the Senior George Bush and his family worshipped there every Sunday, and I was told His daughter was baptized there. Here are some pictures of the building:
Here (I hope!) are pictures of our exchange of gifts:
I will never forget Rev. Yu's story, his kindness, and the deep faith that kept him going for the 22 years he was removed from the Churchhe loves.
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