Monday, April 14, 2008, 8 p.m. local time, 8 a.m. ET
Our contact for the guiding project we are surveying finally arrived Sunday night. We met with her to discuss the possibilities, which seem good.
Today, we set out for the upper reaches of this village of 5,000. We purposely went to deliver the Gospel to Muslims and animists living here in the mountains of southwest China. We were able to share the Gospel at one home and the man of the house accepted Christ. We prayed with him, and gave praise to God. Afterward, he challenged us to bring more villagers to Christ so he would be able to practice the faith. The village is ruled by a despot who does not want Christianity here. There is much work to be done.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Our mission's motto "subject to change" has taken on new meaning on this trip. We arrived in a village we were scheduled to reach today, but instead of trekking in over a pass, we came by bus. A meeting we had scheduled — to discuss a project to work with the untrained guides who climb the 17,000-foot mountain looming over this village — didn't happen. It's now scheduled for Sunday. God has opened doors, but it isn't easy stepping through them. We are the only Christians here, surrounded by tree worshipers and Muslims, not the most welcoming feeling.
Friday, April 11, 2008, 8:30 p.m. local time, 8:30 a.m. ET
We changed plans again, delaying our half-day bus ride to a semi-remote mountain village until tomorrow. We went to visit a Buddhist temple on a hill at 11,200 feet overlooking the city we're visiting. We met a monk named Sanjie who gave us a tour. He told us his heart was heavy. We know the Answer to his problem. As we talked with him, Tsering had an opportunity to share the Gospel in Chinese. He said what we told him was interesting. Seeds were planted. After saying goodbye, we went behind the temple and prayed for Sanjie and all the mission work going on here. May the burden of heavy hearts felt by so many in China be lifted by Christ our Lord.
Thursday, April 10, 2008, 8:15 p.m. local time, 8:15 a.m. ET
Altitude (or the evil one) forced us to retreat back down to 10,000 feet. No horseman this time; just three guys hoofing it with 50-lb. packpacks. All part of God's plan, we presume. Our horseman from yesterday, a Buddhist, gave us a minivan ride back to the city where we'd left some gear with friends. We ate great Tibetan food and made new plans to travel bybus tomorrow to another town where we will continue to explore the potential of a climbing project here. All is well. God is in control.
Wednesday, April 9, 7 p.m. local time, 7 a.m. ET
We were driven by our other friend to a small, remote village, where we hired a local horseman to carry two of our backpacks. We set out from 10,200 feet at about 2 p.m., hiking the approach to a popular 17,000-foot mountain here in China. We climbed up to 12,000 feet in three hours despite really feeling the altitude (two of us were at 1,000 feet less than 18 hours ago). We established camp and will be praying about what direction God wants us to take with the rest of this trek. There are several options, but only one Way.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 9:30 a.m. local time / Tue., April 8, 9:30 p.m. ET
We just finished our 13-hour ride on a 28-bed sleeper bus. We're visiting friends and we'll be driving to another village to begin our trek.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 6 p.m. local time, 6 a.m. ET
We flew to another part of China this morning and were met at the airport by Tsering. We are a three-person team now. We did a gear sort and packed for our time in the mountains. We are leaving shortly on a sleeper bus to get to the village where we will begin what could be a 10-day trek. God has gone before us to prepare the way. We are His humbled followers.
Monday, April 7, 7:30 p.m. local time, 7:30 a.m. ET
Walking the Great Wall of China.
We were driven about 2½ hours outside of Beijing to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. We hiked about 5 miles in 3 hours to the Simati section of the steep and rugged wall. This was our warm-up for some trekking that we will be doing in another part of China this week and next.
Sunday, April 6, 2008, 7:30 p.m. local time, 7:30 a.m. ET
For 500 years (during China's Ming and Qing dynasties) the Forbidden City was off limits by penalty of death to the general population. Now it is a tourist destination. The emperor of China was considered the “son of heaven.” Over the emperor's throne in the Hall of Middle Harmony is a sign in Chinese that reads: “The way of heaven is profound and mysterious and the way of mankind is difficult.” All of China's emperors have gone to their eternal rewards, leaving behind a Communist country that embraces tourism enough to sell US $10 tickets to thousands upon thousands of visitors to the Forbidden City each day.
After a stroll around Tiananmen Square we wandered to a sporting goods store that sat near the Wang Fu Jing Catholic Church (also known as St. Joseph's Church and the East Cathedral). St. Joseph's is one of the four principal churches in Beijing. It is a state-sanctioned Catholic church, meaning it is legal to worship there. St. Joseph's was closed by the Cultural Revolution from 1964-1980. Mao wanted the building leveled, but it was used as a warehouse. Now 200-300 Catholics worship there. An estimated 10 million Catholics attend state churches in China. Reportedly, there are 20 million Catholics and 70 million Protestants in China's church. But there is no telling how many Christians worship in church houses, which are outside of government control.
As we approached St. Joseph's a man said, “Come with me.” He took us behind the church. The man was a teacher for the church. We talked and when he learned we'd just purchased ping pong paddles at the sporting goods store, he took us inside to play table tennis. It was a divine appointment and provided a great lesson from one who has mastered China's national game. The spiritual void that exists in this country may one day be filled with our Master — the true Son of Heaven — Jesus Christ.