I was praying about it this morning, and the Lord brought back a most incredible memory to me from my last visit.
If you have studied or read what is going on in the church in China, then you know that there are what are called "house churches." These are churches that meet in homes, not at the state-sanctioned churches. I cannot tell you what it is like to sit in a house church and be among those who are so on fire for the Lord. They are risking so much. (If you have not read Safely Home by Randy Alcorn, I encourage you to. Tears welled up in my eyes just now thinking about it!)
We were privileged to attend such a church, and to speak and minister to some of its members. I cannot remember how it came to be that I was at the house by myself that day, but I was. During our stay in the city, (and by God's grace!) I became more adept at taking taxi's by myself (I could say the name of our hotel in Chinese!) and getting around a little bit. But the house where I was was tucked way back off of a road, and I was not sure how to get back to where I could get to the main area where I could wait for a taxi. The woman I had been meeting with was an English-speaker, but she needed to stay at the house with her children, so she asked a young man there in the house if he would walk me to the main road. He indicated to her (in Chinese, of course) that he would. He was a precious college-aged believer ("brother") and he smiled at me as I put my backpack on my shoulder to begin the half-mile trek through the winding village streets.
We walked for a bit in silence. He knew no English and I knew no Chinese. (Unless I wanted to tell him "hello" and the name of my hotel!) I did say something like "It is very warm today" while gesturing toward the sun and e-nun-ci-a-ting all of my consonants. (Why do I do that? That, and talking louder. Doesn't help.) He nodded and pointed to the sun as well. We kept walking in silence. The houses were right up to the narrow street, and the doors were open just feet from us. I could see inside the homes or smile and nod as people were coming in and out of their doorways. I felt such a kinship with this man after we had worshiped together and shared a meal, that it felt awkward to walk with him and not speak. I remember feeling that at that moment that if I would just OPEN my mouth, something Chinese would come out. Surely I could say something!
All of a sudden, something indescribable happened. The young man I was walking with, my precious Chinese brother, started singing "Amazing Grace." In English- the kind of English that you can tell is simply memory of the sounds, not the words (no doubt like my "Chinese" must sound). I immediately joined in. His face burst into a wide grin at me as we continued to sing:
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me...
I once was lost
But now I'm found
Was blind but now I see..."
We sang together as people coming in and out of their homes looked at us strangely. We continued to walk and sing. After that first verse, he continued to sing, but in Chinese, as I continued to sing in English. It was the most unforgettable sound- the same notes, same words, different languages. To the same God. The One True God.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed...
And on we walked. And on we sang. Verse after verse, all the way to the main road. The sound of our voices filled that tiny street. There in that village where you have to be so careful... where churches are tucked into places that must remain unnamed... we sang of the amazing grace that draws those formerly living in darkness to become a "brother" or a "sister" in a persecuted place. We sang of the same amazing grace that drew a suburban American housewife to China. We had completely different languages and backgrounds, but that same saving grace is what drew us together. It draws us together before the throne even now.
What an amazing God we serve. He is doing an incredible work in the hearts of the Chinese people, and all over this world. Somewhere today, while we are doing our household chores or working at our jobs, His name is being lifted up in tiny villages in Asia. May we pray for them. May we pray for those who are taking His name to those who have not heard it. His amazing grace is at work.
The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.