Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wednesday January 12, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 201
    Note: our blog posts have been delayed, because now in mainland China it is not so easy to connect to all of the internet. We will post when we can.

Today we left Hong Kong and took the train to Guangzhou in China. One of China’s largest cities, Guangzhou is in the province of Guangdong, and is located in the southern part of the country. The trip was smooth, the train clean and comfortable, and the staff on the train wore lovely hats with a bright red trim, offering us coffee and tea (for a small fare) with a smile.  Entering China, with our passports and Visas in hand, proved to be quite simple. Some of us even fell in love, as if for the first time, with the immigration officers’ uniforms—a beautiful navy blue. And at least one of us almost, I say ALMOST, asked if she could take one home for herself (the uniform, not the officer) but her better judgment seized hold of the moment, so she just smiled at the officer with glazed over eyes.
The group at the seminary with president (far left) and faculty
         Our first visit was at Guangdong Union Theological Seminary. After a lunch at a restaurant in town, we toured their library and met with students and faculty for a time of sharing. The needs of the library are great. There are few theological books written in Chinese. Most of their library is written in English. The students have difficulty accessing the English books, so they are primarily used by the professors. Even with this great obstacle, the students’ desire to learn is so strong, that they soak up every bit of information that is available to them.  Later in the evening, when we met with the chairman of the Three Self Church Movement in Guandong (the entire province), we learned further that the greatest need for China’s Protestant Churches is a stronger education. There was a special emphasis on training teachers for seminaries. Many of the professors at Union Seminary have studied in the United States; their president has  been in the U.S. and visited Andover Newton. 
The library at the seminary

The dormitory wing of the seminary
We meet in small groups with students from the seminary.

       In our meeting at the seminary, we shared music through singing. The students all participate in the choir, a required course, and sang a Psalm using hand movements—they sang with a joy that came from deep within, we could not help but sing along. They were ministering to us. We broke into our groups and discussed our respective schools, the requirements, the coursework, etc. We learned of their deep sense of call. We learned that these students, after earning an equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, then return to their home churches to serve in a pastoral capacity. In one group we asked the question “What would you like for us to say about you to our friends back home?”  One young woman answered with great compassion in her voice: “Tell them that we pray for your youth, we pray for your young people; that they turn back to God.”

Students singing at our meeting

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