Beijing. The first day in China afforded us the opportunity to take in a few sights before we settled in to teach the house church there. A Chinese man named John (not his real name), joined us and I was delighted to find out that he was an evangelist. Unfortunately, he was schooled in the Western methods of Modern Evangelism and used The Four Spiritual Laws as his technique of choice. This is where you start a spiritual conversation by saying that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. This is a man-centered Gospel presentation and leads to many decisions for Christ, but produces false-converts because there is no knowledge of personal sin as shown by the 10 Commandments, no warning of Judgment Day and Hell, and no talk of repentance. Still, I had a whole day to talk to him about the Biblical way to evangelize.
We visited an old dead Catholic church and greeted the docents who were willing to give us a little tour of the place. There was a big offering box in the center of the floor so I took a peek in the slot to see if it was empty. It was.
A little old lady came up to me and asked me something about Jesus. This was an obvious open-door and I looked at John to see if it was okay to talk about Jesus, knowing that it is still illegal in China to have unauthorized religious gatherings. He nodded that it was all right and translated the conversation between the little lady and me.
I asked her if she would go to Heaven or Hell when she died and she said Heaven. Upon further questioning a group of people started to gather around us, maybe ten or fifteen people. And they started to argue, obviously offended that I would ask if they had ever lied or stolen anything, because of course, they hadn’t.
I took them through the 10 Commandments and they would not admit to breaking any of them. Then they asked if I believed in the Trinity, because they thought I was some sort of cult member coming in to convert their congregants.
A controversy arose. John translated that they believed the Pope was the Trinity, that he was the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! “No, no!” I argued. He’s just a servant of God!”
The little old lady ran to get her Bible. What? A Chinese lady ran to get her Bible? In Communist China?
Someone closed the big wooden doors at the entrance to the church, then locked them.
Uh, oh. What’s going on?
The side doors were now closed and locked.
I realized at that they didn’t want any unwanted visitors to wander in and overhear our illegal conversation about the outlawed God who created China and the universe. And them.
The Public Security Bureau had already busted our house church last August when they were on retreat. They were all ordered to go home or face arrest. They took the leaders’ name and passport number. At anytime they could make a move on the house church we were sent to minister to. Everyone needed to be cautious.
I was glad they shut the doors and locked them.
John and I made no headway with the Catholic faithful, who still insisted that the Pope was the Trinity. I thanked all of them and offered to pray. We all held hands, they closed their eyes and I prayed for them. I didn’t close my eyes, because I was afraid I was going to be stabbed for my beliefs.
We all shook hands, then John and I left. I couldn’t believe that they thought the Pope was the Trinity.
“That was so cool,” I said to John. I can’t believe we got to share our faith in China!”
“Yes, of course,” he said in thickly-accented English. “Steve… you need to be more bold!”
We shared our experiences with the rest of the team in the mini-van as we headed to our next destination. John looked concerned.
“What’s the matter John?” I asked.
“I think I translated the wrong word for you.”
“What word, John?”
“The word for Pope…”
“How did you translate it?”
“Remember when I translated that they thought that the Pope was the Trinity?”
“Yeah. So what’s wrong with that?”
“They were arguing that the Heavenly Father was the Trinity. I got the word mixed up with Pope. They were saying that the Heavenly Father is the Trinity!
Yep. Now I’m positive that they thought we were a cult.