Dear Praying Friends:No one ever said our life was boring. No, it’s full of challenges and blessings of all sorts.
We love to have guests come. Not just because the Chinese ones usually bring gorgeous presents, but because they always bring themselves. Like the lovely couple who came from Taiwan for a wedding a few weeks ago. We had met the bride while she was a student at U.Va., and her elderly uncle (88) and aunt (78), who don’t speak a lot of English, needed a place to stay for a few days. We were told that he was hard of hearing – true – and his wife said he didn’t talk much, which was true enough when she was talking, but not when you leaned close to him and asked questions. Then he turned positively loquacious. How often do I silence others by my loquacity? Anyway, Dori discovered he likes classical music, so she brought out the Bose earphones which had been given to us and let him use those. There he sat, happy as a clam, for hours on end, in his own private world. They were both Buddhists, so we weren’t supposed to hit them hard with the Gospel, but Dori slipped in some Chinese Christian music along with Mozart. To our surprise, both he and his wife asked whether the chapel in which the wedding took place was Protestant or Catholic, and then what are the differences between those two, and pretty soon we were able to share the whole Gospel with them. Then there were the leaders of house churches in China who came by. The stories they told made us thrill with joy over the ways God uses his people, and the courage of our brothers and sisters in China.
Ego the Food Critic?
You wouldn’t think writing book reviews could be hazardous, would you? Well, think again. Two of mine in the past few months have evoked very – um, shall we say – vigorous responses. As in, really upset, and convinced that I had been inaccurate and even unfair. In response to their comments, and stung by any possible resemblance to the villain in Ratatouille, I revised both reviews, one of them twice, but the result was still critical. The problem is that the authors, editors, and publishers whose books I review don’t like to have their works criticized. The other problem is that some readers appreciate frank evaluations. Visit our Web site www.chinainst.org and see if you can guess which ones get flack.
One of the most long-lasting debates in the history of Protestant Christianity in China concerns the proper translation for the word “God.” One side says we should use the name of an ancient Chinese deity. The other side says we should use the generic word for “god,” despite its wide range of meanings, including all sorts of spirits. For part of my position, go to the most recent issue of “Reaching Chinese Worldwide” on our Web site to see the first of two articles.
Relying on God
The Lord gave special ability in Chinese when I had to render the elegant Queen’s English of a clergyman from Oxford into decent Mandarin at a wedding last month, and when I preached in two Chinese churches. The same help from above will be needed as I teach a course on John’s Gospel in Taipei August 13-24. I leave for Taiwan August 7 and return on the 29th. In Taiwan, my assistant and I need to go over the translations she has made of stories for the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity (www.bdcconline.net) While I’m gone, Dori will be helping Chinese Christian Fellowship leaders prepare for the new academic year. On the 30th, I am to fly to London to participate in an academic conference on Christianity in China. I’ll make a brief presentation on Christians and the government – a very sensitive topic - on September 1st, and fly home the 2nd.
Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the privilege of knowing God and serving His purposes among the Chinese. Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:8 seem increasingly appropriate to our lives. Your part in our work –prayer – is essential (see Ephesians 6:18-19). Without prayer support, we could never overcome the considerable obstacles we encounter and our own inherent inability (John 15:5). Thank you so much. Your brother in His grace, Wright