Made in China: highlights and impressions

17 Apr 2018

By David Pereira

Having never been on a trip like this before, I jumped at the chance to register myself for China. I didn’t know what to expect from it but was excited to see what God had in store for us. God put together a team so wonderfully diverse – we were nine people from six different countries and four continents – we could have easily been mistaken for a walking Benetton advert.

Due to various circumstances, it was impossible for us to know what our itinerary was in advance, but we knew that our focus would be on building and strengthening our relationship with church members from our partner church over there.

We were greeted warmly by members of the church from the first day, and I was taken aback at how little time it took us to form friendships. On the face of it, we were very different people who had very different upbringings and life experiences. The one thing we had in common was Christ – who broke through all cultural, racial and language barriers. In all that we did, Christ was at the centre, and the atmosphere of genuine love that was around us allowed us to invite people we met at coffee houses to join our games and discussions without it seeming unnatural or intimidating for them.

We were not missionaries going there to tell them how to do things right; we were friends going to partner with them and work alongside them. The more we shared our lives with them, the more relatable we became to them. Conversations at coffee shops ranged from light-hearted banter and fun, to the intimate and personal, and all the way to the philosophical and intellectual. It all stemmed naturally and authentically, without us having to ‘lead’ the discussions.

Our days began with our team gathering together for worship and prayer followed by a discussion led by a different team member every day. These sessions gave us time to refresh ourselves spiritually at the start of each day and also learn from one another.  We saw our team members grow spiritually and people started to move in their gifting more as the days went on. Unplugging from the busyness and repetitious lifestyle that Dubai can create was a welcome change for all of us, as it allowed us to de-clutter our minds.

During the week, we had meetings in the evenings which started off with members of City Hill and the church there leading us in worship. The worship team in China is a group of extremely talented young professionals, who have given their lives completely to the church. Some are sacrificing the prospect of better-paying jobs and careers because of their love for the church and the city. It was both humbling and encouraging to see these young people on fire for Christ and his Church. The worship sessions were followed by a short teaching and group discussions which were again, done by different members of our team every night.

Our teams were stretched during these meetings – for some of us, including myself, it was our first time to be asked to teach in front of a church meeting.  To put it mildly, public speaking isn’t something I am overly fond of.  To put it bluntly, public speaking scares the daylights out of me.  We were asked to step outside of our comfort zones,  and we responded, and it was then that we saw what we had always heard about – that God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called. The group discussions after each teaching allowed us even more time to share our lives, encourage each other, pray for one another and build deeper relationships.

I wish I could share the details of all the exotic foods I tasted, but truth be told I didn’t know what I was eating most of the time – and it was probably for the best that it remained that way.  After ten long, eventful, fun days together we said our goodbyes at the local airport.  As we walked towards our boarding gates each one of us knew we were leaving China a different person from when we arrived. I left with an overwhelming feeling of excitement – we know that there is no limit to the things we can achieve in that city and all of China together as the Church.

I hope by sharing my experience on this trip, you’ll know that for God to use you on a trip like this, you don’t have to be a great preacher, a worship leader, an evangelist, or a prophet. For God to use you, you only have to allow Him to use you. Make yourself available and let him surprise you.  Also, it’s great fun!

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