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Sunday, February 05, 2023
culture
My Experience as a Foreign Student in the Church in China
Xinjie (New Street) Church in Xiamen, Fujian, the first Protestant Church of ChinaXinjie (New Street) Church in Xiamen, Fujian, the first Protestant Church of China

The Bible talks about the oneness of the body of Christ, regardless of race, ethnicity or color. The church in China has reminded me of the fact that there is only one God, but different forms of worship. My stay in China was only made possible through the grace of God, and I have the church to thank for this.

When I first arrived in China and was invited to church by a friend, I wondered what it would be like going to church in a different country. A part of me was excited and another part was not sure what to expect. When we arrived at the service, I noticed the brothers and sisters welcomed us heartily and there was no discrimination whatever. After exchanging pleasantries, they began praying, and this was the part that shocked me the most. What the Chinese brothers and sisters regarded as prayer was entirely different from what I had been taught.

While growing up as a Christian in my country Nigeria, we had been taught prayers of petition, thanksgiving and supplication. I had gotten used to saying sentences that mentioned my needs, I prayed for others and ended by adding "in the name of Jesus". However, here I was listening to something that sounded entirely different, which they referred to as "pray reading" (reading the Bible or a particular text over and over again, while being connected to God in your heart). According to them, this was a way of expressing their spirits. This was quite amusing to me, as I had never heard of "pray reading" before. Nevertheless, I tried to pray with them although I struggled because it was so different. The brothers and sisters prayed and we closed with "Amen". After that first attempt, I had no intentions of going back to that church, but the following Sunday I decided to try again.

This time, the brothers taught us how to pray and express our spirits. It was difficult at first because I did not believe this would actually work. After the service, we were assigned partners with whom we were supposed to "pray read" every night - I could not have been more grateful for such an opportunity to have a partner in accountability. It helped me to be more consistent. After pray reading with my partner for a period of time, I began to enjoy it and looked forward to our prayer time like a child looking forward to watching cartoons. Expressing my spirit became something I totally enjoyed and began doing it gladly. During that period, my spiritual life improved greatly.

Among the many benefits I enjoyed from being a part of the church in China was the feeling of unity. There was oneness in the church, just as stated in the Bible. We were taught to pray together as one regardless of denomination. We also ate together as a body and bonded when studying the Word. The brothers and sisters were like a family. They helped us learn Chinese and taught us various aspects of life. Besides "pray reading", I also learned how to pray to God about every and anything. I had been taught this while growing up in a Christian home, but the actions of the brothers and sisters reminded me to pray more often.

I admired the church in China for loving God without restrictions. Despite the past persecutions some Christians had faced, they chose to spread the Gospel constantly. I saw people who loved God not because of what he could offer, but because of the choice they had made to follow Him until the end. It was simply a display of love from the creation to the Creator.

My experience with the church in China was a pleasurable one for which I am absolutely grateful.

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