Luis Palau's China Visit Finds Change, Hope, Opportunity
- Monday, April 19, 2004
Palau believes the enormous changes in China these past four years are evidence that his dream for an open-air festival will become a reality. The symbols of the new China are everywhere: massive skyscrapers, towering cranes, cement, shopping centers, millions of cell phones, automobiles replacing the once-prevalent bicycles, and a growing international business community. And, where at the close of the Cultural Revolution in 1978 there was not one single official church open, today there are thousands of registered and unregistered meeting places. The church in China is overwhelmingly biblical and evangelical Christian.
The Truth Shall Set You Free
One of the most emotional events of the Palau tour was a mid-week service at the Gang Wa Shi church, one of six officially sanctioned, registered churches in Beijing. An overflow crowd heard Palau give a message on spiritual freedom and spiritual liberty. Quoting the words of Jesus, Palau said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." The crowd spilled out into the alleyway by the church where closed-circuit TV carried the evangelist's message. Palau was obviously moved by the event from the opening hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross," sung in Chinese.
Palau concluded his message with a public invitation for his audience to pray to open their hearts to Jesus Christ. He was later told it was the first time there had been a public invitation with a show of hands at a Beijing church to become a follower of Jesus. Throughout the 10-day tour Chinese listeners were challenged to consider the message of Jesus Christ.
Prior to the service at Gang Wa Shi, Palau met with Rev. Yu Xin Li, President of the Beijing Christian Council. Rev. Yu said, "I believe China will be a Christian country, but it will take all the Christians in China to give a good testimony and show all the good we do for society; we love people, we love China, and we want to protect the rights of the Chinese people." Rev. Yu told Palau how just one month earlier the government agreed to allow the construction of two Protestant churches, costing $4.8 million each and each capable of handling well over 1,500 worshippers. The two new churches will be the largest in Beijing. Rev. Yu then showed Palau the blueprints for the two buildings.
Palau was also welcomed at the U.S. Embassy to China by Michael W. Marine, Deputy Chief of Mission, and Eric Richardson, Second Secretary and Human Rights Liaison. Marine has been named by President George W. Bush to become the next ambassador to Vietnam. Marine and Palau discussed the importance of China's efforts to liberalize its laws so as to make it easier for house churches to register. Marine said he believes the unregistered house churches and the registered Three Self Patriotic Movement Churches have far greater shared interests than differences.
Marine encouraged Palau to continue to dialogue with Chinese authorities to help them understand the positive role Christianity plays in society. Marine noted that Palau could be very influential in establishing mutual understanding with the Chinese government to recognize that Christianity is not a threat. Marine said it appears that millions of Chinese are looking for the anchor in life that Palau's message offers.
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