Since returning to Luzhou, I’ve failed to mention my Sunday mornings at the Luzhou Protestant Church, led by Rev. Liao and her husband, Rev. Wang.
Just a brief history: The church was founded by Canadian Methodists in the early 1900s. The original church building is from the 1910’s and is still being used today. During the Cultural Revolution, when all churches in China were closed, it was converted into a movie theater by the Red Guard, showing Communist propaganda films of that era.
As most churches in China, the Luzhou church reopened in the early 1980’s and continued to prosper under the government’s more tolerant, open environment toward religion.
Over the past 10 years, alterations to the church have been made: a palatial blue front was added to the outside of the building, a balcony built inside, new cement floor and pews, a raised stage, stronger rafters, a state-of-the-art lighting system, power point screen and an electronic sound booth. After 3 years of absence, I returned to find several air-conditioning/heating units installed in different places in the sanctuary and the platform area edged in polished granite. Two power point screens in the front and one in the back (for the speaker) were also new additions.
Our Luzhou church is certainly entering the modern world.
Worship Today: Outreach To Those In Need
As for worship, today’s message was given by Rev. Wang. His wife, I learned, was in Chengdu attending a Christian function there.
I’m always grateful that full use of the power point is not only used for our hymn singing and responsive readings, but for the sermon as well. Topics, key points, and pictures accompanied by music are always helpful for the Chinese church-goers but for me, a second-language Chinese learner, they are a lifesaver. My listening skills have improved over the years but I’ve always been a visual learner and need those characters to catch themes and important points.
We really were in for a treat today because we saw the Luzhou Church in full mission-project action.
Pastor Wang and the staff from the nearby church-sponsored health clinic (used to serve the community) visited an area north of us that was struck by an earthquake a month ago.
I remember that earthquake. It registered as a 5.2. I was actually taking a nap at the moment when it hit. It shook my bed from side to side and made me recall the Wenchuan Earthquake 4 ½ years ago that killed hundreds of thousands of people in this area of the country.
The most recent earthquake was less fierce but some remote, mountain villages sustained major damage and deaths due to mudslides and ill-constructed homes collapsing around their occupants.
The Luzhou church clinic volunteers, Pastor Wang and several church members drove in their medical van the long distance to help the villagers in those areas. His video gave us a glimpse at the damage done, plus interviews with the villagers about that frightful day. Some had lost family members and sobbed before us as they recalled their heartache. It was very moving, but even more so during a segment when the grateful community brought together what little food they had to cook for their guests. Potatoes baked on open fires and a local paste-like dish eaten by hand were shared with everyone.
During their visit, the medical staff distributed free medicine, gave exams and consultations plus provided necessary vaccinations. Pastor Wang and other church members listened to those in need of comforting, prayed over them and joined those of the Christian faith in song and prayer.
The video was quite an amazing testament to the outreach of the Luzhou Protestant Church via its steadfast members and dedicated clinic staff. Even though we hadn’t gone ourselves, we still felt connected to this project by being a strong, supportive church community.
An Invitation To Help The Choir
After worship ended at 11 a.m., I began talking to “John” Lu, our choir director, about the upcoming Christmas celebrations. The choir wants to sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” in English but it’s a bit difficult to get the rhythm down and the words. John was enlisting my help so we are planning a time when I can join them at practice (Thursday evening) to give my expertise.
The English carol, however, is just a warm-up.
After that, they’re planning quite a big show: The Hallelujah Chorus. Handel’s triumphant chorus has been translated into Chinese and has become a very popular Christmas and Easter worship number all across China. According to John, his friend from Britain will be coming to Luzhou during the holiday season and will be the guest director for their grand musical performance. Naturally, the pressure is on for the choir to not only sound great but do the church proud under the leadership of a foreign conductor.
Today’s a cappella anthem was sung so beautifully by the choir members that I have every bit of confidence John will have everyone ready to go come December 25.
It’s such a shame I have English Corner on Thursday nights, their practice time, or I’d be joining them.
I hope your Sunday was just as rewarding as mine was today. From along the Yangtze River, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your day.