Thursday, September 29, 2016

More Musings on China from Dallas

Early Thursday morning greetings from Dallas, Texas; I am here for the tenth annual Dallas Ministries Conference. WLP supported this conference in its early stages and, as it grew in those earlier years, we pulled back but, knowing that perhaps 10,000 people gather for this conference, we thought it a good idea to offer sponsorship again. Mary Birmingham and I will be leading several workshops focused on RCIA and baptism in general. I am looking forward to seeing how all of this unfolds in the next several days.

Here's a photo I took yesterday of one of the skyscrapers near our hotel. Crystal clear and dry here yesterday.

I wanted to share just a bit more of my experience in China. There was a part of me that wondered what it would be like to visit and spend time in a Communist country. Admittedly, my knowledge of Chinese history is very limited. My English-speaking guide provided the most help. She was keenly interested in the election cycle here in the U.S., wondering if I was for Mr. Trump or, as she put it, for "Mr. Bill Clinton's wife." She was quick to point out photos in various places that showed Michelle Obama visiting China several years ago. The Chinese seem quite proud of Mrs. Obama.

As our conversations continued, my guide referred to China repeatedly as a "one party system." As we stood at Mao's mausoleum, at which there were thousands of people lined up to enter and catch a glimpse of his body, she told me how revered the late chairman is here, especially for those who suffered under Chinese dynastic imperialism for centuries. She spoke about how her own parents "love" Mao and in 1949, when he "established China," how free they felt from the years of oppression they had experienced. In 1949, "China belonged to all of us," she shared.

"Control" was a word she often used. For instance, the massive Beijing subway system moves what I believe to be millions of people each day. One never waits more than three minutes for a train. She told me that this is a way to control the massive amount of people moving through the system each day. She pointed out the license plate numbers on the cars on the crowded freeway we used to reach the Great Wall, asking me if I noticed anything. I did notice that all the license plate numbers ended in "0-5." The government controls traffic here by only allowing those cars displaying license plate numbers ending in "0-5" every other day. On the other days, cars whose plate numbers end in two other digits are allowed on the streets. "How," I asked, "do people get around on the days when they cannot drive?" "They must use public transportation," she replied.

On the city streets I was struck by the age cohort surrounding me; mostly people between the ages of 16 and 25. The one child policy, which has recently been changed to two child, meant that all of these young people will never know the joy of having siblings. This made me sad because of the joys that my own sisters and brother have brought to my own life. In China, I was so grateful for Gina, Janet, +Joanne, John and Jim.

I need to do so much more research and reading into the history of China. I need to understand more about imperial rule, about communism there and how the government's policies affect human rights there and beyond. These are the outcomes of traveling, challenges for which I am grateful.

Preparing for my workshop on baptism later today (after we set up the WLP exhibit booth in a few hours. More later.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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