I was a bit anxious, the dawn before my departure to China. It was the first time I was leaving my home country on my own. My father's advice was still fresh in my mind. While I got dressed he said: "Try and get a church in the locality to attend but if there isn't any, be ready to start a fellowship with other Christians around." It was the last part of the advice he emphasized, for we all had in mind that it will be difficult to nearly impossible to find a formal church in China to attend as a Christian.
News regarding the negative treatment of churches and even Christians in China has made most people outside of China, especially Christians, think there’s no freedom of religious belief or the possibility of attending a good Christian church that has been officially registered in China.
I arrived in China late in the night on a Saturday and I asked my friend if there’s a church around that I could attend the following morning, and he responded affirmatively. The next day, I was in church with other Christian foreigners, in Nanjing, singing with joy to the Lord. There were over 100 foreigners, from different countries and continents in attendance, and that took me by surprise. What surprised me most was that Nanjing International Christian Fellowship (NICF) has been in existence for many years! I knew at that very moment this was going to be my new home. Though local Chinese are not allowed to join us in fellowship, the joy to have the liberty to fellowship with other Christians at one place was overwhelming. There were true love and joy among the saints and every new person was warmly welcomed and received into this wonderful family. I later found out this church was among many other international churches that have been permitted in various cities in China. I decided to help build the body of Christ here in China in any way possible.
I wanted to know how the Chinese Christians fellowshipped as well. So I was introduced to the Mochoulu Church by a good friend of mine. It is a Chinese church which is not far from the place we have our international fellowship. I attended their English service, which is on Sunday afternoons, and I knew this was a place I need to be. The entire service, especially the preaching, was life-transforming. The Chinese Christians were more than happy to have us around. I joined the choir to be of service to the church, and I began attending the English service on Sunday afternoons after my morning service at the international church. I later learned that Mochoulu Church was one of the places that hid the locals from being attacked by the Japanese soldiers when Japan invaded Nanjing. I was so happy to hear that for I now knew that the church played an important role in transforming not only Nanjing but China as a whole.
Whenever my parents call to check up on me, I tell them of how I can fellowship with other Christians, read my hard copy Bible and pray. This information came as a surprise to them, but it also brought joy into their hearts. We got to realize that by experiencing situations for ourselves can be one of the best ways to clear certain misperception about a particular situation or place. Yes, there are certain restrictions here in China, such as not engaging the local Chinese with the gospel or your faith, and fellowshipping only at designated and approved areas. But this experience has made me greatly cherish praying, fellowshipping, and reading of scriptures more than ever. I became too familiar with these activities back in my home country and as the old saying goes: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” My relationship with God and other saints has grown remarkably and I’m glad I took this decision to travel to China and have this wonderful experience.