At 8:10 am on Sunday, December 22, 2019, the first service in Chengbei Church of my city has ended. Because I am a welcoming team member, I have to stand at the steps of church door and take care of my older brothers and sisters down the steps. It was raining that morning so the church had prepared plastic bags for brothers and sisters to put their umbrellas in. When the rain stopped, some of them were very conscientious by remembering to return the plastic bags so that they could be used again next time. At this time, while I was not paying attention, an older sister stuffed things in my pocket. I looked down and saw an orange. I immediately refused but she insisted. After a while, a sister my age had also stuffed something into my pocket. Before I could respond, she had gone down the steps.
Soon, the brothers and sisters who attended the first service had left and the attendants for the second service had arrived one after another. It was time for me to go home. On the way home, it drizzled again, but the four small oranges in my pocket were like coals whose warmth quickly spread throughout my body.
I had moved to the edge of the northern part of the city on Christmas Day after nearly a year of serving as a welcomer at the Xiasha Stone Church since the end of September 2017. At the end of August 2018, after repeated calls from the pastors, my heart was moved, and I have volunteered for as greeter in the city's northern Chengbei Church for more than a year so far.
My position is on the ground floor at the east door. This floor is mostly convenient for older brothers and sisters who use walking aids. The door also has three steps so there is a need to help them up and down the steps. At the beginning, I would greet those who attended by saying to them, "Jesus loves you, so do I". I did this in the Stone Church where brothers and sisters were delighted to hear it. However, slowly I uttered the greeting less and less. My enthusiasm that I had acquired at the Stone Church gradually decreased.
These wordis are not just tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm. They need to be translated into action. I find that some elderly brothers and sisters, when walking up the steps, still struggle eventhough they can grasp the railing. Whenever I see it, I hasten to approach them to help. It is also this way when they need to go down the steps. The elderly sisters would be moved to say "thanks to Jesus". When some of them need help with filling their bottle with hot water, I will help them. Some sisters come looking very unhappy so I give them a hug, and say "Jesus loves you and so do I". They then become happy at once. Being in this position of serving, brothers and sisters will ask me questions, think that I know everything. Some of the members are not in good health and need prayers and some need to pray for others...These are seemingly small matters, but I have found this specific way of serving.
"Every one who serves, through their service, will cause every brother and sister who walks into the church to feel the Lord's love". This is often said by the pastors to all team members so as to pray before they take up their posts. After a period of serving, I deeply appreciate the significance of this instruction. We stand in this position serving the Lord by serving the crowd and passing on the Lord's love through us to everyone who walks into the church.
Our first service starts at 7am. The welcoming staff are to arrive by 6:10am. At this time, some elderly brothers and sisters would have arrived. Some copy advance notices of the sermon information from the screen in the ground floor hall. Some are deep into reading the Bible and some are praying very intensely. They rarely talk to each other, especially during the 6:30am worship and praise time before the sermon. Some of the elderly sisters stoop holding the back of the seats standing there. I am deeply moved by their worship attitude and feel deeply unworthy. Many times in the past, I would come to the church, not quietly looking up to God, but to chatting endlessly with people I knew. These older brothers and sisters, through their practical actions, have taught me a proper manner in which to worship God.
Sometimes, I often wonder whether it is I serving my brothers and sisters or them serving me. For more than a year, the greatest take away for me that I have learned from the older brothers and sisters is how I ought to worship God, with a pious attitude followed by serving the brothers and sisters in the church.
These four little oranges bring me memories full of love. Thank and praise the Lord!
What should serving be? It should be about sending the Lord's love and warmth through us to those in need.
- Translated by Charlie Li