June 2013 Ministry Trip

Published August 7, 2013

This was the 8th time we have visited in China. I would have to say this trip has had the most impact.

On this trip we were joined by our friend Sue, from Sydney. Sue worked with us in the rehab we ran in London many years ago. She is now a qualified Psychologist who has been working with abused women and girls for the past few years.

Security

Contrary to what we often hear about today’s China, it is important to understand that it is still under a Communist regime. Although they often like to present as a country that is full of free people able to make life choices of their own, the reality is quite different.

In this part of China, Christianity is still opposed. If people want to gather in groups larger than 15 people they need to obtain a permit. Previous to our visit this time many of the local Christians had been taken in for questioning and there had been harassment of many others. For this reason we were requested, by the organisation, to stay within the hotel or the place where we were teaching. We were asked not to venture outside as our presence as westerners would draw attention to the local Christians and could lead to further problems for them.

This is also the reason that I have not included any photos with this report.

The Organisation

Primarily they outreach into the  brothels of this city where most of the women working in these places are either slaves, or doing this work to provide for their families. They have a team visiting the brothels on a daily basis where they develop relationship with the women, and in many cases with the brothel owners. For women who leave the brothels there is a safe house, medical care, education opportunities and employment.

They also have a team working with men coming out of the prisons and they provide similar services for them. Health care and education is of a poor standard in this city and many of the clients have poor health which may include STDs, HIV, gynaecological problems, etc. There is also a very poor understanding of mental health in this part of the world and numbers of the men in particular have mental health problems.

Our Input

In the early years of visiting this organisation we provided training on addictions. We then moved on to provide basic counselling skills and have added to this teaching on subsequent visits. Over the past couple of years we have been asked to give some education on mental health issues, but we are not really qualified to do that. I have an understanding of issues around depression, etc., but I am not in a position to give training on more problematic mental health issues.

On previous visits the numbers of people attending our training has been around 35-40 people. This is usually made up of people working for this organisation, and others who travel in from outlying regions for the training. Each of the people doing the training is pastoring an underground church and I am informed that although we may only have 35 people in the room for the training, that the numbers of people that are directly impacted through our teaching reaches into the tens of thousands.

On this visit however we had a much smaller group of 15, made up of staff from the one organisation. This actually worked better due to the fact that they felt more freedom in being open in the group.

On the first day, due to me being ill all day, Sue taught for the whole day on Mental Health issues. This was the first serious teaching on this subject that these people had been exposed to. They were keen to learn and gain a new understanding of some of the people they are dealing with. At odds with other times of teaching there was a willingness to ask questions and speak up in the sessions. I should add here that the general rule of thumb in China is that the teacher is always right and should not be questioned. It is also unusual for Chinese people to be open about themselves, and we saw a new openness this time.

The next day I took over the teaching and in the morning took the group through some of the information we had looked at on previous visits. I had prepared a session on ‘Seeing God as Father’ which I was going to bring later in the week, but felt strongly that I should bring it during the afternoon session. At the end of speaking we led into a time of asking the Holy Spirit to come. We had the opportunity to pray for many of those present and God graciously gave us ‘words’ for each of these people. Just how appropriate these ‘words’ were we only discovered later in the week. It truly was a special moment.

The next day Sue went to the house where the men from the prison now live and was able to assist the staff in understanding some of the issues they were faced with. She was able to talk with them about general health and hygiene as well as more serious issues surrounding mental health. I will relate a wonderful story later in this report.

The next day was the last day of training and Sue did some more work in the morning on stress and associated subjects and I finished off in the afternoon touching on leadership, discipline/discipleship and then finished off looking at Is: 61, and asking the people present to understand that they can personalise that chapter.

Our last day in China we were able to move outside of the hotel and see a little of the city, although I must say there is not a whole lot of significance to see. A couple of statues of Chairman Mao and a lot of smog. We did however get to enjoy the food in a couple of restaurants which is very enjoyable.

Outcome

On our way to the airport to come home Sue asked if there had been any feedback, particularly in the areas that she had been teaching on. This was what was relayed to us.

When Sue had been at the mens house she had been asked about one of the men staying there. It was explained to her that this 18 year old man had some behaviours that the staff did not understand. He had been thrown out of his village because they thought he was demon possessed. His parents blamed each other for having a son like this and basically no-one knew what to do with him. Sue had taken one look at him and realised that he had Downs Syndrome. She had then spent quite some time explaining, through an interpreter, about this condition. That it was not a demon. No-one was to blame, etc. She explained some ways that they could work with this young man and generally educated the team, and the parents, about Downs Syndrome.

Until this time the parents had basically hated each other. As a result of this new information they stated that “their marriage had been healed”. They stopped hating each other and blaming each other and had decided to work with each other for the benefit of their son. Before we left China they had gone back to their village and explained to their neighbours about Downs Syndrome, and the villagers were then keen to accept this person back into the village. This village, and the neighbouring village are now very open to the Gospel as a result of this one situation.

By the time this story was relayed to us we were all cheering in the car at the airport. This is only one story of what can be achieved in a short time. We wait to hear further stories.

This is the result of one visit to one organisation in one country in Asia. We have invitations to many more organisations and ministries across Asia. If you would like to support this work please feel free to contact me. I hope you are encouraged through this report.

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