Thanksgiving Celebrations in NE Chinese Churches
By George Veith , November 02, 2018 10:11 AM
Heilongjiang province in northeast China is a very important agricultural region. It is important for much of China's wheat production, much of the wheat flour being used for making jiaozi or Chinese dumplings. The growing season is shorter than more southerly regions in China. Therefore crops are usually harvested at the end of September or early October.
As in years past, the three-self churches of Harbin again celebrated Thanksgiving this year, with each church taking a different Sunday in October. Days before the celebration, church volunteers were seen bringing into the church boxes and boxes of apples, pears, and oranges. As usual, churches decorate the inside of the church with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Apples, oranges, cobs of corn, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, and Chinese radishes adorn the window ledges on both sides of the church. The pulpit is decorated with special fruit and the entire front stage area has a plethora of things from the harvest. This year, the fruit was so arranged to make the Chinese characters 主恩丰盛 ("God's Grace is Bountiful").
This October the Thanksgiving theme was part of each of the Chinese and English services. The Chinese service included a special praise time of choir and congregational singing and a Thanksgiving message by the lead pastor, followed by photos of the different fellowships in the church. Bags of apples, oranges, and pears were also distributed to the church staff after the service.
Although the church in China is facing some difficulties, there is a real sense amongst the believers that God's grace is indeed bountiful and that there are so many things to be thankful for. Many TSPM churches in China display the four characters 以马内利 ("Emannuel") at the front of the church and when talking with local brothers and sisters, this is one of the blessings that they speak about often-that God is indeed with them. This is something that is not as emphasized in the churches in North America. It may be that because Christians in China are aware that they are a much smaller minority in their culture and as well as being taught from early on that there is no God, knowing that He is with them is a great comfort. This is the good news, something to be indeed thankful for.
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