During a trip to Fujian Province last week, I visited two Christian social service organizations, Living Spring Children's Home and Loving your Neighbors. I saw the glory of the gospel and the future direction of the Chinese Church.
On the afternoon of Dec 3, I went out with my brothers and sisters to visit Living Spring Children's Home in Quanzhou City. It is a special public education institution for street children. The institution rents an abandoned primary school in Hong Kong, which used to be run by a Christian couple. More than a dozen of Christians have been serving here. It has been put into use for nearly ten years.
There are a group of special children who are autistic, physically handicapped or with moderate mental retardation. They are all street children, abandoned by their families, nor does the society accepts them. While in this loving homeland, they are cared and cultivated. In the eyes of Christians who serve them, these children are not the "waste" of the society but a valuable soul with God's image.
The institutions provide professional and comprehensive care and training for those children. They also have hand-made and cooking classes. They pray twice a day to rebuild their characteristics and confidence. When they grow up they could face the society with a healthy personality and professional skills.
The organization has won the support of relevant government departments. Volunteers come to help from time to time. I think this kind of charity service is the best practice of our faith. These Christians follow the example of Jesus and contact with the most marginal groups of society. They serve them with the love of Christianity.
"Love your neighbor" is one of the most frequently mentioned phrases in the Bible, representing the noblest ethical spirit of Christianity. The phrase also shows our ambition to make the world better. Loving your neighbor has become the name of a non-profit organization which was founded by three young Christians in October with the idea of heaven and the spirit of social work.
Loving your neighbor is not an abstract doctrine. To realize it we should love everyone around us. The mission of the organization is to care about the human body and mind and promote the comprehensive development of people. They are following the example of Jesus and practicing the faith of heaven!
In fact, as early as two years ago, they began to explore the mode of Loving your neighbor when they were students. At that time they took good care of those children whose parents were not at home. They rented a house, opened free cram classes and attracted a lot of children to participate. Then they carried out after-school activities and moral education classes to cultivate children's independent thinking. They designed a series of courses to promote children's skills of social communication and handmade abilities so as to promote their overall development.
After more than a year, Loving your Neighbors gradually grow and get the affirmation of relevant government departments. The committee of social community provides three sets of facade rooms as their venue of activities. In addition, the organization carried out services projects such as free medical treatment, caring for old women, eliminating literacy and visiting families.
Public welfare and NGO organizations are currently popular in China. Some universities have gradually set up courses of social work. Social services will become a trend so the church shouldn't fall behind.
Salt and Light: Lives of Faith That Shaped Modern, a book I once read tells us stories of ten outstanding Christians in the late Qing Dynasty and Republican periods (including Tsinghua University President Mei Yiqi and China's first female university president Wu Yifang.) They were all pious Christians who did not enclose themselves in the narrow space of the church. Instead, they followed the example of Jesus and walked towards society. They especially cared for those who were vulnerable or marginalized in the society. They followed Jesus' teachings and tried to benefit people. They wanted to make efforts to change the society. Their behavior has pointed out the direction of the church in China.
I think that the exploration of young brothers and sisters from Loving your Neighbors represent the direction of Christians in China. Heaven is not a paradise after death. Even when we are in the secular world, we could show the style of heaven through our efforts and social service.
Translated by Emma Ma