“Communism is our official religion” – A Christian service in China

One Chinese friend told me a few days ago: “Communism is our official religion. Actually, most Chinese do not have a religious belief, while more and more Chinese got to know and accept Christ. ” Well, I think this number still must be very small, but I met about 70 or so this morning. The Christian service I attended with my Chinese friend was hold in a conference room in the eighth floor of a conference center. There were all kinds of people there: children, students, workers, at least one currently unemployed, elderly people – although their background is so different, they themselves said they simply are one family.

The service was very emotional, after wishing the persons sitting around oneself a good morning (“zao”), we started singing songs to praise God. They had a video projector so I could follow the text that was not too hard to read because the few lines were simply repeated several times. Everyone joined the singing, was clapping hands and the atmosphere was really relaxed (轻松 “qingsong”).

After this opening, a bible text was read out aloud and repeated by the attendees, the priest started a lengthy preaching speech. I used some jokes and everybody followed his words attentively, but it was relatively complex (somehow about why it is impossible to directly hear or see God) so at some point I could not follow any more because I did the words he was using. Some of the students were eagerly taking notes – their strong believe in Jesus was perceive.

Then followed a flash-video presentation (that had it’s origin not in mainland, I’m pretty sure of, because it only had English captions and in not-simplified characters not commonly used in mainland China) and another emotional speech that even made some people start crying. As the the speaker was among the crying people I did not understand more than a few words.

In the end newcomers had to introduce themselves in front of this audience (er, I did not really had a clue what to say…). When I thought we were over, and people were just going to have some kind of small-talk or a little chat I suddenly realized that the small groups that were building up were meant to discuss the group member’s individual problems with the group and pray for them. At that point I really did not to know what to say, especially because the others were referring to parts of the priest’s speech – I had did not really understand it. After the others said that my Chinese was really good, I kind of was forced to say something, so I once again introduced myself and basically said that I did not have any sincere problems that I want the others to pray for…

Although according to my friend there had been some foreigners taking part in the group’s activity, today I was the only one and therefore somehow stuck out. One little child afterwards spotted me, pointed with the finger at me and said “Waiguoren” (Chinese for foreigner). This situation has happened to me before quite a few times so I was not surprised by the child’s words, but rather by the short dialogue that followed:
Mother: 他是一个朋友。 (He is a friend)
Child: 如果他是朋友的话,我为什么没见过他?(If he is a friend, then why haven’t I seen him before?)
Mother: 因为他跟妈妈一样,今天第一次来。(Because today he came for the first time, just as your mother)
So I guess you would become a friend and “family member” really fast. But do I want to become a family member?!

After the whole procedure which took some two or three hours I had lunch with my friend. While I was told that the members are happy that their organization is not forbidden by the government, I was thinking how I could kindly decline a possible request that I should regularly attend the service in the future…

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