有一回与一位朋友聊天时,他讲到当初来美国留学还是搭[货轮],在船上待了两个多月才到美国西海岸的西雅图. 今天人出国留学连转飞机顶多20个小时就可以到世界任何主要城市了. 我们很难想象[当年]那些人怎麼受得了那么的长途跋涉? (请不要忘了这不是太古老的故事,这里所谓[当年]的人今天还在我们的身边)
我记得当时的留学生遇到要打电话回家乡,就好像[上大餐馆吃饭]一样的隆重,因为打一通电话的钱大概就像上餐馆吃一顿那么多(一分钟好几美金). 今天互连网电话的使用使打电话回家乡比与邻居讲话还要便宜方便了. 而且透过Internet所传播的信息让一般人得到的消息几乎比任何一个50年前的[万事通]还要灵光.
最近几年,华人教会界开始对宣教的名词有些调整. 以前所称呼的[短宣队]现在已经慢慢地改用[访宣队]了,因为一般教会派出去宣教的团队都是以10天到14天为多,其实那是[晴蜓点水]他们所能做的顶多是[访问],[传福音],[个人佈道], 所以叫做[访宣队]. 所以有些人认为[短宣]这名词应该是用在比[访宣]要长一些的宣教活动,比如在宣教工场有几个月的投入.
华人教会到现在为止还是很少派出长期宣教士,但是华人有许多访宣队到世界各地去传福音. 一般的访宣队扣掉路上旅行时间他们可以在工场上待十天左右,所以访宣队在宣教工场上的事奉是很紧张的,事奉的范围包括了街头派單張佈道; 到华人聚集的市场去探访传福音; 以戲劇表演,詩歌来开佈道会,当然也有给本地教会同工的聖經教導与培訓的机会.
几年前东南亞的华人教会对访宣有突破性的想法,他们看到[访宣]的重点是让人在[参于 – Involvement]宣教事工中学习以后能成为宣教士,但是宣教事工不应该是属于教会中少数的人能够做的事工,所以他们希望透过[游宣]让人可以在没有事奉压力的情况下到宣教工场来体会宣教生活,使教会中更多的人能能对宣教有认知(Awareness)以至于整个教会都能对宣教负担,他们希望引动教会中更多的人与家庭,尤其是希望让宣教事工成为全家大小都能参加的事工.
在来之前他们就告诉我们他们的计划. 他们的性质有一点像[游宣],目的是来体验欧洲文化,希望了解欧洲华人以及华人教会的情形,当然也是为了要来探望他们的宣教士. 知道我们在柏林很忙,所以他们事先就告诉我们他们的来绝对不会打搅我们日常事奉的步调,因为他们把来柏林当成[自助游]一样地事先都自己安排好了所有的住处与行程.
柏林应该是欧洲最便宜,最安全的首都城市. 有两位我们以前事奉教会的姐妹在十一月底(感恩节那段日子)从纽泽西来看我们,她们的飞机票大约是一个人$550 (三四月的机票就更便宜了),她们在距我们住的地方很近的东柏林市中心定了一个四星级的旅馆(Park Inn),两人一间房连税一天才90美元,柏林地区一星期[任你游]的车票约35美元(不包括博物館的門票),吃方面一个人一天大约$40就够了.
这几位来过的弟兄姐妹回去时不论对宣教的了解,对柏林教会的弟兄姐妹负担,以及对德国文化与饮食的欣赏,他们都有蛮多的心得. 我们也因着这些弟兄姐妹的来到好像[他乡遇故知]一样给我们带来很大的鼓励与安慰. 希望他们回去后能在自己的教会成为跨文化宣教的火种为了欧洲的宣教,以及这里华人福音的需要能摆上他们的那一份,我们更求神使他们因着到工场走一趟让他们的生命有突破性的影响.
徐立, 偉苓 www.EuropeForChrist.org
In the week of December 7, 2008, with the grace from the Lord and the support of my wife, I was able to break off from my daily routine in the States that I was able to visit Berlin, and to see the Berlin Chinese Christian church. Lie and Lynn have served that church since 2006. This visitation provided me a very valuable opportunity to see a different Chinese church other than my church in the US. In addition, since I had a unique privilege to stay close to Lie and Lynn, I was able to see their daily life in Berlin and their daily work in serving the Lord.
Berlin Chinese church currently is using a Germen church building with members of two hundred to two hundred fifty. The congregation consists of multiple people groups, but during the visitation, I was able to see at least two groups of people – a group of students and scholars and a group of people working in service industry (for example, tourist guides, waiters, cook, and house-cleaning). Very few members are middle class with decent incomes. Most members are not rich. But spiritually, they are happy and warm-hearted, willing to serve and help others. In addition, they all treat Lie and Lynn with true respect, kindness and openness. A few sisters often give food to Lie and Lynn to express their caring, though they are not rich. Obviously, the loving and caring relationship is there between the shepherd and sheep. On the other hand, Lie and Lynn show their openness and love to the church members by hardworking in teaching, mentoring, consoling and caring
I attended their Sunday service in the afternoon on the day I landed in Berlin. The whole service was well organized and well prepared. The Lord was exalted in a lively worshipping. The most moving part was their baptism class on that day. A few new believers gave their personal testimonies before their baptism which will happen on the following Sunday. Those personal witnesses displayed their faith, humbleness and joy in Christ the Lord. One believer repented his sin of cheating in academic work in the public, while another showed her faith in Christ in midst of hardship of paying debt resulted from her husband’s gambling.
Besides their Sunday service, I also joined one bible study on one Friday night. The study was in a shop place provided by a sister. It has enough rooms for more than twenty people. People in that group are from different backgrounds: students, scholars, business persons, single mothers and professions. But most of their ages are near thirties. A young sister leaded that night’s study. She organized the study with a number of questions at important verses, while the group member discussed openly and learned the meanings of those verses. After study, the whole study group was partitioned into three to four prayer groups. I was assigned in one group with a brother leading the group. This brother prayed very thoroughly for each people in Holy Spirit. I was awed when he prayed for my wife and family. He prayed that I could care my wife more so that both of us could do better in serving the Lord. In deed, that prayer was in my heart for a long time, but I didn’t tell this brother before since I just met him in the prayer group that night. At the end of bible study, I had a chance to talk with a first time visitor who is a Ph. D. from a Chinese school of humanities and social science. That visitor eagerly wanted to learn about Christianity and if Christianity can help Chinese in aspects of culture and social orders. I think Berlin has a lot of Chinese scholar and visitors studying and seeking solutions for the future of China. If we can help them to realize what is the most important part of a human life or everyone, then we indirectly help Chinese in mainland in certain degrees.
City life in Berlin is quite different than life in most places of the US. Most people use public transportations, bus and railways. Walking to bus stations or railway stations is a must to most people. Backpacking and hand carrying of personal staff or grocery are very popular. It is very hard for a young parent with one kid or two kids in stroller traveling in Berlin. I was told some members of that church are young mothers who carry their toddlers through railways to their church meetings or the small group fellowships during the week. On my last day of visit, Lie and I went to a gathering including potluck dinner (while Lynn went to the Cantonese Women Bible Study). Shortly before arriving, we saw a young sister holding a medium size soup pot walking near us. Lie recognized her immediately and greeted her and I took that pot from her hands to relieve her.
Since few members of Berlin Chinese church own houses (I was told 82% of the Berliners renting the apartment), cell groups usually gather in small-size apartments, with one exception of one sister providing her business place for bible study. On my last visit mentioned above I saw nearly thirty people meeting in a single bedroom apartment. That apartment has the narrowest bathroom I had ever seen. The width of the bathroom is the width of its door with toilet laid in an angle. However the young couple living in that apartment not only provides their place but also serves in their group. The husband, a PhD on biochemistry, is going to work on public sanitation in an Africa country.
During this one week visit, I also had a very special chance to participate an outreach at a local refuge center. A group of sisters and brothers visit some Chinese illegal immigrants at a refuge center regularly to gives them gospel message, caring and spiritual support. Indeed, I consider that outreach work is the most challenging and the bravest task. Usually illegal immigrants have very different education background and financial status than those of church members. Helping illegal immigrants would definitely meet challenges, such as financial need and legal helps, etc. However the church members supporting that outreach are just normal people who already have their own difficulties and challenges in their life. For example, one brother had his own visa expiring soon. But he still faithfully participates in that outreach work. Their sacrifice, gentleness and kindness are well accepted by the people in refuge center. From the faces of illegal immigrants, I saw they were relief and relax after talking to the co-workers. Although they hadn’t accepted Christ yet, they are willing to keep coming to the bible study. During the small group prayer time, they expressed their longing for home, their struggling against temptations and their hopes for the future.
After all, I’d like to address the work and the life of Lie and Lynn. They had served two churches in northeast part of the US before Berlin Chinese church, my wife and I had the chance to be with them in both churches. The members in those two churches are scholars and professions, working in IT, Wall-Street financial firms, and other high tech areas. After their arriving in Berlin, they recognized the different combinations and profiles of members. They started to learn how to serve those people who work in service industry or those blue-collar working class people (lots of them are not-as-educated).
Lie and Lynn spent time with those people to know their family, their works, and their inner most worlds of their minds. In preparation of his preach, Lie also uses language which fit their education background. Since the educational backgrounds vary in two extreme ends, Lie has to work very hard to pick words and terms in his preach in order to pass biblical message to the whole congregation. Not only learning their language, but also Lie and Lynn learn their life styles so that their consoling among those people can be effective. I easily found the openness and sincerity in Lie and Lynn when they interact or talk to those people. Using Lie and Lynn’s own word, they are learning how Christ served people when He was in the world, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Although missionary life is hard and is exhausting some times, they still look like a loving and lovable couple when I see them walking together in subway, shops and cafes. Also one key part of their work is they often discuss their works very closely in regarding to Lie’s preaching, Lynn’s consoling, and the effectiveness of their coworkers mentoring.
The trip to Berlin exposed me to a different culture, a different life style, and a different church work from those of my home base. It inspired me to think what I should do in serving those Chinese people in Berlin or what should I change in the inner most of my soul in order to serve my Lord effectively.