I can’t quite put the significance of this day’s events into words. It is too big.
Shawn and I step out of our taxi and into the morning sunlight. It’s 9:18am. We stretch our legs and look across the street to the gas station. We’re early.
The voice on the phone said to arrive at 9:30am. We have twelve minutes to spare. To avoid attention we buy drinks at a convenient store, but like secret agents we keep our eyes on the gas station.
We are waiting for a local man called P—, the leader of a network of house churches in the metropolitan and outlying regions of our city. P— is essentially the lead pastor of an underground church of 500,000 people.
That number makes me tingle with excitement! This guy is the kind of leader that we’ve been reading about in Christian magazines for the last two decades. And he wants to meet me?!
Shawn, who will act as my interpreter, is equally excited. We drink our Gatorades and peer from the window across the street. It’s 9:27am. In two minutes we’ll approach the gas station.
I didn’t initiate this meeting. People above me did. P— feels an urgent need to reach Asian college students and agrees that teaming up with foreigners could be an effective strategy. We are meeting to discuss how we might work together.
As the minutes pass my mind struggles to comprehend the significance of this rendezvous. I can’t believe I get to serve someone like this!
Squinting to shield my eyes from the glowing sun, I scan the street, north and south. Shawn checks the intersecting road. 9:32am and no sign of P—. Then, appearing from nowhere, a man in a blue windbreaker catches our attention. He smiles as he motions with his head that we follow him. It’s him!
P—, who seems to be in his mid thirties, has a sharp crew-cut and kind eyes. He exudes leadership and means business. Shawn and I scamper behind him like tag-along children. Our covert operation is underway.
We follow along behind P— until we reach a narrow alley where produce and freshly killed animals are being skinned and sold. P— falls into step with us and we begin to chat while Shawn interprets. I learn that we are on our way to a new apartment he’s rented. He wants to use it as a base for reaching out to one of the many universities that we have no people working on.
His wife and another young lady meet us at the apartment and let us in. It’s perfect! We meander through the bright spacious rooms as he points to where a video projector could be installed and where a full worship band could play. Shawn whispers to me that we could easily fit sixty people in the living room.
The four bedrooms, with their dark wooden floors, remain unoccupied and P— wants to know if I can send him American workers as early as December. This beautiful apartment would double as their home!
He introduces the young woman as one of the co-leaders of their college ministry. I’m thrilled when she speaks to me in English. I can sense that the Lord has been working out this connection a long time ago.
We sit down and talk about a few more details before saying goodbye. Another taxi returns us to our side of town, but we both know that the Lord is building an important bridge. We’ll be back soon.
In other news: Shawn lead worship at group later that afternoon. He played a song to Jesus that he had written the week before. It’s the first worship song he’s ever written!
To top the day off the first of Shawn’s five roommates decided to give his life to God! Shawn has been praying for all of his roommates, and he’s delighted to see the first fruits.