Amy

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One of the highlights of last week was your response to Book Cousins. Thank you for jumping in with sharing where you have seen God at work. The winner was notified, but to entice you to buy The Bells Are Not Silent, today go bell hunting with Joann and me. This was first published in September 2012.

Remember the song Deep and Wide? I belted it out as a kid, complete with hand gestures and humming words as we sang it faster and faster. “Deep and hmmm, Deep and hmmm!” Through song and laughter the breadth and depth of God’s love drilled into us as we sang in Sunday School.

I shared last weekend that Joann and I were going to Harbin to research church bells. She’s the actual researcher and I am the side kick. She became interested last spring in Chinese church bells we have traveled to Qingdao, Tianjin, and Harbin. We’ve also visited the bell museum and various churches in Beijing.

These trips have shown me that my view of the Bride of Christ has stayed about as far as I can open my arms to show how “deep and wide” the church is. Um, that is to say, pathetically small.

Part of it is just the reality that we can’t know what we haven’t been exposed to. Part of it is that history has kept different part of Christianity separated. Part of it is just that I forget how truly amazing God is.

Through these trips, God takes my arms and pulls them apart, experience by experience widening my view of vastness of the church.

In the stretching, there are moments of comical “what should we do” and a bit of mild awkwardness. When a Catholic brother and sister asked us in their sanctuary if we could pray together we said, “of course!” and started to do the Protestant huddle only to realize we were going to stand in line facing the cross. In the Orthodox Church we forgot to bring head coverings and I had to keep reminding myself to back out of the church and not turn my back on the cross.

But the most holy-ground- surreal-ness of “is this really happening” comes in meeting people and seeing how beautiful the bride can be.

At the Russian Orthodox Church scheduled to meet a contact at 10 a.m. and had been told that church didn’t like Protestants or Americans, so try to speak Chinese.  We met utterly delightful Russians and as they realized we truly were interested in them, the bell, and their history, they repeatedly thanked US for caring about their history and trying to preserve it. My friend wrote more about the experience and about the bell. You should read what she wrote!

When our motley crew of Chinese, Russians, and Americans was finally allowed up into the bell tower, we were all in awe as we looked at an 1800s Moscow bell in an Orthodox church in a Chinese city being researched by an American.

We entered with those labels, but we exited one radiant bride. Humbled by the thought that God uses the likes of us.

Deep and wide. Deep and wide.  May our understanding of how truly deep and wide expand far beyond our fingertips.

I loved the responses to last week’s question: Where have you seen God at work? So, this week. What songs were popular when you were a kid? I’ll share a few I remember in the comments.

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  1. Rich September 29, 2012 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Excellent, Amy. Opening our eyes to what God has done and is doing beyond our doorstep is breath-taking. Thanks for giving me another deep breath!

  2. Mark Allman September 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    It is so hard to deal with what we do not know. :) Wisdom should tell us always to remember that there is so much we do not know and to not let our knowledge of something blind us to that which we do not know.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy September 30, 2012 at 5:33 am - Reply

      So true!

  3. Mark Allman October 2, 2012 at 5:18 am - Reply

    I thought this Amy:

    I do not know what I don’t know and I don’t know how that affects what I do know.

  4. […] I’m bell hopping with Joann in Shanghai and will share more later. This morning in church we weren’t able to sit together. No big big deal. Except that it was (and I know I border sounding like a broken record) so moving I had to hunt for tissues more than once. […]

  5. Mike May 2, 2017 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Yes, I know what you’re talking about, Amy. I also had a similar experience our first year in Hanzhong, back in 1994. We had heard that there was an old church in Hanzhong, and we were hoping we could attend it. So one Saturday when we were exploring the city, we actually found it! When we walked up to it we saw an older lady sweeping the entryway. When we told her that we would like to see the inside the church, she ushered us into the church office. We waited for a few minutes, and then an older gentleman came in and sat next to me. With a radiant smile he laid his hand gently on my knee and asked me, in perfect English, “Do you know Jesus?” Oh my!! What a delightful couple of hours we spent with this pastor!

    To make a long story short, we learned that the church in Hanzhong had been established by CIM workers shortly after the Boxer rebellion. The pastor was 80+ years old, and he recounted story after story of those early workers. Yes, by the time we left, with a promise to return the following day, we knew that we had been given a gift that was precious because it was the gift of fellowship with this wonderful brother!

    We kept our promise and returned the following day, just the first of many Sundays that we would eventually spend over the course of our three years there.

    Oh, and my favorite song growing up wasn’t actually a Sunday School song but rather a song that we sang at Good News clubs. “Somewhere in outer space God has prepared a place for this who trust him and obey…” I especially liked the countdown at the end. :-)

  6. Kurt Harris May 13, 2017 at 5:42 am - Reply

    I bought Joann’s book recently, but haven’t read it yet. I’m so glad you got to tag along. What a fun adventure that must have been. And I’m glad to hear something about this old Orthodox church. The year before we went to China I had a friend who was Orthodox and went to Harbin to teach and he got to connect with this church and its priest. Funny thing is, Nancy and I are now Orthodox, though not of the Russian flavor. (Our parish loves Americans and Protestants!)

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