I went to church last Sunday with Geena, Staci, and Robert. I had initially been looking to get the experience of Christianity in China. To my disappointment, I found out that it was actually an international church - and Chinese citizens were not allowed to go, per local government regulations. I’ve asked around, and I now believe that it has to do with funding. Still, my roommate was interested in coming with us, but she couldn’t, and once we got into the service, it didn’t even feel as if we were in China. I’m not sure whether I like that or not. It’s not that the service itself was not good - everybody was nice, welcoming, and international; there was a lot of music; everything was in English - but I’m just not sure where to direct my frustration now.
[For those of you who may have questions regarding China and religion, I can give you my very limited understanding: China is often deemed a “Communist” country because it has a system of one-party rule, and this party is currently (and has been since 1949) the Chinese Communist Party. The official religion of the party is Atheism, so government officials and all hopefuls may not practice religion of any kind - at least, not legally. However, there are five religions that are recognized by the government, and as long as said recognition is granted, believers are allowed to practice in peace with I think relatively few restrictions. You want to know the five religions? I knew that you would ask...I believe that they are Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism...and I can’t remember the last one. They’re major religions, anyway.
In addition, China is 92% Han nationality and also home to 55 recognized minorities. The qualifications for approval of a minority group include a unique culture, which often includes dialect, dress, religion...so traditional religions are practiced, as well.]
So, this visit to the international church opened my eyes to what I’d been hearing is a fairly sizable expat community in the city of Suzhou. More on that is surely to come...