Being a constant receiver of Ruth’s Wit and Wisdom series, I must say it’s the most weird combination of heartwarming, hilarity and innocence packed in one line. To those English experts out there, yes I know that the last line was a bending of your inflexible grammatical laws. I apologize for the intrusion, do forgive me my apparent lack of vocabulary…heartwarmth just didn’t sound the same, and warmth was too broad a word. Those of you who don’t know who Ruth is, she’s a little girl in church who’s shown the most enthusiasm in obtaining a hotmail account since Bill Gates. Oh, Bill is NOT a little girl, I’m sorry about that.
I’ve been looking for a church for some time now. It’s almost like detective work, you need to ask the right questions, ask the right people, and have an instinct for what God wants you to do.
I’ve been to a few. I went to one that was pretty charismatic, the population made up mostly of college students. Another was a Methodist church that seemed to be run by women. And there was the Presbyterian church that had a short morning meeting with a really small congregation.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no problems with college students, women or small congregations. The one thing that I felt uncomfortable about was that they asked for money upfront. I was reading Matthew when Jesus sent His disciples out into the world, that He told them not to bring money, much less ask of it. I’m in no position to argue this case, I know there are also places in the bible that state that a worker is owed his/her dues. It just didn’t feel right to me.
I got a tip off after asking the Chinese food place I eat occasionally at, that there was a Chinese church at fifth and sixth (for those of you unfamiliar with American road systems, it’s the intersection between fifth street and sixth avenue). I’ve looked for it before, finding only a First Baptist Church, with the Pastor’s name in a small sign in front of the church. I’m not a linguist, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t Chinese.
I decided to go there and try looking again this morning. I cycled there, looked at the sign, and wondered aloud to God where the Chinese church could be. I cycled aimlessly around and came to an intersection. Waiting for the cars to pass, I saw a car with two Chinese in it, dressed up pretty nicely. No one wakes up early Sunday morning and dresses nicely unless going to church! A low-speed pursuit entailed (hey you try chasing a car in a bicycle). I lost them at one of the turnings, and I decided to head back nearer my dorm. Passing by First Baptist again, I saw that car parked opposite the church. Then I saw a few more cars coming and stopping in front of the small building owned by First Baptist and used as an “educational center”. More Chinese stepped out, and went into the building. I felt like I struck gold.
I spent the next ten minutes looking for a place to park my bicycle. I gave up, and just asked another Chinese passer-by. I brought my bicycle into the church and placed it beside the wall. They meet at the basement of this building, in a small and unflamboyant manner. It’s a small gathering that reminded so much of church back home. The testimony by an elder sister was good, about how she overcame cancer, and what God told her through it all. It was the longest service I’ve attended since coming to Tucson, ending at around 1 in the afternoon, but I know that God doesn’t ask of us what He’s not prepared to give. The offering box lay inconspicuously at the side of the door.
Being new, I had to stand up and introduce myself. It’s been so long since I was new. There was a sense of belonging though, despite the small differences. I felt amazed by God’s hand, that despite being half-way round the earth, here were His people, worshipping Him in the same way, all through the years. I may attend this church from now on. Oh, did I mention the church had the entire service in Mandarin? Left the place with a headache, but at least I had my share of spiritual nourishment. Thank God.