The following is from our April Storyteller Missions team. Join us on a trip in 2015!
Government officials visited my team in China during our second afternoon at the orphanage. There were 4 men in uniform. One additional very distinguished gentleman and a well-dressed woman joined them. We were asked to sit down in leather chairs in a room with credentials and awards posted at every angle. More orphanage staff entered the room where we were sitting, so we were clearly outnumbered and unsure of the purpose for the gathering.
The room got quiet while we all practiced perfect posture. "Sit up straight!" Katie whispered firmly to Asher, our 12-year old team member.
The officer began, "I would like to provide an introduction. I am chief of police, and this is the head director of the child center..." He introduced everyone else in the room. It sounded like all of the visitors were people of importance.
He continued, "We are here to offer assistance to you."
Chinese conversation continued for several minutes between him and our translator. Eventually she pointed to me, indicating that I was the leader, representing the volunteer group. We were not given the translation for the conversation, but I'm sure he wanted to know about purpose for us visiting.
He turned to me and spoke my name in Chinese. I nodded, thankful that I've learned my Chinese name. He looked through his paperwork and then said my name in English. I nodded again.
Then pointing at the director he asked, "Do you have anything you would like to say to this man?"
Without thinking, I nodded and said, "Yes." I paused and took a deep breath only to buy a moment of time. I had already had time to pray, but not to ask for words to say. "I would like to thank you for permitting us to see your beautiful facility..."
A few moments later I explained that I had been to China several times and was excited to visit their city and this wonderful location. The gentlemen nodded but were clearly unimpressed with my compliments.
The meeting continued for several minutes with more Chinese speaking around the room. Each of us in our matching "we love china" team shirts sitting quietly, listening, wondering, and no doubt, praying.
They concluded the meeting, "If you need anything during your stay, we are here for you. Let us know. I stood and began shaking each person's hand, thanking them for their generosity and hospitality. As I reached for the chief's hand he bowed slightly, put both hands around mine and said with a smile, "You are very brightly." I nodded and thanked him. While my body moved on to the next person, my thoughts did not.
"Brightly. What does brightly mean?"
Later as I reflected on that moment and had a chance to ask our translator the meaning, I remembered that one of my 3 primary prayers for this trip had been for us to shine brightly in a dark place. I smile as I think of it even now.
"Brightly." We are called to shine brightly in a dark and hurting world. As children we sang "This little light of mine. I'm gonna let it shine... Hide it under a bushel, no! I'm gonna let it shine...Let it shine. Let it shine..."
It's a word that I keep close to my heart now. Did God speak through that communist police officer that day reminding me to "let it shine?" Call it coincidence, but even our translator she had not heard that type of description used before. ☺