Those first days in China I couldn’t spot the government agents following us. They were well trained to do their job. But they were at the printing house and in the hotel in plain sight. I was sure we were watched and followed day and night. China couldn’t afford to lose control over those who came to their country.
We didn’t have secrets. Our declared purpose to give out Bibles to Chinese people from churches was in our mind as well. We were there to love on everyone who crossed our path, with no words, but with all our hearts. We were there to pray and ask God for his blessing and help for the men, women and children around us.
Our team gathered together for the last time before splitting into groups, and we prayed.
When the three of us and the interpreter got in our van, we took the road to the North. I heard that we would stay in a big city from where we would go on day trips every day to distribute the Bibles to both large and small churches.
Then I saw a white nice car following us. I kept looking through the back window to see if they were the communist agents appointed to watch us in that region. They tailgated us the whole ride, two men in that car. After about an hour, our interpreter smiled at me and nodded his head.
“They will be with us for the next days. Don’t worry.”
I wasn’t worried.
All the way to our destination, I admired those drivers who knew how to keep everybody safe in such a confused traffic. With no traffic lights in most of the cities, and such diverse kind of vehicles, riding worn out cars and motorcycles, it was a daily miracle that we didn’t crush into anybody. People would go to work riding 3-4 individuals sitting on improvised extensions on their bikes. Sometimes a man would carry pieces of furniture piled up in a dangerous way in the back of his motorbike. Little children were transported in plastic buckets dangling on the handle of a motorcycle. They carried stacks of vegetables, boxes, pigs, goats, fire wood, practically, anything.
It took us a few hours until we got to our new location. The dust, heat and poverty were at home there. I saw people selling fruit, vegetables and cooked rice from a paper placed directly on the sidewalk. There were no beggars. The governments didn’t allow it. I remembered Ceausescu gave a law in Romania that people found begging or not working, not being in school, retired, or sick were taken to jail.
Our van stopped in front of a nice hotel. We unloaded our few personal things and checked in. Our real mission has began.
The interpreter was our leader now. He was in charge to take us places, help with our conversations with the locals, keep us safe. He was a Christian and also the man of the government, andI I knew he had to give an up-date about us to the secret police every night when we went to bed.
We left our bags in our rooms and went to have lunch together. That afternoon we were meeting one of the pastors in that overpopulated cities and making acquaintance with a few of the church’s board members. When i heard that the pastor was a woman, I marveled.
“The leaders of the church are only women as well,” the interpreter said enjoying to see my confusion.
“What about the men?” I asked. “What’s wrong with them?”
“The men are far away, working on building sites.”
I continued to marvel. Maybe that was a small church with a few members, I thought. But it wasn’t. They were at least one thousand people.
-to be continued-
CHECK OUT Rodica Iova’s story, “Ten Cherries.”