Sunday, February 17, 2013

"I want Christ's Community!"

It was a frosty 28 degrees this morning, yet a young woman in faded blue jeans and a gray quilted jacket stood outside as a greeter. Charlie and I were given a cheerful, bright smile and welcome as we approached the entrance of Christ Community Church. Once inside, Charlie felt fully at ease to enthusiastically introduce himself to complete strangers. He explained that he was a visiting professor from China, that he was quite familiar with Christian churches, and, gesturing to me, stated that I was his guardian angel. Many people at CCC know me and glanced a wry smile at me...they know that I don't quite make the grade as an "angel."

Christ Community Church as a body of Believers is as unique, when compared to other area churches, as Charlie is as a Chinese among Americans. Charlie looks different, sounds different, and sees and responds to the environment differently. So does CCC. From the moment you walk through the doors there is a pervasive atmosphere of fabulous difference. The spiritual ethos and culture of this faith community seems to bring all your senses to full alert. It is very much like stepping into a foreign, but warmly welcoming, country.

Charlie felt welcome, safe, and at home before he verbalized it. But verbalize it he did. During the time of worship through music, Charlie held nothing back. He didn't know the tunes, but he called out the words. Time and again, he pulled up the translator on his phone, looked up a word, and then heartily nodded in agreement, or spoke out an affirming "Yes!" I tried my best to take in the wonder of all that I was seeing, and Charlie was experiencing, through the tears that distorted my vision.

Sandy sat to my left and was fully engaged in the worship, and to Sandy's left were our good friends, David and Denise. It was the first time we had sat in church together for nearly 5 years. There was a palpable sense of the comforting and encouraging presence of God.

When the service concluded, Charlie told me that he didn't want to visit any more churches. I love the way he communicated it to me. "Bill, I want to come to Christ's Community from now on." 


 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Charlie and Church and Cultural Experiences...

Charlie wants to sample the many different cultural experiences that being a guest of the West has to offer. Today, I accommodated his curiosity with America's spiritual heritage. We went to church.

At Cross Pointe Church the first 30 minutes of the service is a time of corporate worship through music. Probably 500-600 people were gathered. Like many contemporary congregations, the music was led by a worship team of vocalists and musicians. After we had been singing for a few minutes my Chinese friend leaned toward me and with great sincerity said, "It's good to wisit wiz Jesus."

As we sang, it was obvious that he found one of the songs vaguely familiar and particularly moving. I took the opportunity to explain to him that its verses contained the primal message of the gospel. He had no problem tracking with me. Charlie received his master's degree in Australia, and while there he occasionally attended Christian Churches, and checked out small study groups in the Land Down-Under.

Following the service we went to Stevi B's for Pizza with Ben and Betty and their baby, Abby. Abby adores me. We play very well together. Today I introduced her to sweet tea. Betty is Chinese, so she and Charlie had a great time talking, and alternating between English, Chinese, and Chinglish!

Funny story...
Charlie went fishing yesterday for about 2 hours. He wasn't very impressed with American Angling. After two hours he had caught only one small fish. His analysis? "I think the fish must have been sleeping at that time of day!"

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Charlie...

At the Columbus Technical College where I teach, we have a visiting professor from China. His English name is Charlie. Our foreign guest spent most of yesterday with a friend of mine, Robert, and me. Robert, four-score years young, was born and raised in Columbus and knows its history inside and out. Robert narrated a time-travel back to the beginnings of this beautiful city beside the Chattahoochee River, once known as "River Town."

Constructed well before the Civil War, massive textile mills made of red bricks from the ample supply of red Georgia clay still stretch along the banks of the "Hooch." Some have been turned into storage facilities, some into government buildings and retail, some into loft apartments, some have succumbed to time, neglect, and the tragedy of fire. Robert was able to give us the history of each and every brick!

According to our tour guide, the last battle of the Civil War was fought right here in Columbus. We went to the Civil War Naval Museum where the charred bones of the Civil War Iron Clad Monitor are on display (those Yamn Dankees set it on fire). Moving from station-to-station we looked at the relics from the War Between the States. Fascinating. Sobering. Lot's of history in Columbus: Civil War cemetery, Bibb City, brick paved streets, the historic district, and of course the Pemberton House. Dr. Pemberton was the pharmacist who invented Coca Cola. Coca Cola was invented IN COLUMBUS, NOT ATLANTA!

Tomorrow I am taking Charlie to church with me. During his stay in America he wants to go to church, fish, and shoot guns! Charlie hit the jackpot with me! I can see to it he gets to do all three!