This month was my first time to visit Sweden, and it was an incredible experience. I was invited by Pastor Paul Wang at McKinney Chinese Baptist Church in McKinney, TX. I was invited to serve as one of the teachers at the Nordic Chinese Discipleship Retreat.
I had no idea what I was walking into. I had no idea who the 74 people attending were, where they came from or what they expected from the retreat. The only two people I knew were Pastor Paul and his wife. Yet after just a few days, I felt like I was with family I had known my whole life. And, after my 2nd teaching session, I was blessed to hear how God was moving in the hearts of so many at the retreat.
One of those testimonies is from a sister with kidney problems. She nearly died years ago but God provided her with a new kidney. After more than 10 years since her transplant, she is again facing problems with her kidney. She told me that she had been angry at God. She said there were times that she could not understand how God could let her go through such an ordeal while she was faithfully serving Him. Yet after I taught a little bit about life and death, she felt peace regarding her future. She said she can now face life and death like the Apostle Paul did, “To live is Christ but to die is gain”. She said she can continue faithfully serving God no matter what may come her way.
Another testimony came from one of the leaders of the retreat. He stood up after I spoke and said, “God just taught me something very important that I need to change in my life”. This came after I taught that while we are actively fulfilling the Great Commission, we need to intentionally live out the two Greatest Commandments simultaneously.
After we dismissed after my session, a pastor serving in Sweden came up to me and said, “God brought an American from China, not the USA, to teach us this important topic. Thank you for teaching it. But, I am so ashamed that it took an American to teach it rather than a Chinese”. At first, I had no idea how to take his words but I began to understand his meaning as I thought more about them.
This pastor was not insulting me. In fact, he was grateful for what God taught him. What he was saying is that because the Chinese Church is large and vast, they should already be teaching what I taught. But as he explained to me, he has not been hearing it taught nor has he been teaching it. I mention these testimonies to show something I believe God has designed within the Body of Christ.
As members of the body of Christ, I strongly believe we need each other. American Christians need their Chinese brothers and sisters and vice versa. The Iranian Christian refugees in Sweden need their Christian counterparts in the US Bible Belt. American Christians need their persecuted brothers and sisters. I could go on and on and name a number of examples. In every example, every example will end with "Vice Versa" because we need one another.
We all have something to offer one another, both by learning and teaching one another. We all have varying experiences that everyone else needs to hear and learn about. We need to give and take from one another as iron sharpens iron so we can mature in Christ and better glorify our Lord.
Unlike what the pastor said, when he felt ashamed, we should not be ashamed. In fact, we should embrace the reality that we need each other. We need to teach each other and learn from one another. We need to humble ourselves and open our hearts and churches to allow those who are different from us the opportunity to teach us, and vice versa. It may not always be easy but it will always be worth it.