Conference Day Three! The girls (our interpreters), Jack and I were at it again at 7 am the next morning after what was, unfortunately, my worst night. Due to wedding feast overload and much celebration by parents who seemed to be somewhere else while their children ended up chasing, screaming, and running the hallways until I finally opened our door at 11:30 pm, nightgown and all, and sternly said, “Stop! What are you doing?" Someone appeared to remove the out of control children and it never happened again. Without a doubt word got to everyone I am sure! This was not an entirely bad thing since I was to speak on parenting the next day!
All of the people attending are amazingly receptive and they want more information from us. I think of all the resources we have in North America and these people have so little or none at all. Most do not have a heritage of Christian parents. They so desired our help and especially appreciated the sharing of illustrations as to “how to” work with and guide their children. I led several question and answer times which were well received.
We also had several groups meeting between 2pm and 5pm in order for Dan Freeman to walk them through the Gospel. At 5:30 in the afternoon, a prepared group of 11 men and women were baptized by Jack and Dan in a bathtub in Grace and Haven’s room. Since Grace and Haven had the large executive suite, we had room for lots of people. I was asked to pray over each one as they exited the bathroom and someone used my camera to capture pictures of a few of those baptized. Six more were baptized later.
We went from the baptisms directly to another sumptuous dinner and then to the really lovely and meaningful Rite Of Passage Ceremony. A huge need in Chinese families is to recognize the transition of young people into young adults, like a Jewish Bar and Bas Mitzvah. Parents need to let go and kids need to start growing up when they become teens. When the ceremony began, each young person was lifted up by four men while sitting in a chair and paraded around the auditorium with much fanfare. Each teen was then brought to the front where he or she arose from the chair now back on the floor and stood facing Jack and Dan with parents standing directly behind.
Jack gave a wonderful charge to the transitioning young people to become people who were worthy of respect. He quoted from 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul states, “When I was a child I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things”. Jack then pronounced a beautiful and different blessing over each one which Louise and I followed, handing each a memorial banner to hang in their bedroom.
It is hard to know if the ceremony meant more to the parents or the young people as both seemed to be very much full of awe and thanksgiving. The key is to help Chinese parents treat their children with respect but also give them more responsibility and work at home, preparing them to be godly, selfless, and mature.