Amy and I slipped quietly into the pew at the old St. Paul’s Church in Qingdao, now known simply as Guanxiang Road Christian Church. An usher, who for some reason was dressed in a gleaming white suit that seemed more suitable for a night out in Las Vegas than a Chinese church, spotted us, smiled, and came over to where we were sitting.
Uh-oh, I thought. He’s going to ask us to leave.
Guess you’ll have to get the book to learn the rest of the story!
The second bell that Noël Piper and I found in China was at a church in Ya’an, Sichuan Province. Like the bell we had found the day before, this one was cast in a foundry in Cincinnati, Ohio. The pastor didn’t know what had happened to the bell during the Cultural Revolution, and how it had survived. She did know, however, that it had been taken from the old church building (no longer standing) in the 1960s and returned in the 1980s.
Inside the main entryway of the downtown campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis sits a giant black bell tucked unceremoniously in the corner. Unless you’re paying attention, you will probably not even notice it. But as you can see, there is a striking similarity to the bell in Ya’an. Hmm…
I will be telling the story of these bells as well as few others I found in China. As fun as the stories are, however, the bells also serve as vehicles for telling the story of God’s faithfulness to the church in China.
And speaking of fun, here’s a bonus photo of a very young Pastor John Piper with the old Bethlehem church bell! (Thanks, Noël!)
Snapped one afternoon during a stroll through one of Beijing’s remaining hutong (lane) neighborhoods. So much going on: the man delivering coal briquettes; the fresh fruit; the umbrellas. the sign for donkey meat hot pot; the “family style restaurant;” the white sky.
Noël Piper will be my special guest; we will share background on the genesis of the book and some of the stories..
Here’s a snippet to whet your appetite:
Pastor Zhao fetched a ladder but refused to let Noël or me climb up there. He was happy that we were there, but no way was he going to risk having two injured foreign women on his hands! Ben, who is younger and much more athletic, grabbed his flashlight and scampered up to get a good look at the inscription. It was from this perch, high up in the steeple, that he read the inscription to us.
I will have copies of the book to sell, and will even sign them if you want!
If you’re in the Twin Cities, come on out! If you can’t make it to these, I’m hoping to have more such events schedule in March.