Day Twelve - Sunday, September 11.
Our last day was full of church activities, new places and new friends. Every Sunday should be this wonderful and busy.
We left early to be at the Bethel Christian Assembly for the 10 am worship service. Again, this was one of the churches in which Beifei learned about Christ and came to saving faith. Pastor Simon was there, but he was technically still on holiday (vacation) and another assistant pastor gave the morning message. The first part of the service was indeed different for me but very moving in worship. After an opening hymn and prayer, the next 25 minutes was left open for anyone in the congregation to lead in prayer, to read or recite a passage of Scripture or to call us to sing a hymn by naming a song and its number in the hymnbook. It was what I would consider a type of Quaker worship for those minutes of the service. To be quite honest, it was very evident that these church members were well versed in the Bible and had spent much time with the Lord in prayer. It touched me deeply. It was a great blessing to worship at this church as we shared our time in England.
At this church, there was a couple who was very instrumental in maturing Beifei in her early Christian walk. Ida was another Chinese lady who was deeply committed to the Lord. Ida and her husband Shane were introduced to us, and they invited all of us over for lunch after church. It was a special time of hearing their testimonies about how God had done some extraordinary and miraculous events in their lives. It blessed us richly.
After lunch, we all drove to the river where Beifei had been baptized some years ago. It was actually a fishing area which the church had used to baptize new believers. It was a powerful and wonderful memory for Beifei to share with us as we looked at the waters.
Next we went by Peter Gates to see him one last time. He was so instrumental in our trip to England, and we wanted one more chance to say how grateful we were for his kindness and generosity. He is such a gentleman and so humble. We gave him a "thank you" card and hugs. What a unique individual for the Kingdom's sake!
The day was not over. About 4 pm, we dropped by the home of Pastor Chris Webb. Chris was another pastor who had been a member of the Guildford Park Church, where Beifei had attended as well. Chris had been a kind of mentor in helping answer many of Beifei's questions about God and salvation and eternal life, and now he was Pastor of the Send Evangelical Church. Chris' wife was not able to be at the evening worship service, and that is the reason we went to their home. We met the family (they have four children under the age of 8 years old) and they were so sweet. At 6 pm we were at the Send Evangelical Church to share our hearts and testimonies with that congregation. ("Send" is the actual name of the little village close to Guildford.) During the worship hour, Beifei related her personal testimony of salvation, and I was "interviewed" by the pastor and was asked to speak about my church (The Vision Plus Church here in Riverside) and its ministries and work. I spoke briefly and talked about the many miracles God has accomplished along the way of our church life. I reminded them that God is still the God of miracles and provision. We look to Him continually for all our needs. Many came to me afterwards with a word of thanks for my message.
This was our final night in England, so we went to a Fish and Chips diner around 8:30 pm. We went back to our host home, packed and readied ourselves for departure early the next morning. It was kind of sad, knowing that we would be leaving our new friends to go back home. On the other hand, we were anxious to get home as well.
This trip reminded me once more that we can be God's instruments in so many far reaches of the world, if we will but be available and ready.
Beifei standing at the entrance of the Bethel Christian Assembly Church
Shane and Sue at the table for lunch on Sunday afternoon
The site where Beifei was baptized several years ago
Galen/Sondra, Ken/Beifei and Ida/Shane at the river site of the baptism
Beifei with Pastor Chris Webb's wife and baby
The church building of Send Evangelical Church
Ken and Beifei at the end of the service with Pastor Chris Webb
Day Thirteen - Monday, September 12.
We woke up in England for the last morning of our trip. At 7 am, Asator came to pick us up. We hugged our host couple and had that tinge of sadness because of the special bond that God had formed between us.
Ken, Sondra and I said "good-bye" to Beifei at the airport, as she was staying three more days and then flying back to China to spend time with her family. Our trip seemed long, as the first leg of our flight was all the way from London to Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada. What a long flight! Our last leg, though, was quite short as we flew from Vancouver to LAX. Crystal picked us up and we were finally home!