Friday, July 4, 2014

Chinese Only, No Whites Allowed

Yesterday I was visited by a very nice Chinese Christian woman who is the founder and CEO of an organization that ministers to and encourages Christian business people. The purpose of her business was, it seemed, to apologize and explain why they wouldn't allow me to attend their weekly morning prayer meeting.  The reason was "I am not Chinese". I speak and read Chinese so they didn't need to have any special accomodation to allow me to attend. The problem was my skin. If I had been an American born Chinese I would have been accepted, but I'm not. I'm an American Born Caucasian. 

She told me that their main focus of ministry was Chinese business people. I told her that I thought that was good. Having one Westerner among the 100's and 1000's who belong to her organization couldn't possibly change that.  Then she told me that their more educated entrepreneurs could accept me but that she thought the less educated ones might feel intimidated. I asked her if anyone from the group I visited had actually expressed discomfort with my presence or was this only a few leaders imagining problems when there were in reality no complaints. She didn't answer me. 

She told me she wanted to maintain a homogeneous group. I told her that scripture says there is "no Greek or Hebrew, male or female, slave or free", but we are one in Christ. I told her that, it would impossible for me to dilute their group since we live in China. If every Western businessman in Hong Kong joined, it still wouldn't make a dent. I am but a drop of water in the ocean.

She asked what I thought. I told her I thought she was wrong, but it was, after all, her organization. Her card says "founder and CEO", so she has the "say so". A great humorist once joked "I wouldn't want to join any organization that would accept ME." Well I guess I feel the opposite "I wouldn't want to join any organization that would NOT accept me." Sad though, that Christians can be this way. Of course, American Christians have had a terrible history of segregation and discrimination. It is said that the most segregated hour in America is 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning, the time when Christians worship. I should not then be surprised that some Chinese Christians struggle with the same prejudice.  This kind of thinking and behavior is not scriptural and doesn't please God. 

It makes sense to have homogeneous groups around culture and language. Our Filipino church worships in Tagalog and the pastor teaches in Tagalog. This is what our members need. That is a far cry from coming and telling someone who doesn't speak Tagalog "you are not welcome". When I attend our Filipino church I am welcomed and valued. I am someone to be cared for, not a potential problem to get rid of. When I attend Chinese churches it is the same way. If I didn't speak the language they might even try and sit someone next to me to help translate. I would be treated with dignity and love AND invited back.

I believe this decision is probably from the CEO and founder, the woman who visited me. She's the boss. I don't believe it is the members. I was actually invited by members and encouraged to attend. I hope the Lord will continue to use this organization and that someday the CEO will lead them in a direction more akin to God's heart.