Chinese Cults: Eastern Lightning Part II

“Hi, Onion!”

“Hey Xiajun, what are you having today?”

“I’ll take a cup of Brazilian this time,” I replied. “I haven’t had that in a few days.”

Within seconds the smell of freshly ground Brazilian coffee filled Havana. Havana was a coffee shop opened about a year previous by my friend Dragon. He was the first coffee shop owner in the city to roast his own coffee beans. He had a contact in Guangzhou that sent him coffee on the regular, and he was proud to have introduced this aspect of Western culture to the city of Longyan.

The fact that an American friend had started frequenting his shop only contributed to his sense of pride. Having an American drinking his coffee every couple of days told potential customers that his coffee was the real deal after all. The American got to practice speaking Chinese with his customers, and he got increased business. Win, win.

“Here it is,” said Onion, sliding the jet black Brazilian over the counter to me. “You know, it’s my birthday today.”

“Really? Happy birthday!”

Onion, along with Dragon, had followed in step with the typical Chinese practice of choosing a nickname that that sounded like their real name. Part of Onion’s Chinese name sounds like “onion” in Chinese, so the nickname stuck among his friends. He had been a friend of Dragon for a while, so when Dragon opened Havana, Onion was a great pick for a shopkeeper and barista.

“I have some friends here for my birthday just at the table over there,” Onion continued. “Feel free to go meet them and grab a slice of cheesecake.”

Cheesecake. He didn’t have to tell me twice! Finding cheesecake in China can be pretty rare, so I had no intentions of passing up a slice¬†plus the opportunity to make a few extra Chinese friends.

Grabbing my coffee, I began to head over and squeeze in some Chinese practice with some new faces.

“Hey, we’ve heard about you!” came a voice before I even reached the table. “You speak Chinese, right?”

Living in a smaller Chinese city like Longyan, my name often proceeded me. I had lived in the city for a little over two years, and was one of only about eight white people in a city of around a million. With my only American co-worker moving back to the States just a few months previous, I was the only one left that spoke Chinese.

“Sure do!”

“That’s awesome! Grab a bite of cheesecake,” said someone else. “We’re all Onion’s highschool friends. Take a seat.”

“Onion told me you are a Christian,” said the first voice.

“Yeah, that’s right,” I said, a bit taken aback. I was always glad to talk about my faith in Christ. That’s why I was in China, after all. But I was a little surprised that this person was so eager to talk with me about it.

“My wife is a Christian,” he continued.

“Oh, really? What about you?”

“I’m an atheist,” was the reply.

Strange, I thought. Even though most people my age in China were in fact atheist or agnostic, most of them would just say they didn’t believe in God. This was the first time in my experience that anyone had used the term “atheist” to describe themselves.

“Oh, ok. Well, does your wife go to church?”

“Yes, she goes to a house church. What about you?”

“I go to Xibi church over by West Mountain area. What house church is she at?” I asked, taking a bite of cheesecake.

“It’s over in the Phoenix Court area of town.”

“Ok.” I had heard that there were a handful of very small churches out that way meeting in homes, but I had never been to any of them.

The discussion slowly turned from churches to other things as others at the table jumped into the conversation. After about an hour or so it came time for me to leave.

“Hey, before you go, let me get your phone number. I’d like for you to meet my wife and some of her friends from church. Maybe we can get dinner together sometime. I think some of the brothers and sisters would be interested to meet you.”

“Sure, that would be great!” I said, taking out my phone. “My name is Xiajun, by the way. What’s your name?” I asked.

“My friends call me Rabbit.”

“Rabbit?” Another nickname.

“Yeah, you can call me Rabbit.”

We exchanged numbers, drank the last sips of our respective coffees, said good bye to Onion, and got on our respective motorbikes.

Putting on my helmet, a sense of accomplishment came over me. I now had an opportunity to make some new believing Chinese friends. Though I had been attending church for a while, I had yet to make much headway in spending time with Christians other than at church.

Hopeful, I sped away thanking God for the opportunity ahead. Little did I know that the opportunity wasn’t going to shape up to be exactly what I had in mind. In fact, I was soon to discover that even in a place like China, not all that claim Christ are true Christians…

This is part two in a series of posts about Eastern Lightning, also known as The Church of the Almighty God, which is a cult in China that stands in opposition to true believers there.


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