Walking through China’s history

by Luke, University DTS Student

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City

After visiting several other cities these last few weeks, we returned to Beijing. Since it's our second time here, we've had more time to explore the city and learn more of China's history. We visited the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Temple of Heaven. I hoped to see my artist friend again, too. I had bought a Chinese Bible and couldn't wait to give it to him.

The Forbidden City was quite the spectacle and very inspiring. Large temples loomed over huge expanses of courtyards with halls built in the center. This site was built in the beginning of the 15th century for the Emperors during that time. We walked for a long time and I was foolishly wearing my peasant shoes, but it was worth it. We saw a lot of interesting imagery and amazing architecture. I'm grateful that the Chinese people are so dedicated to preserving their history.

The Great Wall

Hiking the Great Wall

The next day we visited the Great Wall. Our tour guide was a young student named “Runner.” He was friendly and very knowledgeable. The section of the wall we visited was built right on the mountains. It was an incredible hike to get up there. We climbed about 780 steps, each of which were about 11 inches tall. It was some work, but the view was amazing. The wall is contrasted by the greater expanse of the surrounding beauty. The mountains, the river, and the trees all reminded me of home. It was nice to be away from the city, to enjoy some air away from the smog.

God’s creation always outshines what we can create.

Next, we visited the Temple of Heaven. This also was an incredible place with a lot of history. Constructed around the same time as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven was where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties met for annual ceremonies of prayer to heaven for good harvest. It is called a Taoist temple, but heaven worship predates the advent of the Taoist religion. Once we climbed the steps to the temple, some of us sang, some of us prayed, and others met and talked with people. As reflected on how this was a sacrificial temple, I thought of the song “The Stand.”

Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven

Lyrics from the song ran through my head:

“So what can I say,
What can I do?
But offer this heart O God,
Completely to You.”

This really hit the nail on the head. We can offer any sacrifice to God, but if our heart isn’t given freely and regularly, there is little relationship with Him.

On the last day of our stay in Beijing, I tucked the Bible in my back pocket and walked to my artist friend's shop again. He was busy reorganizing his art with his wife and young daughter. He was surprised to see me again. I explained to him that I just wanted to come in to say hello to him and his family. (I actually purchased some more of his art, and he gave me what he called “a good friend price.”)

After talking for a while, I handed the Bible to him as a gift. He gratefully accepted it with a smile. I feel so honored by how much he opened up his life to me. I am blessed!