Led by freelance photographer Gang Feng Wang, a group of us journeyed through the streets of Shanghai that have yet to be touched by urbanization. We got to look through the eyes of a man who has spent his whole life in this country, who has a deep appreciation for the average person and the beauty of everyday life in China. He told us about the history behind the buildings of his neighborhood, buildings that are a short time away from demolition. The buildings we walked through were once the homes of very wealthy Chinese families, one family to a large and ornate home. Today up to a dozen families will call one of these buildings home. Today the paint is peeling from the once lovely walls and grease stains the once immaculate white ceilings. In the past the homes were maintained by owners, but as the number of families sharing a home and using a single kitchen increased, efforts to preserve have been lost and decay is evident in the rusting bathrooms and irreparable furniture.
We got to meet some of the residents of the run down homes, who warmly welcomed us as we interrupted their card games and meals. We met a ninety year old woman with the shyest smile and sweetest demeanor. We gushed over a young woman and her precious little boy. The light of their joy gave such contrast to their deteriorating surroundings. It was beyond humbling. On any day these families, these elderly women and small children, could be told to leave. I honestly don’t know what they would do should that happen…
I left the tour with opened eyes and a new perspective of the average living situation in shiny Shanghai. I left with a determination to soon return with a bucket of Windex and towels, as well. One day a group of us will show up offering to help clean wherever we can. It may not keep the walls from being torn down eventually, but it may give the hearts of the people their some extra support. It is amazing how many opportunities there are to serve in this city, to be the active hands and feet of Jesus. I am so grateful to be having these experiences while I am here, remembering that each day is a chance to be a blessing to someone else and think less of myself. Please pray that I would be compelled to move and serve on behalf of the people here, in honor of the God who is worthy of all sacrifice.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Blessings from Shanghai,