We live in a city in China where there are very few foreigners. With our four blondie children, we get a lot of attention, which some of us appreciate more than others. Yesterday we went to play as a family at a nearby plaza in the warm November sunshine. Our kids suggested a game of “sharks & minnows,” a version of tag in a confined space. I knew our wild shrieks and running would attract attention, but we also needed to play! And sure enough, no sooner had the chase begun then a small crowd ebbed and flowed around us (and often within our game area, to the chagrin of my oldest son). Many spectators morphed into photographers, cameras out and clicking furiously. We’ve learned to simply let the photos happen, so we went on playing and laughing and chasing and tagging and sometimes squealing and falling. When we finally collapsed on the grass, I turned to wave goodbye to the few trailing photographers still around. One woman with a large zoom lens smiled sheepishly and thanked us for allowing the pictures.
As she walked away, my 12-year-old son grumbled in the background: “Why do they always have to get in our way and take pictures of us?!” I too have felt those feelings of wanting to just be left to our business without having to be the center of attention. So I was a little surprised when instead of commiserating, I began to voice a newly-born aspect of testimony about family. I felt to share that in a country where we’re restricted in sharing the Gospel to native Chinese in almost every possible way, this was a perfect and God-given means of sharing one of our most significant values: “The family is ordained of God.” Through our “wholesome recreational activities,” we were able to show that families are important. That families can love each other, can have fun together, can have joy even when they’re not perfect (and sometimes argue about rules of the game!). That families don’t have to be the same as everyone else’s. That families are part of what make it possible to grow and learn and become better. I don’t know if any of those exact points were evident to those who watched and documented our wild capers. But I do know that every single one of them left with a smile on their faces. And I felt blessed to be a part of God’s work that day in sharing a glimpse of His kingdom–one made up of family units, each unique but perfect for the work He has for them to do.