One truth that prevails across all cultures is the old phrase “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” This is particularly true in China. Loans can be issued, documents approved, businesses opened/closed, complaints investigated all on your connection to the person in charge at the moment. The word for this in Mandarin is 关系 or relational capital. You can only make new contacts when your关系 or relationships is passed on by the mutual acquaintance. Without relational capital almost nothing can be done.
I have seen this play out at the political and city wide level but I was able to have my own personal experience wit关系 this week. Friends of mine from my Sunday fellowship heard about a pregnant women clear across the country who needed help. Knowing no one personally in the city we was in, I reached out to my contacts to see if anyone knew of anyone who lived in that city and could possibly help this woman. After obtaining the email address for a Sunday fellowship leader in that city, I asked if anyone in his congregation to assist this woman. Immediately he responded with two names, one of a local organization who can help and the other of a fellowship member. As I was contacting the local organization (who I would never have heard about any other way because of security issues), I contacted Susan. A few minutes into the phone call she said that my last name sounded familiar and asked if I was related to my Aunt. Turned out this woman and my Aunt were language school classmates over 20 years ago. From there, the conversation flowed naturally and we devised a plan to visit this woman in need and then collect resources to help her in the future. The woman ended up being well cared for by this fellowship and local organization. My关系 via my Aunt lead the people down in this city to assist a random stranger from across the country.
It blew me away how quick to help these people were. They are following Him and doing what they can for the least of these in their city. I am sure they would have helped this woman if they discovered her without my phone call, but my involvement speed up the process. This week I am reminded about the power of the Church Universal. We have such a diverse group of people all over the globe that are called to love and serve sacrificially. I got to personally witness strangers in another city physically help when I could not. Friends back in America donated money to assist this woman with medical costs. Friends in Beijing collected donations to send down. I am so grateful to know such an incredible group of quick responders who are willing to help anyone in need.