China's Upper Room: A Place of Blessing

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CWN.com - BEIJING, China -- Just a few miles east of Tiananmen Square is one of Beijing's most popular hangouts. The locals here call it Bar Street.

Its real name is Sanlitun. It is what you might call a resort for Beijing bar-goers: row after row of trendy bars, restaurants and dance clubs.

A few minutes south of Bar Street, tucked in a corner of an alley, is another establishment that's unlike any other in all of Beijing.

And like Bar Street, it too has become popular with the locals. It's called Upper Room.

Bing Chui runs Upper Room -- a restaurant that offers food, music and a message that some might find surprising in a place like Communist China.

Bing said, "I tell them that God loves them, I tell people that you can be close with God."

The setting is a small cozy room on the second floor of a two-story building. Dozens of tables, chairs, a couple of sofas and a kitchen -- staffed with some of the best chefs in town.

Bing started the Upper Room three years ago as part ministry outreach, part restaurant.

"I wanted to create a space that can be used by God," Bing said.

It's a place where people can share what's in their hearts, find encouragement and grow in a setting where ministry, food and music meet.

Grace, one Upper Room patron, said, "I've been here three times. I love the place. I love the atmosphere. It's quiet and relaxing."

And, apparently the food is also good. Upper Room has received numerous recognitions in local newspapers.

"The food is impressive and amazing," said a favorite patron, Vivienne.

Bing says that the key is to create an atmosphere that is safe for Christians and non-Christians alike.

"The point here is not to create a place where you intimidate people," he said, "because people may not go to church, but they would love to go to a restaurant."

The truth is that Bing has to be very careful when it comes to the kinds of messages he shares at this restaurant. This is, after all, the Communist nation of China, and talking about Christianity can always be a very touchy topic.

He said, "I'm not creating a place, a religious place -- I'm not. I'm creating a home outside your home."

The Upper Room is such a big hit with the locals that the Chinese government-run television station sent a reporter to do a story about the restaurant's growing popularity.

"I think God is being gracious to us," Bing said,

Friday evening's at the Upper Room is praise and worship night.

Bing starts by sharing inspirational stories like the one about the day a complete stranger walked into his home looking for a place to stay.

"There's a verse in the Bible that says that if you entertain strangers, you could be entertaining angels! God wants us to reach out to those who are in need," he explained.

For many of the guests tonight, this is their first exposure to the Gospel message.

Vivienne: Some of them I've never heard of, like the Christian stories.

CBN News: What do you think about them?

Vivienne: Well, I think they are interesting.

Upper Room patron Kirk said, "I loved the stories. They left an impression on me."

The intimate setting provides an opportunity to talk about Christ with friends.

Jang, another Upper Room guest, said, "This is my favorite spot at the bar. I like to sit here and talk about Jesus with the chefs, waiters and customers."

Bing says that not a day goes by when the physical and spiritual needs of his patrons are not being met.

The restaurant has also become a regular stop for foreign visitors.

Despite routine government crackdowns on Christians, a growing number of Chinese people are boldly proclaiming the message of Christ.

For Bing, Psalm 36, verse 8 serves as the basis of ministry at Upper Room.

He quotes, "They feast on the abundance of your house; God gives them drink from His river of delight."

Bing said, "I hope that it can be a place of blessing."

*Original broadcast April 4, 2007.

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