I thank God that I feel much better physically since I switched to day shift last spring. I asked the Lord how I could reach more students at The Ohio State University and decided to post a sign on the bulletin board for a Bible study in the international graduate student dorm. I taught the first class last month and was surprised that three men came and no women. Two of the men, Min and Park, are from Korea and getting their Ph.D. All three listened intently to the class because they have never had any exposure to the Bible.
At the same time, one of the elders at church began teaching a Bible class in the married students’ apartments for three Korean women, so we decided to switch classes. The women listened well as I taught them slowly and carefully in English. They are learning English so sometimes communication is challenging, but we both ask God to help us understand His precious word and are making progress. I recently read a helpful book about their culture called Korean Patterns by Paul Crane who was a missionary in Korea for years.
I also now have a Bible Club for children in my new home and am delighted to discover I have many Japanese neighbors who work at the nearby new Honda auto plant. The plant brings their engineers with their families from Japan to the USA for several years at a time to teach the Americans how to build the cars. The wives stay at home to raise their children. The parents want their children to learn English since they attend American public schools, so they readily send them to Bible club to help with their English. The children listen so eagerly. I pray they will receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior as well as learn English.
Min recently told me that after being closed to outsiders since 1949, China is once again letting a few foreigners visit in tour groups or teach English. I saw an ad in one of my nursing journals for a nursing tour of China in June 1986 for 16 days. As I recalled all the missionary biographies I have read about Hudson Taylor, Isobel, Kuhn, and J.O. Fraser from the China Inland Mission, I asked the Lord if He wanted me to visit China on this tour? I asked my director if I could have three weeks off to go on the tour. She agreed but declined to give me any educational days, so I must take four days off without pay since I don’t have quite enough vacation time. So I sent in my registration with my deposit which included trip cancellation insurance.
One of the Koreans introduced me to a visiting linguistics professor, Mr. S. from Beijing. After meeting Mr. S., I shared the gospel with him and invited him to the main Bible class on campus. He has come three weeks in a row and said he wants to attend regularly. He also volunteered to give me private Chinese lessons at his home and said I could learn 500-1000 phrases over the next eight months.
I learned there are four tones in Mandarin Chinese which is what they speak in mainland China where I’m going. (They speak Cantonese in Hong Kong and Taiwan.) The word has a totally different meaning depending on the tone you use. I think my music background helps. Mr. S. said I’m making good progress, but I feel like I’m going about the speed of a turtle. I’m not even attempting to learn how to read or write the characters since I only have five months before I leave. I’m glad they use the Pinyin system which uses the 26 English letters to write out the Chinese words like they sound.
Mr. S.’s wife has started attending the Korean women’s Bible class with me weekly. She doesn’t speak much English, but she is trying to learn. I was delighted when she memorized John 3:16 in both Chinese and English.
I wrote to a Christian couple who teach English in western China and hope to visit them while on the tour. Their prayer letter began, “Please….do not publish, do not post, but do pray…Also, please don’t share this letter with a visiting scholar or exchange student from China. We have already seen someone punished severely for helping a foreigner do something not sanctioned. This letter was hand-carried from China.”
Only the Lord knows how many Chinese Christians have been tortured, imprisoned, and killed since 1949. But word is leaking out that now there are millions of believers despite the promotion of atheism by the communist government. How I pray for these believers to be strong in the Lord and that I will meet some to encourage one another in the faith.
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44 NKJV)
I had Mr. S. translate an English gospel tract for me to take with me. I also ordered 50 Chinese-English Gospels of John to give out as gifts. My parents gave me a beautiful book on China from the National Geographic Society that has over 400 photos. I love to read about this ancient fascinating culture.
Over the next posts, I will tell about my nearly canceled journey to China. Over the years, the Lord has brought many Chinese people into my life, especially university student scholars. I have had wonderful opportunities to share the gospel with some and have had the joy of witnessing several receive Christ as their Savior. They always become excited when I pull out my photo album from 1986, a glimpse of life before they were born. Few Chinese nationals could afford cameras then, so their parents usually do not have many photos to show them.
Several of the Bible Club children also received Christ as their Savior and then returned to Japan with their parents. They are now in their late thirties. I pray they are worshiping our Savior and growing in His grace.
Min and Park both received Christ and returned to Korea after receiving their Ph.D. For several years, I received Christmas cards from them and was delighted when each told me God had given him a Christian wife. How wonderful It will be to worship the Lord together for all eternity.