It was mid July and I was speaking to a group of Chinese students about what happened on this same day in 64 AD when Nero started the fire that burned Rome. Because he blamed it on the Christians, a great deal of persecution followed the event. I could not help but think about how many other people in this country of China had faced the same sort of persecution for their faith. Yet the room where I spoke (I can’t reveal much detail here) was packed despite the excessive heat, overcrowding, and lack of proper air-conditioning. These students desperately wanted to learn about the Scripture.
While things have changed in China, it is still a communist country and a foreigner like me was not allowed to teach in an illegal (yet acknowledged) school. I was a little nervous at times, but thought that if these people were willing to take the chance then I could do the same. They, after all risked jail. I doubted that they would arrest an American (but I didn’t know for sure).
It was clear that most of the students were poor even by Chinese standards. Yet they saw my coming as a great and wonderful opportunity to learn. In other teaching situations I usually hear begging from students to be let out early. Here I heard genuine requests to be kept late. I taught from 8:30-5:30 each day (with a lunch break) and the students would come back at night to study what I had taught during the day.
I don’t think that I have ever felt more loved or appreciated by a group of students than I did in China. On the last day the translator said to me “the students have a gift for you.” I was afraid that they had taken what little money they had and purchased me something but what I received was much more valuable. They wanted to sing for me a Chinese blessing on my work and travels. It was a very moving experience.
Yes, I saw the great wall, which was spectacular. I witnessed amazing Chinese acrobats. I walked on Tianamen square and entered the Forbidden City. Yet nothing was so amazing as what God is doing in Beijing. Please pray for my friends in China. They are beautiful children of God.
This is the first of several blogs about my visit to China. I’ll tell more about some of the customs and culture (public spitting, crowds everywhere, beautiful countryside) in my next post.