Dear Praying Friends:
In previous articles on Reaching Chinese Worldwide, I have stressed the strategic value of befriending Chinese living outside of Greater China. We have seen that this large group of people includes several hundred thousand students and scholars, many of whom return to exercise positions of great influence in their society. Even if they don’t go back for many years, they are in constant contact with their family and friends at home, and often either make short visits or have their parents stay with them for as long as a year. In other words, they form a bridge to China even while living overseas. Outside of China, they are relatively free from surveillance; open to learning about their host culture, including Christianity; eager to make friends with non-Chinese; and often quite willing to investigate the claims of Christ. With many restrictions on Christian activity still in place within China, extending a warm welcome to Chinese in your area might be the most risk-free way for them to become acquainted with the Gospel.
For Christians, the presence of these strangers in our midst presents an obligation to welcome them and demonstrate to them the truth and love of God by word and deed. Just as the Old Testament Hebrews were commanded to care for the aliens among them, because they were once aliens in Egypt, so we must open our hearts to people a long way from home. They are, especially at first, missing their family and friends; struggling to adapt to a new language and culture; at a loss as to how to live in a different society; and sometimes very anxious and afraid. How can we not treat them as our neighbors with a claim on our love?
There is no one way to reach these people, of course. A variety of options exist for reaching out to them. Hospitality. The most obvious route is to open our doors to people from China. You can register with your local university to be a “host” to Chinese students, or simply make friends with the ones you meet at work or school. You don’t have to invite them to live with you, or eat dinner with you once a week! Monthly contacts will suffice, especially since your new friend is probably even busier than you are! Away from home, they would love to be part of your family, not just for meals, but on outings and during holidays. A little bit of your time will go a long way. Literature: Many resources exist to communicate the message of the Gospel to Chinese in their own language. You can order these from Ambassadors for Christ (800-624-3504). The operator will answer in Chinese, but will switch to English as soon as you say, “Hello.” Ask for literature suitable for people from either China or Taiwan (they use different types of Chinese characters). In particular, bilingual Bibles and apologetic booklets written especially for intellectuals can be very effective. Cooperation with others: For greater effectiveness, work with your own church’s international student ministry (or start one!); local campus ministries, especially International Students, Inc.(ISI); and Chinese churches in your area. It often takes a team to spin a web of loving influence. Academic conferences: Many scholars travel from Greater China to attend academic meetings overseas. We have been involved in several of these conferences, and find them to be excellent venues for building new relationships built upon common interests.
Pray for us:
In addition to our involvement with our church’s ministry to internationals in Charlottesville, Dori and I have other opportunities. We still serve as advisers to the Chinese Christian Fellowship at U.Va., especially the leaders. Last night we were guests of a newly-arrived graduate student, who also invited his Christian professor. This afternoon we are going to a picnic for a group of nurses visiting from Taiwan. Dori is leading the wife of a graduate student from Beijing through the Westminster Shorter Catechism (in Chinese). Dori also meets weekly with another woman, who also helps me read Confucius’s Analects in Chinese. I have a weekly luncheon appointment with her husband. I enjoy preaching in Chinese churches and fellowships - monthly in a local Chinese church, and occasionally in places like Chapel Hill, NC, and Princeton, NJ. I have also taught Chinese-language short-term seminary courses. Randall & Connie Chan use creative ways to touch the lives of Chinese in Cambridge, England. Connie teaches piano to children, with whom she often has a chance to share the Gospel. Christian literature on the tables in the sitting room provide parents with something to read while waiting for their children, and Randall often finds ways to engage them in conversation. The Chans play a leading role in the international outreach ministry of their local church. At a barbecue not long ago, most who came were Chinese, many of them Connie’s Randall’s part-time work as an interpreter brings him into contact with Chinese at a time of great need, and he also has opportunities to provide counsel and coaching to Chinese Christians and seekers. Call us or visit our web site (www.chinainst.org) for more ideas about how to manifest the love of Christ to the people who have just given us the most spectacular Olympic games in history!
In His grace,