Student shares the language of God's love
As a child, China was absolutely the last place I ever wanted to be led. Standing in the middle of Tiananmen Square in Beijing this summer among hundreds of Chinese people seemed unreal. Not only did traffic stop along the avenue of eternal peace, like it does every evening at dusk for the lowering of the nations red and yellow flag, but every single person that I walked by was nice enough to stop whatever they were doing just to stare at me. Never have I felt so freakishly uncomfortable.
The seven of us were deep in thought as we walked under watchful eyes. Just 13 years ago in the summer of 1989, on the very pavement that I now found myself standing, several Chinese protestors lost their lives as the military opened fire with machine guns and rolled in with armored tanks. To this day, the square is still heavily guarded by military soldiers.
On the south side of the square is Mao Zedong's Mausoleum, in which you can view the body of China's well-known communist leader that lies in a refrigerated glass case. Before we began our walk, our team leader warned us of the dangers of talking about Christianity in this location, especially to those who approached us with good English speaking skills. Never have I felt such anguish of heart to share my faith openly with those who have never heard of God's love, but for the time being I could only pray.
For the rest of my six and a half weeks in China I continually wrestled with these conflicting feelings. My first reaction to the struggle was to believe that the Chinese people did not know what freedom really was. I was filled with anger because of the oppression that the government seemed to be using to control people. I was also confused by the people's seemingly ignorant responses of support and contentment with their government. My western values of democracy, individualism, and freedom left me wandering, ashamedly, if these people could even understand the love of Christ.
Culture shock is a very realistic part of traveling to foreign places. In the excitement of seeing and experiencing new things you also come into contact with values and ways of life that contradict everything you believe to be true and right. Differences that you do not want to accept or live with.
The word difference has several meanings including a distinction, dissimilarity, controversy, dispute and even discrimination. But the final definition caught my attention. The remainder after a number has been subtracted (Mathematics). What causes us to see these differences? Why so often do we subtract those things we do not like about others or the way they live their lives and then think of them as the remainder of what is left? Why do our relationships seem to be filled with more mathematical equations than the love of God?
Slowly this summer as I got to meet Chinese Christians and to see the way they lived their lives for Christ I came to realize that true freedom can only be found in Christ. His love crosses oceans, cultural barriers and my own selfishness.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Oversees and cross-cultural mission trips are a wonderful way of allowing God to use you to further his kingdom. It is a life changing experience no matter where you go.
I encourage anyone even remotely interested in this kind of mission trip to prayerfully consider participating in NIVS or any of the other short term mission trips offered by our campus. Never before would I have imagined that I would be led to spend my summer teaching English in China.
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." 2 Corinthians 2:14
Posted on Fri, September 13, 2002
by Rusty Smith, ECHO guest writer