Curious, Contentious, or Convicted?

Over the past couple of months, we’ve tried our best to develop as many evangelistic relationships with university students as possible. Most of our evangelism has also been exploration, as we try to learn the best ways to present the Gospel to someone who has been raised in a different culture, a different value set, and a different educational system. Whereas in many countries around the world, a missionary must combat the accepted religious order and spiritual understanding, in China and other Communist countries, we instead fight a battle against ignorance. The government has tried, with a large amount of success, to make spiritual truth about as relevant as invasion by space aliens. This has been their strategy: to make God irrelevant. A strategy that would work perfectly were it not for the conscience.

This vacuum of spiritual knowledge makes for some remarkable reactions to the Word of God. Now, like any other place on the Earth, a large number of the Chinese react to the Gospel with complete indifference. Their irrelevance-conditioning took. They couldn’t be less interested. They’d like to be your friend. They’d like to spend time with you. But they won’t give God the time of day. A friend of mine here, G., who I’ve prayed for a great deal, falls into this category. When I met him, I told him I was a Christian. That I taught the Bible. That I believed that Jesus was the Son of God. That He offered eternal life and forgiveness of sin. He would have been more interested if I was a garbage collector. Several of his friends have become Christians. He’s come to our Bible study twice. Completely unmoved.

Outside of the indifferent, though, there seem to be three main reactions to the Word. The first is CURIOSITY. We’re different. We’re Americans. We’re Christians. We look strange. We dress strange. We speak English. Their first couple weeks here, our workers would come to us excitedly and say, “I just met so-and-so, and I told him I was a Christian, and he started asking me tons of questions!” This really is remarkable for anyone who’s had a thousand American doors slammed in their face. But for someone who’s interested in America, or someone who wants to practice their English, this is completely logical behavior. Anytime we try to leave an English corner, we have to RUN. No matter what we’re talking about. You can say, “I have to leave now. I’ll see you later. Goodbye.” Their response? “What is your opinion of the coming United States election?” They’re just trying to get you to stay and keep talking. They’re trained to sap every drop of English practise out of you.

The second reaction is CONTENTION. Last Thursday at our Bible study, a guy named V. was giving one of our workers a hard time. So she brought him to me. He began to unload about belief in God being a way to control the masses, governments forcing conversions to Christianity, and the harm that spiritual focus does to the true problems of the world. He tried every way he could to get me to argue with him. The Word is a sword, and even in China, where everyone is supposedly hungry for the Word, there are plenty of arguments waiting to happen. (more later about V. and how we deal with the contentious…)

The third reaction is CONVICTION. Praise the Lord, each week at our Bible study, we’re seen people accept Christ. Just like the contentious and the curious, they ask lots of questions. But their questions are different. They want to know about their guilt. About eternity. About Jesus. Even about their sin. A., who’ll I’ll write about more soon, asked me the first week he was here what he had to do to become a Christian. He listened carefully, then repeated it back to me. He told me that he realized what a serious decision it was and promised to go home, read the Bible on the internet, and think about it carefully. He accepted Jesus as His Savior the next day. Last week, L. came to our Bible study for the second time. She barely broke eye contact with me during the whole lesson from John 3. She accepted Christ later that night after talking with one of our workers.

We must always ask the Lord for wisdom when dealing with these three categories. Here in China, we have a whole lot of curious, a handful of contentious, and a handful of convicted. Please pray with us that the Holy Spirit will use His Word to convict the curioius, silence the contentious, and save the convicted.

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