Meet the Others

We are not alone… there are Others.

There are a couple of English corners in town that we attend regularly. An English corner usually isn’t a corner at all, it’s a room or a hall or a porch on a college campus that students meet to practice their English. These are fantastic opportunities to meet people who think a little outside the box and are interested in talking for a couple of hours. Though we don’t often share our whole story then and there, it is a great chance to meet someone and invite them personally to our weekly Bible study. This has been our primary source of attenders, and, thus, our primary source of converts and disciples.

Occasionally, another foreigner or two will show up to English corner to help the students. I can only guess at their motives. There was one young guy that consistently showed up to the English corner at a certain university, so I asked the other students about him. They all knew him as R.; he had been an English teacher at the school for a couple of years. Our paths didn’t cross until a couple of weeks ago, when one of our student-friends told us that it was R.’s last week here. So I made it a point to say hello to him that night to find out what his story was.

R. was sitting in a corner of the room with one of the students, talking in hushed tones. I approached him and introduced myself. R. is also from the States, a graduate of a well-known university. We made small talk for a few seconds, and then I asked him if he was a Christian. Charles Darwin would have had a milder reaction.

He got panicky! His eyes shifted wildly, he stuttered nervously, and finally managed to cough out quietly, “Yes… I am.” That’s no exaggeration. I asked him, “Are you here just to teach English, or do you have another agenda?” After ten uncomfortable seconds of flailing and gasping, I volunteered, “Do you not want to answer that question?” R. muttered, “I can’t really answer that. I’m not exactly comfortable talking about this at English corner.” Huh. Wonder what the answer is.

Employing all of my interrogation techniques, I managed to discover that R. has taught in this city for two years with an organization placing many Christian teachers in China, more than a dozen in our city. R. said that he was concerned about our workers and their openness about their faith at English corner. He also advised that we don’t get involved with any religious organization not recognized by the state, a.k.a. house churches. Finally, he gave me the name and phone number of his leader-type person. More on that meeting, later.

I can’t even descibe the terror R. showed as he told me all this. There wasn’t even anyone standing close to our corner! And someone that actually could understand us was further away! But apparently R. has just been told that there’s cameras and microphones hidden all over the place in China. That the police have nothing better to do than make sure no English teachers at his school are Christians! He has apparently NOT been told much about the book of Acts.

I can understand caution. I can understand the difference between recklessness and boldness. But none of his students know he’s a Christian! I know that, because they all come to our Bible study! And they don’t have a clue! What’s the point of investing two years into a place if you’re so scared, you can’t tell anyone that you’re a Christian? We’ve met ONE student that knows that R. is a Christian. (more on that later, too…) One of R.’s students invited our workers to go to R.’s going-away party. This girl, who has since come to our Bible studies and accepted Christ, told them, “You should come. He always seems so lonely. He doesn’t really have that many friends here.”

Anyway, we have taken to calling R.’s group the Others (more on them later…) So, we’re not alone. But we kinda are.

2 Comments on “Meet the Others”

  1. Ben July 15, 2007 at 8:14 am #

    First of all this is a great blog, I’ve enjoyed reading all that’s going on more in detail. People assume Christianity is completely illegal and even saying you’re a Christian puts you staying in the country in jeopardy. Keep up the good work. Just don’t tell everyone about Christ there before I’m able to get there!

  2. wagardner July 15, 2007 at 12:59 pm #

    I pray that God will continue to use you all and that others will learn from your boldness. We are preparing material right now about persecution and a Biblical stance on witnessing in closed countries. The Bible is pretty clear–we have to be who we are and talk about what we have seen and heard. I am just a friend but I am very proud of you.

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