Chunsun (meaning “spring bamboo”) is a collective pseudonym for writers ministering to Chinese people in sensitive situations.
Moving to China, experienced teachers warned us: be prepared to be the only light in dark rooms. While there is a chance you may have a brother or sister among your students, most likely there will be none.
This is what we expected; we were ready for it. When we arrived, however, we found something quite different. The Father was already at work in our city and our classrooms, much more than we expected. Rather than being the only light in dark classrooms, we found other lights amidst the darkness – students the Father claimed as his own long before we arrived.
Where are these students coming from? Surely, the veteran teachers who warned us were not wrong? No, they were not wrong, but the work of the Father is changing this place, down to the faces in the classrooms where we teach.
On my first day of class, I briefly introduced who I am, where I am from, and what I believe. After saying I was a Christian, I heard a voice pipe up from the back of the room. "Oh! Me too!"
Later, my wife came to eat with several students and me. Walking to lunch, a different student dropped behind the group and looped her arm in my wife's. “What do you believe?” the student asked. “Why do you believe it?” As my wife answered her questions, the student's eyes lit up. She squeezed my wife's arm tighter. “I believe that too!”
Suddenly, we weren't simply walking with a student; we were walking with a sister.
These students are an encouragement to us in our work; but more importantly, we strive to be an encouragement to them in their work. One student told us that she is the only believer in her dorm. At times, the other students question what she is doing, reading her Bible so much. But she is a light in a place where we cannot be, and she has conversations that we cannot have.
I had the privilege of hearing of one such conversation. At lunch with her and another student, I listened to them talk about what they believe.
“I love English," the other student said, proud of the fact. "English is my religion.” She wasn't interested in anything else. The believing student jumped in and said, “But God created English. If you love English, you should love the God who created it."
This was not work I was doing; it was work the Father was already doing, work he already had been preparing workers to do.
We cannot live in the dorms, or be in every class, or converse about the Bible in the students' native language. But we can encourage our brothers and sisters who can do these things. Earlier this year, we had several of these students over to hear from them about their experiences as believers on campus.
One student honestly told us that it is hard. Sometimes it is discouraging. "I have to make decisions between going to church and making my roommates happy," she said. "Sometimes, I do not have the energy to be a part of all that my roommates are doing and also spend the time that I need to at church and in the Bible."
Another student told us that he has had to learn to live with others. Last semester, he struggled with a roommate about sharing their space. This semester, he realized that he was causing problems as well, and rather than continue fighting, he began to pray for his roommate. He followed up this prayer by going to his roommate to ask for forgiveness. It was hard, he said, but it was the right thing to do. And since then, he has seen much of the tension go out of their relationship.
As these students live in the dorms and interact daily with their classmates, they have many more opportunities than we do to share the Truth. We do our work: hosting events, teaching classes, having lunches and dinners to talk together. But they reach areas that we cannot.
We know that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. How much we rejoice then to meet other workers! We are not the only workers in this harvest field; we are not venturing into some distant land untouched by the Father's hand. He was at work here before we arrived.
As you think of the workers you know in China, be praying that God will show them the fellow believers around them. Pray for those fellow believers, just as you pray for the workers you know. The Father is doing work here in a myriad of ways, and we are privileged to have relationships that allow us to see some of those ways.
And so we continue working, even when the harvest is difficult, and the road is rough. We continue because we have seen the Father's work through those who came before us. We continue because we know that we will not remain the only lights in a dark room, and that there is no corner of this Earth that the Father's light cannot touch.