Some years ago, “Joe L” and five other students from his college went to China on an exchange program. Since Joe had a degree in physical science, he was assigned to teach at a college of physical culture on the outskirts of Beijing while he studied Mandarin.
Things began smoothly enough for the six Americans, but before long some of them were returning to the United States. The rigors of living in China were too much to handle. One couldn’t tolerate the restrictions of his personal freedom. Another was expelled for immorality. And a couple of others were dismissed for bad behavior. By the middle of the year, Joe was the only American left.
About this time three Chinese students approached him to find out what made him so different. “You’re not like the others. Why is that?”
What an opening! Joe was tempted to stop what he was doing and answer their question right then. Knowing they would be more relaxed in a home setting, he invited them to come to his dorm room that night. That night, not only did the three show up, but several others came with them to find out what made Joe tick. Joe began to explain how Jesus made all the difference in his life.
Over the course of several weeks, Joe led three of these students to faith in Christ and began discipling them. These young believers exhibited strong evidence of new life in Christ. But at the end of the school year, Joe’s contract ended and he had to leave China. He was extremely concerned. What would become of these new disciples? Could he ever return? He figured there was little hope of that. His extra-curricular activities could not have gone unnoticed. He flew home reluctantly.
But soon after he returned to the U.S., a letter arrived asking him to return the next school year to take a regular teaching contract. Clearly, the authorities felt his integrity and quality of work made his Christian influence worth the risk. So Joe returned.
When he stepped off the plane that fall, Chao, one of three he had discipled, was waiting for him. With a huge grin he introduced Joe to two new friends. One of them Chao had led to the Lord while Joe was gone. Later that evening, when they were alone, Chao asked Joe, “Do you have any materials? I want to teach Deng.” A great start to his second year!
During his second year, school administrators asked Joe to teach a course on American holidays. They explained that 60 Chinese exchange students were going to America, and they needed to know something about American culture.
“There’s no way I can talk about American holidays without discussing Christianity,” Joe responded. “I can’t explain Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving without mentioning Jesus or God.”
“That’s all right,” they answered. “Whatever it takes.”
When the class began, not only the 60 exchange students showed up, but another 60 people, including university staff!
Later, campus administrators asked Joe if he would be willing to help them recruit more English teachers. Joe responded that he would be very willing to do so. Then the leader added, “Be sure you get more people just like yourself.”
(Joe still lives in China today, has since married a Chinese Christian, and plans to spend his life there.)
— Don Hamilton, “Tentmakers Speak,” (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1987), pp 4-6