When I first met David he was a Ph.D. student in petroleum engineering. His English was fluent and he had even taken bit parts as an English speaker in Chinese films. We became fast friends, spending hours together discussing each other’s cultures and everything in between.
He knocked at my apartment one day without an appointment and when I opened the door it was to his very white face.
“I have been expelled!”
“Expelled?” I echoed. “Why!?”
David had no idea why. In Chinese culture, entry to a school or program is cause for celebration because if one is accepted, completion is assured. Neither David nor I had ever heard of a university student being expelled for any reason. Old professors had a lot of political power and were only replaced at death. Now that schools of higher education were required to raise most of their financial support, the old profs became entrepreneurs and their students were exploited. David was a high-achieving student but he didn’t enter into the prof’s personal scheme for making money.
I suggested that David ask his advisor for reasons for his expulsion. If no reasons were given then David should go to the department chair, then to the college dean. His last resort would be to go to the university vice president in charge of petroleum engineering (there are many vice presidents in Chinese universities, each in charge of some specific area.). David went to each of these men and discovered that the men above this professor were unwilling to offend him.
There was no precedent for what to do next, so we decided to use a Western strategy. I suggested that David write some resume letters selling himself to schools needing his skills and education. “Choose only those places you would like to go, where the offers most please you,” I advised. David thought I was overly optimistic but followed my suggestions and soon was receiving eager replies. I had told him I would pray that this situation would be turned for his good even though he was a Buddhist, and he was impressed with the effectiveness of prayer to the Christian God.
After judicious consideration of the several offers of employment, David chose a school where there were American teachers. We stayed in touch and he was delighted with his job and colleagues. Apparently one of the Americans had been observing David and conversing with him about his field of engineering because at the end of the school year he invited David to come to the States as a doctoral student with a full fellowship. David was thunderstruck. He called to tell me the news, nearly frantic with elation. “What if I had not been expelled?” he wondered.
In due time David came to America and earned his advanced degree with high honors. When his funding ran out he found an assistant professorship at a prestigious school of petroleum engineering. The school eventually ran into a financial crunch, so again David searched for a teaching position. Meantime, he got his American citizenship, was married with two little children to support.
He and his family were converted and baptized. Eventually he called to say he had found a job abroad, largely as the result of being a published author in an international journal of petroleum engineering. Now, years later, her is enjoying the benefits of being an American and enjoying the American dream as one who has paid his dues. God’s lavish goodness never ceases to amaze me.
Angels Watching Over Me
In our vulnerability God delights in protecting His own. One time I was trying to get across Beijing to have dinner with an American colleague. At a major bus connection I got on a minibus and told the ticket taker where I wanted to get off. Although several passengers repeated my destination for the ticket lady, she and the driver forced me off the bus several miles out of the city on the side of a busy limited access highway. To say I was dismayed would be an understatement. A man on the other side of the divided highway saw what happened and came to ask me where I wanted to go. He had a strong dialect and I couldn’t understand him but I had a map and showed him where I wanted to go. He understood and indicated that we should return to the bus terminal. As we walked along he must have realized that I was frightened of him because he chattered incessantly and was kind and patient with me. At the terminal I continued to walk on since he seemed to delay.
At a large five-way intersection with no traffic lights or policeman I hesitated, and again the man appeared. He helped me cross safely and continued to walk with me for more than an hour, still chattering reassuringly. At last we reached another major street with city bus service past my colleague’s school. Not all buses with the same number stopped at all the stops. I didn’t know that, but the man prevented me from boarding the first bus to arrive. I was puzzled as he struggled to explain the system, but finally the reason occurred to me and I was so grateful that he had taken the time to accompany me. He helped me to board the right bus and told the ticket taker where I wanted to go. It occurred to me that this man must surely be an angel! Again, the bus conductor ignored me when the bus stopped at my exit, so several passengers alerted me. I exited and stood, looking around the street. It was getting late and there were no pedestrians to ask for further help, but there was a policeman at a gate, so I walked over to ask for directions. I showed him the directions written in Mandarin and he recognized the address immediately. This is where you want to go, he motioned. And he actually walked with me to my friend’s door. This type of kindness occurred at least twice more and always humbled me. Father God knew my address and phone number, but He also knew where I was at any given time.
Dead Man in the Bathtub
Another time expatriates had arranged a baptism for new believers at a certain home where there was a bathtub. One of the new converts had been lead to the Lord by a lady who phoned him every day to see how he was doing. Phones are a good source of information for the Public Security Bureau and calls are monitored through a central office. This lady quizzed her new convert over the phone: who, what, when, where, and why. Meantime, the lady of the house we were planning to visit had a dream that a dead man was in her tub! She called the organizer and canceled the offer of her home for the baptism. Only later did we discover the phone conversations with the new convert, but Father God was watching over His little children.