Friends in China

An African Brother

A. was a passionate believer with an amazing story. He was a little goat herder and by chance a local teacher discovered that he was very intelligent. With her recommendation, the government invested in his education and sent him to Russia to learn the language and study engineering. Officials changed their minds and decided they needed dental surgeons, so they sent him to Beijing to study Mandarin after which he was transferred to Wuhan to study dentistry. But A. never forgot his beginnings and God’s plans for his life. He also had a strong sense of justice which caused him serious trouble.

A. and I spent quite a few weekend hours talking. I had so much to learn about other nationalities and their journeys with the Lord. We attended the same weekday worship group and I found out that the Russian students in Beijing were violent. The dorm rooms didn’t have locks and the Chinese police wouldn’t come into the building because they were afraid of the Russians. A. and his African roommate were very afraid for their safety since occasionally there were murders in the dorm. A. asked me to pray for their safety so I asked the Lord to set a Big angel at their dorm door to keep them safe. I prayed that the angel would be visible to human enemies as a huge warrior with a cowhide shield and tall spear and a cruel-looking face. Weeks passed and A. and his roommate said nothing. Finally one day the roommate told me they had been left alone and I revealed my prayer request. The young man looked shocked and said nothing more although he looked thoughtful. I had to laugh.

After two years of language study A. was transferred to Wuhan to a teaching hospital to study dentistry. A.’s nation paid for their students’ food and housing but the Chinese withheld food and did not heat the buildings. A. lead a protest which in China can get you arrested. The protest was broken up but A.’s food was withheld. He is a poor communicator and although we wrote letters, he didn’t say one word about his dire situation. Meantime, I felt that I would like to send him about 1,000 Yuan a month. Chinese hate how foreigners help each other and I couldn’t get bank money orders or postal money orders, so at last I sent registered letters with cash. When I saw A. briefly at the end of the spring semester his first year in Wuhan he was very thin and just commented that if it hadn’t been for my letters, he would have starved. A. calls me Mom but I am very unworthy of such a title for he is certainly my spiritual superior in every way. A. is now a teaching professor specializing in children’s dental surgery in his home nation.

He got married in January, 2013, and a year later in January he and his wife had a baby boy.  A. was ecstatic.  Then in 2014 I had the impression that he and his wife had some difficulties so I carefully emailed him – we generally don’t email at all – and he answered that I had the correct impression. I’ve heard nothing more and realize that he is in a dangerous place so I just pray as I am lead.

Charles and Diana

(Chinese students choose their own English names, and some are pretty unusual.)

I decided to eat in a student lunch room with a group of students which included Charles and Diana.  Charles was as nervous as a sparrow and about as thin.  One evening he came, looking harried, to tell me he was  taking a western tranquilizer, and had been for some time.  He was the third generation of a former land-owning family who lost their fortunes in 1949 at the Communist takeover.  He described being jeered at and ridiculed in school, and could never gain good grades.  He had to take the college entrance exam three times before getting into a normal school (similar to American junior college) from which he transferred to university where I met him.

Charles appeared to have some nutritional deficiencies so I began urging him to change his eating habits.  As he added protein to his diet he started  gaining weight and becoming calmer.  He had a pervasive attitude of hopelessness that bordered on self-destruction, but he didn’t want to hear about the Solution to his problems.  I noticed that he had talked with a Canadian tour group (Christians), so perhaps the seed would bear fruit.

Eventually this young man was able to come to America to earn a certificate in his chosen field.  He married Diana when she came to join him and she eventually obtained her certification, also.  Charles and Diana both are now believers.  He called and we had long chats by phone.  Someone loaned him a nice car to drive from the East Coast to visit me one weekend so I took him to yard sales, a fast food joint, and we laughed like sillies over shared experiences in China.

Charles and Diana finally returned to China where they are working in their chosen fields. Rarely does Charles call me and he is not permitted to email me, but I believe he and Diana are faithful in their walk with Jesus.



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