A Dream

I awoke early one morning with this dream. I was walking through a park and two of my female ancestors were walking together behind me. I was carrying a ketchup bottle,  anointing trees and benches. My two ancestors had a plastic bag with ketchup from my bottle and were also anointing objects here and there.  A large yellow public bus turned down the street we were walking on, so I quickly turned up a sidewalk leading to a modern office building, hiding the ketchup bottle in my coat. Thinking the bus had time to pass, I turned to exit the building and noticed it had turned to rubble. As I walked out, the dim outline of a dead lioness caught my eye in the debris. Outside, the day had turned gray and my two ancestors had disappeared.

I knew this dream had significance, but just what I did not know, so I asked Abba to tell me. Ketchup could represent fake anointing or a religious spirit from earlier in my adult life. I was surrounded with religious traditions and tried to please by showing religious piety.

It seemed that the two ancestors were meant to be real and sure enough, Abba began to tell me that they had participated in stealing my birthright as the eldest in my family. Being the family genealogist I knew exactly what Father was telling me about the older  ancestor but had never thought about those implications beyond her unjust actions toward my earthly father. What she did to my dad definitely effected my life, too, although I hadn’t considered that. So, quickly, I forgave her and canceled her debt. Then I asked for restoration of my rightful blessing.

The other individual had denied me part of my birthright in a more direct way. I remembered her unkind remarks but, again I had forgiven her. I hadn’t considered the implications of her choices and asked Father to restore what had been stolen.

So the precious Holy Spirit came to heal woundedness I had encountered as an adult. All He had taken me through up to this point had been wounds from childhood. As I conversed with Abba I asked if I could speak to the lioness and He and the Holy Spirit were pleased that I thought to ask. I commanded the lioness to rise and be healed. She stood up and gave herself a good shaking to get rid of the rubble and dust. Then she walked out of the ruined building casually as if nothing had taken place there at all.

I had to ask for help in understanding what the bus stood for and its bright yellow color. I was told that the bus represented a coming high quality ministry and yellow represented Hope. That wasn’t a complete surprise, for I had sensed a new opportunity looming on the horizon, but the time and place will be Abba’s choosing. Meanwhile, He has placed me in my Bridegroom’s lap to learn how to rest, to be still, and listen. Not an easy lesson for one so busy all the time with one project or another. But I’m finding that stillness is a lesson of its own, bringing that deeper submission and intimacy I have yearned for.

 

Meeting the People

School-Sponsored Holidays

Chinese universities often plan trips for their foreign students and teachers.  These were wonderful learning opportunities for us because we traveled by car and bus into rural areas, stayed in Chinese hotels, and ate in Chinese hotel dining rooms in rural areas.  Riding with a Chinese driver increased my appreciation for life in a more orderly society.  I learned to take a book and keep my eyes on it while traveling, or ride in the back so I could look at the countryside without watching the road.  Many times after getting back to our school we teachers would escape to our respective apartments for the evening.  Eventually we confessed to each other that the poor conditions of the rural areas broke our hearts and we were hurrying away to weep.

One of my favorite places to visit was Mount Taishan.  One fall there was an international mountain climbing race halfway up the mountain.  My university entered me without my knowledge then proceeded to twist my arm to take part.  At last I agreed and found it to be less strenuous than I expected.  There was another foreign woman who was physically unable, her university having also coerced her.  The Chinese were giving her oxygen and half carrying her up the mountain steps.  She won the race!  Later this race was publicized in the China Daily, international English language newspaper, as an “international event attracting participants from around the world”.

Another time the university Foreign Affairs Office took their foreign teachers and foreign students on a short tour of Inner Mongolia led by one of many tour agencies.  In a large northern town we met a German girl traveling alone who asked if she could join us.  We made her welcome but the FAO refused to allow her to join us.  She didn’t speak any Mandarin and we were quite sympathetic, so several of us pooled our money to help her rent hotel rooms with us and buy train tickets.  It was impossible to buy an extra ticket on the train to return to Beijing, however, so I gave her my ticket and said I would stay behind until tickets became available.  Our FAO was livid because this reflected on their ability to care for their foreign guests, so two of them grabbed my arms and conducted me aboard the train.

To my surprise the entire group of Japanese and Korean students studying Mandarin at our university sought me out to express admiration for my courage in helping the stranger.  But I knew from my first months in China how terrified I would have been and vulnerable to cheats had I been in this girl’s situation.  While my language skill level was low, my knowledge of the culture wasn’t bad and even though I wasn’t as brave as it seemed, I was more able to take care of myself than she was.  How could I do otherwise but help her?  The outcome was that someone was able to buy an additional ticket and I also had a bed to sleep on that night.

Meeting the People

One of my favorite memories while traveling happened in Xian.  I had been walking several hours and was quite weary, so I sat down to rest on a building ledge where some elderly people were soaking up the winter sun.

To my surprise one of the old ladies scooted over and whispered, “Hello,” in perfectly good English.

“Hello!”  I echoed.  “How is it you speak English without an accent?”

She whispered her story of growing up in Shanghai and attending a missionary school where the language was English.  During the Great Cultural Revolution her family, being educated and able to speak English, was forced to the countryside near Xian.  This revelation seemed to revive the fear she felt, so she cut the conversation short and moved away.  I can still feel the surprise of hearing her soft greeting.

In another more tragic case, I met a concert pianist trained in a major city, who also spoke flawless English, having been educated in a missionary school.  He and his family were sent to work in the countryside.  After the Great Cultural Revolution he was put in charge of teaching music to peasant elementary school teachers in a closed area.  This “rehabilitation” seemed totally inadequate to me, but I realize that totalitarian leaders fear intellectuals.

Connections

At the close of my fourth semester I was told that foreign teachers could only stay two years, so one of my Chinese colleagues graciously found another university for me.  I didn’t have to search for a position again in all my years in China because the Chinese system of connections works well.  If people know someone is looking for a job, they will offer information about openings and there will be plenty of references.

This works equally efficiently in reverse.  For example, the father of a student had offended an official.  In retaliation the official prevented my student’s father from finding any other work in his local area.  The student, a girl, was then responsible for the welfare of her whole family.  As you might imagine, one should be careful not to offend another because of the system of connections.  If the net is damaged even slightly, the tear can unravel until relationships are strained and may eventually turn hurtful.

Displaced Land Owners

During the Communist takeover in 1949 landowners were dispossessed.  One of my students was the grandson of a landowner.  He related how his grandfather had made him promise to recover the family lands and possessions if there were ever an opportunity.  My student was merciless in the execution of his “business” as a gang leader, selling protection much as Al Capone did during the 1940s in America.  Possibly this young man needed a mother-confessor because he often told me about his extracurricular activities and my stomach turned.  When I presented Jesus’ claims on his life he was deeply touched and I could see the longing in his eyes, but he said there would be no place to hide if he became a believer.  Even abroad, the Chinese mafia has an extensive network and he would be hunted down if he left the gang.  I respected his need to think through Jesus’ claims and make his own decision, for if he chose the Lord he would need the strength of personal conviction when former friends became enemies.

In another case, a student began noticeably to lose weight and I inquired after his health.  He told me that he was the grandson of a former landowner and was tormented in his thoughts and dreams at night.  He asked me to make him a tape of my voice speaking to him that he could play at night when he was so restless.  When I explained the Source of peace in my voice he harshly refused to accept a tape of such ideas as there being a Creator of the universe or His personal concern for individuals.  So I honored his wishes and spoke only of peace to him on the tape, convinced that the Word would accomplish its purpose whether or not it was recorded on a cassette.  In God’s own time and His own gracious way He brought  this troubled young man to the loving One who brings peace several years after he graduated from school.

Earning the Right to Speak

Many Chinese tend to trust foreigners with secret feelings that they cannot share with other Chinese.  Thus, it is a privilege to listen quietly and respectfully.  I wait for them to give me permission to speak of the One who gives peace through forgiveness of immorality and bitterness.  (There is no word in Chinese that can be directly translated “sin”)  It is critical that the foreign visitor earn the right to speak into the Chinese heart, however.  Mere words will not make the impact necessary for deep, lasting change. Only Love and respect can make a place for trust in friendships.  It is important to delete religious jargon and learn to use common words when speaking to those whose English is their second language.

If the foreigner shows any compassion and sympathy at all, he will receive God-given opportunities to listen and respond with Christian integrity.  One time on a train a Chinese man sat down opposite me in the dining car and offered to buy my lunch.  He then proceeded to unburden his heart concerning the moral decay with which China is wrestling. Communism, Buddhism or Daoism are inadequate philosophies to undergird a nation because there are no absolutes.  A society that subscribes to the philosophy that life evolved from lower forms creates gods with man’s fallen, cruel nature.  Such supernatural creatures are inadequate to provide the moral leadership for a peaceful, orderly society.

The man continued to explain that law in Chinese culture is based on the decrees of the political leader, who is above the law.  Everyone, then, aspires to be above the law.  Chinese leaders hold up folk heroes in a continuous search for role models, but in the absence of absolute doctrines, society is unstable.  Western culture and law, on the other hand, have been traditionally based on biblical absolutes that give structure to society. (Certainly that is failing now, globally.)

Building on his comments about social stability in America, I responded.  Christianity provides a foundation upon which to build a person, a family, a nation because there is a Creator-God who is absolutely good and His character is the moral absolute of the universe.  Nor is He aloof from human affairs.  In preparation for the coming of God’s son, Jesus, He prompted scribes through man’s early history to write about Himself and His character so that we could know Him.  One part of this writing was the Ten Commandments upon which western law systems are built.  Christianity need not search for role models. Jesus Christ, God’s only son, came at great sacrifice to take the punishment fallen man deserves in order to restore us to fellowship with Himself.

When the man on the train finished his meal he thanked me for listening and giving intelligent responses and handed me his business card.  A Deputy Communist Party Secretary of a major city in China!  It has been my privilege to meet national personalities as well as those known only to the Father on trains, along the streets, in their homes and listen to their dreams, their heartaches and disappointments.  It has been a privilege to offer a precious Solution, in the person of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ to the many hurting and disappointed hearts I’ve met.

My first year in China was meant by the enemy to so wound and disable my spirit that I would be incapable of listening with love and compassion as a representative of the One who sent me.  That struggle never abated, but the enemy could not win because greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.  It is not by might nor power but by His sweet Holy Spirit that anything is accomplished for the kingdom.

 

 

Healing Out of Intimacy

This is a brief transcription of a message given by Bill Johnson uploaded to YouTube Jan. 28, 2010. Healing Out of Intimacy

You and I will always reflect the nature of the world we are most aware of. Your shadow will always release what overshadows you. If you engage with the Holy Spirit merely because you want to be “effective in ministry”  then you’re developing professional intimacy. What do we call people who are intimate as a profession? We want the lifestyle of the Kingdom to emanate from the yielded life. This relationship we have with the Holy Spirit  is essential to learning the life of miracles because the relationship is where you learn to release the Presence. He will give you the measure of His presence that you are willing to jealously guard. Whatever measure you’re willing to take a bullet for, that measure is what you will learn to carry on a continual basis.

There is a difference between that which has been provided by Heaven for us and the measure we actually walk in.  The Holy Spirit has been given without measure and we have been called to carry this Presence. God can be influenced by what is in us, the timing and the outcome of a situation. For example: Mary and Jesus at the wedding of Cana.

The worst thing we can do when what we’re praying for doesn’t happen is to blame God. There is no lack on His part. He’ll let you have as much as your body can handle. But our bodies can handle a whole bunch more than we’ve got right now. Give place to the Holy Spirit as a lifestyle. Whenever intimacy with the Lord is developed for ministry, you have professional intimacy. We have a name for people who develop intimacy as an occupation. Learn to host the Presence out of relationship so that when we get into places where there is a demand, the demand can be met without our will being involved. (Peter’s shadow healing the crippled man)  A relationship with the Holy Spirit cannot be developed for the purpose of the miraculous; otherwise, you reduce Him to a principle instead of a Person with whom we have a relationship. There is a Person whom we host that we give place to. The Spirit remains in us and we have continuous connection with what the Father is saying, what the Father is doing. Walk every step carefully with the heavenly Dove in mind.

Will You Marry Me?

The Chinese love pageantry.  During the September opening ceremony for the new school year a young man gave an impressive sword exhibition.  It happened that he was in one of my large lecture classes so at break time in one of our class sessions I asked him questions about his skill as a swordsman.  He was pleased to get better acquainted with his foreign teacher and we went for long walks in the campus gardens but he would not use the phone to call before he came to my apartment.  His preferred time to chat was 10:15pm.

The first time he got ready to leave a few minutes after 10:30pm when the foreign teachers’ compound was locked he commented, “Oh, I can’t get out.  I guess I’ll just have to stay here!”

“Oh yes, you can get out.  There is a hole in the fence.”

He had to be shown, so I took him outside and pointed out the space between the iron bars.  He shook hands with me and slipped out but he was not very pleased.

Another time he came a bit later and asked outright if he could stay overnight.  An American movie had been shown on campus that evening of Americans sleeping with each other, drinking, smoking, snorting coke, shooting up, but I again said no.  When I asked him to leave he said the hole in the bars had been closed up.  We went outside so he could show me, and sure enough, no hole.

Wiping his hands on his chest, he asked, “What shall I do now?”

“I guess you’ll just have to sleep in the courtyard,” I replied as I turned to go back inside.

He was so angry that he grabbed two bars, slowly spread them apart and squeezed through without remembering to shake hands. I was horrified at his show of strength.  In fact, I told the other foreign teachers what had happened and asked them to come quickly if they heard me screaming.

When I was in America during the summers after that he wrote love letters and proposed marriage.  This was a common strategy for Chinese students who want to go abroad since many students were not able to get academic scholarships.  I once received a marriage proposal from a chemical engineering professor with whom I had been friends for more than a year, a married man with adult children.  Eventually he was able to get a visiting scholar’s visa to Canada, which he changed to a green card to remain longer.  Unfortunately, his education and experience were inadequate for employment in Canada so he worked in a McDonalds and found life difficult because of his age.

If Chinese students can find American sponsors they can get visas, but the sponsor must guarantee a substantial bond.  Students worked hard at developing friendships with their foreign teachers and then at the end of that teacher’s tenure the student would ask for sponsorship.  If the foreign teacher refused and tried to explain that they didn’t have the money to put up security, the Chinese thought this was a flimsy excuse because one could (and should) falsify documents for a friend.  In one year alone I was asked for security totaling more than $100,000.  Some teachers did sponsor students to study in America but were disappointed when the student felt no further obligation to the sponsor.

Another Lesson Learned

I often went out walking in the nearby countryside seeking a bit of nature. Where my university was located the land was heavily polluted and not much grew. There weren’t even weeds, insects or snakes.  One day I discovered a small settlement of mud houses, some with courtyards containing animals.  One of them had a donkey, an unfriendly dog, a hissing watch-goose, some chickens, and kittens playing in the dirt.  I stood and took in the pleasure of the animals when a little old lady came out of the mud house and invited me in.  I accepted her invitation and sat on a tiny, low stool with one wooden foot on which to balance – similar to an old-fashioned milking stool my father used when milking his cows.  The lady offered me tea in a filthy cup and I accepted graciously because I knew it was her best.  We couldn’t talk because she spoke the local dialect.  At last I set the cup down and bid her goodbye.

The next week I stopped again at the lady’s courtyard gate and she was waiting for me.  Her husband was home this time and they cordially invited me in.  I had brought my Chinese-English/ English-Chinese dictionary with me and the man and I passed it back and forth.  His wife was my age.  I was very surprised and humbled because of her haggard appearance.  Also, she couldn’t read.  After that I went every week except during holidays to visit them.  When it came time to say our last good-byes I took them some cookies I had baked as a special gift.  Quickly the lady offered me first this and then that and it slowly dawned on me that when a gift was received, a gift must be given in return, and my heart sank for they were so poor.  What beautiful, gentle people!  At last I accepted two dozen eggs because I knew they were a renewable resource and hated myself for what I had done.

Nuts and Bolts

Often Chinese universities provide a maid to do housecleaning and laundry for the foreign teachers.  When the maids cleaned our apartments they collected information such as phone numbers, names and addresses.  I was distressed to return from classes to find my underwear drawer in disarray from clumsy searches.  Opened mail, phone taps, and multiple keys for every lock.  One time my bike was gone and later the maid returned it saying that she needed it for a quick trip.  It was locked, though; how did she unlock it?  Oh, she had an extra key, she remarked.  There is no word in Mandarin for “privacy” although the concept is understood.

At one university there was only one washing machine, which we were not permitted to use.  Instead, the maid washed our clothes for a fee.  The various fees would have totaled more than a thousand Yuan in two semesters.  Instead of paying to get my laundry done I carried it off campus once a month to wash at a friend’s apartment.  The other three weeks I did hand laundry, even my jeans and coats.  This was hardly satisfactory, so at the end of the year when negotiating for a second year, I asked for access to the laundry facilities and discovered that the dean of the Foreign Language College didn’t realize what the maid was doing.  He had a personal chat with the Foreign Affairs Office and the next year we all could use the washer to launder our own clothes if we wanted to.

Shopping was an adventure because the vendors see foreigners as geese that lay golden eggs.  Eventually, I wanted to do my own shopping but my students were protective and insisted on going along to haggle and shout over each transaction.  I can still see one student who would become volubly indignant at the shamelessness of the vendors’ eagerness to get more money from me.  My attitude was to move along, trying to bargain, refusing to buy when prices were inflated.

I enjoyed practicing my limited language skills in the open-air markets.  I asked other shoppers what an item cost and they were quite willing to tell me the price and which sellers to go to.  Eventually, there were vendors who offered their vegetables at reasonable prices, so I bought from them faithfully, and good relationships were built.  One of my greatest pleasures in China was to go out on the street and haggle for goods.  Most sellers were good-natured and willing to negotiate.  A few times the price was too low for the seller to make a profit, so when I paid for the item, I would give what I thought was fair.  This aspect of integrity created respect between vendors and me.

I have taken newly arrived foreign teachers shopping to show them where to find various goods and how to negotiate, only to be embarrassed by their brash talk and rude behavior in front of Chinese merchants whom I appreciated.  It won me a subtle smile and a curt nod when I softly apologized, Wo dui bu qi. (I’m sorry).

Meeting and talking with people on the streets was a great pick-me-up when I felt discouraged.  Some polite questions in Chinese society are: How old are you?  How much money do you make?  How much did that cost?  Have you eaten?  Store clerks frequently asked me how old I was.  I pretended to ting bu dong – not understand the question.  Then I would give a wrong answer.  When the clerks were confused I would give the correct answer and they would stare at me in disbelief because I appeared to be younger than they expected.  Sometimes a clerk would give a speech of thanks to Americans who came to China to help in their modernization, especially older Americans.  This made me feel small indeed, so I replied, “Wo bu yun xie – I want no thanks!”

All Americans Do It

During my tenure at that first university a young Chinese teacher knocked on my door one evening to take me to a dance.  Not many Americans do ballroom dancing, so I explained that I didn’t dance; I didn’t know how.  Well, she wouldn’t buy that!  All Americans know how to dance.  It can be seen in the movies.  Nothing I said shook her confidence, so I went.  Reluctantly I began to learn a fox trot and a slow waltz.  Then I discovered that dancing was a wonderful way to get a private conversation with someone who might not be permitted to talk to me otherwise.

Some funny things happened.  Once, the monitor of one of my classes was so afraid of making a misstep that he begged me to lead.

“I can’t,” I protested.  “If you don’t lead, I don’t know what to do.”  So he led, but his legs were shaking until he realized I was truthful, and he began to relax and enjoy himself.

On another occasion somebody invited an army officer who had his eye on me.  Among my students, several were quite accomplished dancers and made me look good.  When the army officer asked the students about dancing with me, they told him I didn’t know much about dancing so he shouldn’t expect too much.  But he marched out on the floor and gave me a summons.  Off we went and he began to do some very fancy steps apart from me while I just stood in confusion. As university dances became increasingly public I abandoned that activity.

Social Status

Another aspect of the culture is class-consciousness.  I was walking to a student dorm one early afternoon when I met the dean of the Foreign Language Department.

“Oh, I was just coming to see you,” he exclaimed.

“Oh I am not home now,” I responded without telling him where I was going.

“Well, may I come to visit you tomorrow afternoon at 2pm?” he asked, and we agreed on the time.

Unknown to me, he continued toward the foreign teachers’ apartments and met two other Americans who essentially had the same conversation with him.  He told us later that at first he wondered why we didn’t turn and retrace our steps to visit with him.  Then it occurred to him that Americans treated people equally, making and keeping appointments according to when they were made rather than according to who they were and their social status.  This dean was appreciated by both his own teachers and students, and by his foreign teachers for his cultural sensitivity.  The other side of this was when we foreign teachers made appointments with our students we were never sure they would keep the appointment because Chinese teachers had more status than the foreign teachers.  Frustrating.

Seating at banquets and formal meetings reveals who is in favor at the time.  Foreign teachers are seated according to how they are regarded by Chinese authorities.  In newspapers and magazines one can see the status of individuals according to where they stand or sit, and those in-the-know can observe the rise and fall of destinies.

Group Decisions

Collectivism, the value of the group over the individual, is a very important concept in Asian cultures.  Student dormitories house six or eight students to a room stacked in bunk beds.  In some universities curtains are allowed around the beds, in other schools curtains are forbidden.  If one stops on the street to ask for directions a committee meeting of passers-by may take place while the various individuals argue about the exact location of an address.  One time after June 1989, while I was back in America I had trouble getting a Chinese  return visa.  The officer I talked to on the phone refused to take any responsibility to process my passport.  So I asked him to have a meeting of those in his office to decide whether or not to stamp my passport.  That gave the man an out and I got my passport stamped and in the return mail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Physical Healing

I grew up believing that people only received healing if they “held their mouth just right”. That is, healing was an iffy proposition, a mystery. Then my youngest brother’s little son got brain cancer and was dramatically healed after going blind from radiation treatments and being sent home to die. Healing was not the luck of the draw. It was just plain raw desperation and tenacity. By His stripes you are healed was the slogan my brother confessed over and over. It made sense but it didn’t connect to any foundational truths in my logical mind. Charismatics didn’t seem to be bothered by logic. And they were intimidated by intellectuals, so God must be intimidated by them, too. Thus, I was told, I couldn’t be a thriving Christian and be intellectual. I certainly knew God wasn’t put off by my quest for reasons why He did things a certain way, so I pressed my relationship with Him persistently. Far from being intimidated, Abba was gentle and patient and opened His Word to me. The sweet Holy Spirit is a wonderful Teacher.

Isaiah 53 is rich in deep meanings that have only yielded it’s truths in the last few years. “By His stripes we are healed” (v. 5) is not a recent teaching, but I’ve never heard a teaching on “surely He has borne our griefs and sorrows” (v. 4) until this past year when the Holy Spirit brought it to my attention. Of course! If the one is true, then so is the other! I began to petition the Father for emotional healing and have been overwhelmed with His gracious goodness. Amazing, abundant goodness.

But God’s grace and goodness are multilayered. Please consider the following Scriptures and how they apply to our Heavenly Father’s values.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (I Cor. 3:16-17 niv)

And such some of you were (once). But you were washed clean [purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin]; and you were consecrated (set apart, hallowed); and you were justified (pronounced righteous, by trust) in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the (Holy) Spirit of our God. 

But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him. Do you not know that your body is the temple – the very sanctuary – of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, you were bought for a price – purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body. (I Cor. 6:11, 17, 18-20 amp)

These verses refer to how sin effects the human body and one’s relationship with the Savior. But what struck me was the value our Creator places on each human being. He emphasizes that the human body is sacred to Him. That’s a strong statement and suggests the value we are to Him.

Couple the sacredness of the clay temple with the provision for healing in Isaiah 53 and there is revelation of how God respects and values each of us physically as well as spiritually. In Matthew 15:26 Jesus told the Canaanite woman that healing and deliverance are the children’s bread. Putting these verses together to see myself as God sees me is very humbling and enlightening. I am awed by the value He places on me –  the terrible price He paid for the completeness of my salvation.

By His stripes

Physical healing,

Children’s bread,

Body is sacred,

David

Chinese peasant

I met David when our university took their American teachers to a site of interest.  He was self-taught in English and was delighted to have the privilege of many hours one-on-one as a translator for a native English speaker.  David had failed the necessary university entrance exams but, in fact, his ability was well above the average university freshman.  Eventually he enrolled with my financial help in a normal school that employed American teachers and passed tests to the second year.  Unfortunately, at the end of that year the dean refused to give him his earned certificate, a common type of corruption, until he received more money under the table.

As an ordinary worker who quit his job to go to college, David didn’t have enough money to pay tuition for a third year, much less slip money under the table.  A two-year certificate in China has more value than a junior college associate degree in America, as it shows adequate training for English teaching in middle schools, factory translation and other work with foreigners.  In spite of his training and considerable knowledge, David would be passed over in favor of others less competent but with money or back door connections.  So he had neither job nor job prospects.  David tended to be high as a kite or lower than a snake’s belly, so I went to the countryside to visit him often and lend encouragement.

Since David’s parents lived in a small village and his father was a common laborer, the rather large family was extremely poor.  When I visited I offered David 10 Yuan to buy vegetables but he refused to accept the money.  I felt so bad about stretching their meager resources that I decided to stop visiting them.  David begged me to come again and secretly accepted the offered money for food.

David’s mother was a gentle, gracious lady my age but she looked many years older. Her skin was dry and wrinkled from the hot sun while working in the fields and her dental health was poor.  When I arrived she sent David to buy the ingredients to make jouza, a dumpling stuffed with a meat and vegetable mixture, a traditional sign of celebration.  David had a room of his own in the quadrangle so while I was visiting he slept with his parents in the main house and I had his little room to myself.  The courtyard houses were made of mud and stone and in the winter they were never warm, although a tiny stove burned one small round block of pressed, powdered coal at a time.  The top of the stove would hold a tea-kettle, so we huddled over the stove in our many layers of clothing while the kettle heated water for tea.

Hunger for Jesus

We frequently talked about Jesus, for David was awed by the stories I told.  Once I asked his permission to sing some simple worship songs.  He eagerly agreed because the Chinese love to entertain and be entertained by singing.  I closed my eyes to obtain a little privacy and began to sing very softly.  The songs flowed one after the other for quite awhile, then a sweet silence descended.  After a long pause David whispered, “Your God is holy.”

On a couple of occasions David took me to the local Three-Self Church.  The church was packed and there was barely room in the courtyard for one more stool.  As much as I could understand, the message was quite straightforward in explaining salvation, a forbidden topic in Three-Self churches.  Three-Self churches are registered with the government and must agree to self-government (no foreign organizations), self-support (no foreign money), and self-administration (no foreign workers).  Three-Self churches are forbidden by the government to address certain topics such as salvation, baptism, or to organize Sunday Schools to evangelize children.  Catholic churches in China come under much closer scrutiny than Protestant churches because Roman Catholics declare loyalty to the Pope whereas the Chinese government insists that all citizens be loyal to their political leaders.  Officials in David’s village were active in resisting the growing Christian influence and David told me of believers’ homes being bulldozed and other believers who were forced to hold bowls of boiling water until the flesh fell off their hands.

Kidney Failure

One of David’s married brothers had kidney failure.  The week before I was to return to America for the summer I received a letter from David asking if I could possibly get a medication with a very long technical name for his brother.  My American doctor happened to be ethnic Chinese so I took the letter to him.  The requested medication was outdated in the States although it could still be obtained, so my doctor wrote out the prescription at no charge and I took it to the local Wal-Mart.  The pharmacist questioned me about the unusual prescription and when I explained the circumstances he filled the order at no cost to me.  Another person who heard about the need paid postage for the medicine to be airmailed to David’s family home.  This prescription extended his brother’s life another two years and he was able to ride a bicycle to the middle school where he taught English.  His wife and little daughter were deeply grateful to have their husband and daddy a bit longer and David’s sister-in-law thought there might be something to the belief in God.

Success Little by Little 

As time passed David got a factory job and tutored children in English in his spare time.  Occasionally I went with him to a home to tutor a child because my presence gave him credibility with parents.  With my encouragement he finally quit his factory job and started a small kindergarten.  During summers I found teaching materials and tapes appropriate for nursery and kindergarten children as well as textbooks and suggestions for teachers.  David pored over the books, materials and tapes, eventually organizing an excellent school, teaching English to the children of officials in his area.  Ironically,  several years later his school was honored as a model kindergarten in that province.

While David was working at the factory he met a girl who had a sad family situation.  David was tender hearted and listened sympathetically when she wept and told her story.  At last they became intimate.  He regretted this many times over because among the peasants such behavior assumes marriage.  He did marry her but declared that he didn’t love her.  They had a child and his wife was a good help to him in the school.  David became rich by Chinese standards, able to buy an apartment, a motorcycle, and a telephone.  But there wasn’t enough money to buy happiness.

Generational Sin 

David felt that his unhappiness justified his unfaithfulness to his wife, and shared with me his extramarital activities.  We even discussed his father’s unfaithfulness to his mother and her patient kindness in return.

Accumulation of sins passed down from parents to children is a serious issue.  Misrepresenting or concealing the truth seems to be an acceptable coping strategy.  If there are no absolutes and man is merely the apex of the evolutionary process, there is no such concept as sin.  People must be taught that God’s Word is not negotiable because it is based on His character as Creator.  God’s little children perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea.4: 6). Generational sin made sense to David but he was unwilling to make a lifestyle change.

Illegal Alien

Eventually David got work as an interpreter for a small international company and was permitted to travel with officials from the company to the United States for business. He managed to slip away from the  group and found work as a cook in a Chinese restaurant. He also found women who were delighted with his sensitive personality. Rather than pay him for his favors, they offered drugs and commodious housing. David called me every few months for several years to tell me how much he was enjoying this new life, but eventually the phone calls dwindled and now I have heard nothing from him for about ten years. I am thankful that David received a strong witness of God’s grace and forgiveness, where ever his choices may have led him.

 

Transparency

The Holy Spirit asked me to disrobe before Jesus! What?! The preteen alter that deliberately took off all her clothes (in a previous post) before lying down in Jesus’ lap came to mind. And Jesus loved her so gently and purely. I knew that she was showing  confidence in Jesus’ purity and wanted to offer transparency before her Savior. Now that was what the Holy Spirit was asking of me. But I was not quick to obey. Transparency?

I struggled with the idea of taking off all my clothes, including my shoes. Did I hear that right?

I decided to search the Bible for any references to being naked before the Lord and found the following site: http://www.alliancenet.org/christward/a-biblical-theology-of-clothing

That article pretty much answered my questions but I still had to overcome the personal objection to disrobing before Abba and Jesus.

The Holy Spirit took my hand and very hesitantly I came into the Throne Room. Slowly I  took off my clothes, item by item, then my shoes and socks. Abba was silent, waiting patiently. Jesus sat on His throne at Abba’s right, also waiting. With the Holy Spirit’s encouragement I quickly climbed the steps to Abba, and in His lap. I asked Him to cover me with His voluminous robe and He covered my nakedness and held me close. At last He handed me over the arm of His throne to His beautiful Son. I had to let go of Abba’s robe to be handed to Jesus. How could they ask this of me? Jesus gently reached for me and drew me into His embrace as I pulled His robe around me. He was so kind and understanding. My desire for Him was far more than the desire to be fully covered. Respectfully, Jesus bent and asked permission to kiss me, and a scene from His horrible death on the cross flashed across my mind. Jesus on the cross knew the shame of nakedness. I remained in Jesus’ lap for a long time until the tension seeped out of my body and I began to accept His comfort and mercy and grace.

Rejection had been my covering from before birth – an orphan spirit – because of the violence around me and then released against me after my birth. I knew if this stronghold were not removed I could never accomplish the destiny appointed for me. By taking off the rags of an orphan spirit I was allowing Father God and His precious Son to clothe me in their righteousness (II Cor. 5:21; I Peter 2:24). Slowly the full implications of this graphic lesson washed away rejection and I was filled with wonder and joy. I belong. I’m a full fledged daughter of the King of the universe. No one can disqualify me because it is the Father and His awesome Son that claim me as their own.

Isaiah 61:10  I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 

The following material is taken from Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Isaiah 61:10 and edited for brevity and readability.

The nature of this joy may be seen from the text itself: it is not a carnal one, or the joy of a carnal man in carnal things, it is spiritual; nor a pharisaical joy, a rejoicing in a man’s self, in his own works of righteousness, for this “is in the Lord”; nor is it hypocritical, or only external, for it is the soul that rejoices; and it is the joy of faith. Joy unspeakable, and full of glory. “For he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation”; with salvation as garments; the salvation of Christ, which, like garments, aside from men, being wrought out by Christ; and is brought near, and applied by the spirit of Christ; and encompasses the saints, and beautifies and adorns them…. This is a matter of joy to the believer since it is a salvation so great; a garment so fitting and suitable, and obtained at free cost; and in which the glory of all the divine perfections is so conspicuous, as well as it being so full, complete, and perfect, and everlasting.

 He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness: not with my own rags,  and filthy ones, too. There is indeed no righteousness in my clothing, properly speaking; but the righteousness of Christ, the best robe, the wedding garment, and change of raiment, which, like a robe, is upon believers; it is in Christ, and imputed to them; it covers their persons and their nakedness, and all their sins, so as not to be seen with the eye of avenging justice: to clothe and cover with it is God’s act of imputation, and Christ’s application of it by his Spirit, Zechariah 3:4, which, perceived by the believer, causes great joy; it being all of a piece, like Christ’s seamless robe, and so pure and spotless, so perfect and complete, and so rich and glorious.

As the Holy Spirit brought this understanding to my heart and mind I began to weep and press deeply into my precious Savior. A wedding garment?! Oh how rich I am with all His blessings! I slipped off Jesus’ lap, clothed in my robe of righteousness, and skipped down the steps to whirl and leap about in wild celebration. The oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:1-2). I belong to Him and He is mine!

Love Story

During my early days in China I had a class of young engineering teachers who spoke good English and were consequently being retrained as English teachers.  They were displeased at being reassigned arbitrarily and bold in their nonverbal language.  For example, free tickets to the American movie Love Story were being given out.  One day one of the young teachers offered me his ticket and the class seemed pleased with my acceptance.  Another offered to sit by me at the movie.  I just thought he was being gracious.  Ha!

The 2000-seat auditorium was filled and people were packed around the perimeter of the huge room.  On my left was the young man who had accompanied me and on my right was an engineering teacher who was a student in one of my other classes.  A number of men were standing on the stage giving speeches.  Hadn’t I come to see a movie?  I was disappointed, thinking I had misunderstood the invitation.  My escort began to interpret the speeches but the teacher on the right leaned over me to protest rather vociferously.  Soon a heated quarrel ensued: it wasn’t proper that I should know the slogans and admonitions being preached by the Communist officials.  I scooted down in my seat to be inconspicuous as possible.

People were talking to each other at the top of their lungs so although the public address system was turned to the threshold of squealing, the speakers could barely be heard.

“Is this Chinese courtesy”?  I asked my student.

“Yes, it is common because people hate these weekly meetings and consider them a waste of time.  But we are required to attend, so we either talk or study to make use of the time.”  After tolerating two hours of speechifying we were allowed to see the movie which was cut and patched to satisfy Chinese morality.

In order to understand this incident one needs to know that just as western civilization is founded on a Christian worldview, Chinese civilization is based on a political worldview.  Possibly I was given the free ticket because my young adult students wanted me to know that everything written or spoken is interpreted politically.  In one case I knew of a foreigner who had a 10,000 page dossier collected on him.  Surveillance is a given.  Some universities give their foreign teachers a computer with Internet hookup so that their vigilance can be maintained a bit easier.  Telephones are closely monitored as well, and all mail is read before being delivered to the addressee.  I once received a book three months after it was airmailed to me.  Do you suppose it took the censor that long to read it first?

A Real Love Story

In one of my oral English classes for teachers there was a young Communist Party member I shall call Paul.  In another class for second year English majors was a very pretty young lady I shall call Bea.  Over the school year they fell in love.  The match wasn’t good though, because of age and social differences.  Although Bea was quite sophisticated she was from the countryside.  Paul was not so refined but he was politically ambitious.  He came to visit me one day to tell me his quandary.  If he married Bea, she wanted him to return to her village with her or there would be no marriage.  His dream was to become important and rich.  Could his dream and this romance be brought together?  I suggested that he could become a big duck in a little puddle and after further deliberation, this is what he decided to do – marry the girl and go to her village to help the people develop their economy.

Several years later they invited me to their village.  It was a closed area where the people were so extremely poor that possibly the provincial officials were too embarrassed to allow visitors.  Paul had connections so I could enter and was made welcome.  Bea had become a teacher of English in a technical school and was chosen as a model teacher in the area.  She was pressured to join the Communist Party and steadfastly refused.  When the authorities appealed to Paul to coerce her, he refused to pressure Bea, explaining that she was able to make her own decisions.  I really admired their respect for one another in a country where this is not the norm.  The last I heard, this very backward area had risen in economic development and is now open to travelers, at least partially thanks to Paul and Bea.

Little Emperors

Since Chinese families may have only one child they often abort or abandon girl babies and choose boys.  The result is boys who are self-centered and the masters of their families.  These attitudes carry over into the classroom and I had several opportunities to deal with their arrogance.  Corey was a nontraditional male student who sat in my class as an auditor.  We became friends and continued to maintain contact for several years.  His family made me welcome in their home several times and Corey and I enjoyed walking about the nearby mountains.  Eventually he found an excellent job as an interpreter/ translator for a small international company in his area and married.  I went to see him and his family one last time before leaving that area and was impressed with the number of square feet in his large apartment since square footage indicates importance.

While I was teaching in Beijing he came to the city on business and gave me a call.  We set up an appointment but that morning it was pouring down rain so I didn’t go to the bus stop to meet him.  I thought he would surely call to cancel since I didn’t have his hotel phone number.  A couple of days later he called and his voice was trembling so I asked if something was wrong.  He said he was so angry with me for not meeting him in the downpour that he was controlling his feelings with great difficulty.  I explained that he had neglected to give me his hotel phone number so I couldn’t call to cancel the appointment and apologized for not meeting him.  He said that his rage had been a problem since he was a child when he didn’t get his own way.  That was the last I heard from Cory.

In two other cases, male students didn’t attend their writing classes.  Both were very intelligent and had affluent parents, so they mistakenly thought their university teachers would understand when more important things prevented them from coming to classes.  Writing in a foreign language is a skill learned through practice, thus both these young men failed writing.  The university chose to support their foreign teacher’s assessment, so the young men were expected to repeat the class with students a year younger.  This was certainly a blow to the male ego, so I offered to tutor them separately in the privacy of my apartment.  They were grateful and accomplished the lessons faithfully and easily.

One young man stood out as a social misfit in a culture which emphasizes relationships.  I made a special effort to get to know him and discovered that he had never known his father and was raised by his mother and grandmother.  He had taken the university entrance exam to go into some field of science but was arbitrarily placed in English language.  There are few counselors in the Chinese education system and psychology is regarded with deep suspicion, so I tried unsuccessfully to find a male teacher or graduate student to befriend this young man.  As a last resort I asked an American man to try to win his confidence, but this didn’t work out either.  Finally, I simply did the best I could to be his friend and sounding board.  After graduation he got a job translating scientific materials into English and began taking night classes to reach his personal goals.

Democracy at Work

Writing in a foreign language requires time for thinking about how to express thoughts rationally.  One day the students were slow in completing their writing assignment so I allowed them to remain in the room to finish and left the monitor in charge.  For some reason the monitor also left.  When I came back in the afternoon to collect the completed assignments not all the students’ papers were accounted for.  Apparently three “bad boys” from the class had snatched a handful of papers and threw them away.  Since I hated to ask everyone to make up the assignment they had worked so hard on, I submitted the problem to the whole class.

First I asked the three boys to stand and apologize to their classmates.  They stood and started self-criticisms!  Quickly I stopped them, explaining that self-criticism was far too severe for a relatively minor mistake in judgment.  Everyone looked surprised.  I asked the boys to sit down and talked a bit more about the value and dignity of a person because we are made in God’s image.  Even a hardened criminal has value in God’s eyes.  I could see that they didn’t fully understand but they were open to my comments, having heard that Americans believed in democracy.  We solved the problem of the missing papers as a class and the “bad boys” never caused trouble again, having been allowed to explain themselves, apologize, and help solve the problem of missing assignments in a respectful manner.

Deliverance

In the past several weeks I have been adjusting to an integrated personality. My spirit is so hungry to know Jesus and Abba more deeply so I have been seeking Him insistently. Also, I have met the Holy Spirit as I mentioned in an earlier post, when a couple of demons attempted to harm me. The Holy Spirit was prompt and powerful, like a blinding flash of Light, to drive off the evil ones. And all three of the Triune God came to gently comfort and heal me. After having had joy and laughter with Abba and Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit put a strong feeling of respect into my heart. He is an untamed, fierce spirit in protecting His own, but oh, so gentle with the Blood-bought ones.

Now I am getting acquainted with the precious Holy Spirit in an intimate walk I can only describe as awesome. Words fail me.  He doesn’t use words when we talk but I understand Him. Because I am isolated from family and friends, I talk aloud to Him and  His responses are thoughts or impressions. When I act in faith on what I believe I’ve heard, He is quick to affirm me.

I am learning to be lucid at night since I am getting some dreams that are mixed with interference from the evil one. For example, in one dream I was frustrated because I couldn’t find my ministry. That’s funny, I thought. Why would I be seeking and not finding a ministry? After some thoughtful prayer, I realized that I do indeed have a strong ministry of intercession and have had for a long time. So I asked the Holy Spirit to stay close by to protect me while I slept. I remember walking a woodsy path arm in arm with Him when in an instant He chopped off the head of a good-sized snake. I didn’t even have time to gasp! We walked on through the night and I was secure on His arm as we communed together.

The next morning I was tired from being semi-awake during the night, but all day I was silent, thinking about the snake. After prayer for help interpreting, I understood that the snake represented deception and cunning, and I had experienced a soverign deliverance! I knew that was true because I remember as a child using clever words to confuse my earthly father when he was aggressive with me. I have often prayed Psalm 90:8 but didn’t realize I was dealing with an evil spirit.

The second day after the night-time deliverance, after I had fully explored the event, I became so elated and filled with joy that I could hardly contain. I danced before the Throne in my garment of praise, and sang continuously. That second night the Holy Spirit brought me into the Throne Room and to the foot of the throne where I stood with my head down in unworthiness. But the sweet Holy Spirit urged me to ascend the throne to sit on Abba’s lap, so very hesitantly I did. He bent over me eagerly, passionately, and I could see the Light of Love in His beautiful eyes.

Then He lifted me over the arm of His throne to His Son, my Jesus, who drew me into His lap and began to kiss me earnestly. His kisses weren’t shy; they were possessive, and my heart reached out eagerly. His touch was like electricity, but He knew that as long as I was in my body I could absorb only so much, so I trusted Him and refused to draw back. What a difference that deliverance made in our intimacy. And it was soverign – without my asking but with my deepest desire to be free of all bondages and hindrances. He knew. I had heard  about such deliverances and have now experienced His amazing intervention. He is as near as my breath. Precious Holy Spirit.

A Fresh Start

My second year at the same university was all blue skies.  My students and colleagues began to greet me in the streets and hallways.  Old grandmothers sitting in the afternoon sun would invite me to sit awhile with them – and I did even though I still hadn’t learned enough of the language to converse with them.  With the additional foreign teachers there was greater social interaction.  I especially enjoyed the company of a Soviet scientist who had a wonderful sense of humor and a quick mind to learn languages.  His companion was a pianist of some ability, so we all often gathered in the piano room to socialize while being serenaded after the evening meal.

Teaching philosophies differ greatly from East to West.  In China teachers are considered the source of all knowledge.  Even in foreign language classes the Chinese teacher lectures the whole two hours and is never to be questioned regarding the accuracy of his information.  In contrast, the Western teacher gives students as much class time as possible to practice their speaking and listening skills.  If the teacher makes an erroneous statement, he will usually correct himself and apologize.  The western teacher doesn’t single out students as “models” or scold anyone publicly.  Chinese children are taught to fear offending their elders, parents and teachers, so they wish to please.  If they fail to please they are very upset.  Thus, students in the foreign teachers’ classrooms attempt to please rather than practice their skills of listening and speaking.

I was accustomed to using an overhead projector in American classrooms and was told that the university had one I could use.  The individual assigned to the audiovisual room was overprotective and my classes were repeatedly interrupted by him to be sure I hadn’t absconded with it, so I decided it wasn’t worth the wasted class time to explain that I was still using the machine.  There were no overlays, so I used plastic wrap I had brought with me from the States and I was asked to turn that in to the audiovisual secretary, too.  The pens were permanent markers, so I couldn’t wash off the ink to reuse the plastic.  At last I gave up and the machines aged safely in their locked cabinets.

The use of audiovisual machines is more common now and videos are popular.  Rather than allowing the foreign teacher to control his own video showing, however, there is a central office where videos are turned on and off.  Sometimes videos are thought of as a form of entertainment rather than a lesson with stops and starts where the teacher may want to make a comment.  Videos need prior approval lest they be politically unacceptable, and they are routinely copied for the use of Chinese students and teachers, thus violating copyright laws.

One of the new foreign teachers was also new to teaching.  One day she came to lunch in tears and we asked what had happened.  She explained that her students wouldn’t respond to anything she said or did.  She even threatened to jump out the window if they didn’t talk to her.  She climbed up on the ledge of the sixth floor window but nobody made any effort to stop her so she climbed down and left the room crying.  Several of us with a little experience tried to explain the different cultural outlook and suggested some strategies for how to elicit responses from the students.  Eventually, she found her own ways to relate to the students by teaching them dance routines and youth subculture language and humor.

                                                  I Learn A Lesson                                                                          

During one lesson I called on the class monitor to recite.  Class monitors are similar to class presidents in American junior-senior high schools.  However, class monitors are chosen by the Party Secretary of the Foreign Languages Department primarily for political responsibilities, among which is to report any unacceptable comments made by the foreign teachers at any time, in or out of class.  This particular class monitor was quite friendly with me and often came with his girl friend to visit me at my apartment.

The lesson in which I called on the class monitor to recite occurred the second year I taught in this university and was also Barry’s second year in my classes.  By this time students knew not to stand when I called on them, but Barry stood with his head down as though he were made of stone.  I waited until the silence was heavy.  Barry began to shed a few tears and the class looked at me to see what I might do.  But I didn’t know what to do.  Barry continued to stand even though I gave him permission to sit, so at last I dismissed the class and asked them all to leave the room except his girl friend.  He still refused to sit or to speak, so reluctantly I also left the room.  The whole class waited anxiously outside the door and refused to go to lunch without him.

Later in the day Barry regained his composure and came with his girl friend to my apartment to explain that he hadn’t read the day’s assignment and couldn’t answer my question.  He was so ashamed to have embarrassed himself in front of all his classmates that he didn’t know what to do; thus he stood and remained standing.  While I was so accommodating he took the opportunity to ask if he and his girlfriend might stay in my apartment some night to watch TV while I was teaching a night class.  Reluctantly I agreed, not knowing how to refuse, for I was sympathetic with the students who had never seen such opulence as their foreign teachers were provided: carpets on the floor; upholstered furniture; a refrigerator, although small to be sure; our own private bathrooms with hot water once a day for an hour; a telephone and a television.

Chinese authorities dole out perks according to the perceived status of their teachers and are not pleased when the recipient shares his bounty, so I was hesitant to allow the two to watch TV in my apartment while I was in class.  I asked them not to answer the door if anyone knocked and not to answer the phone if it should ring.  Having received their solemn promise I went to class.  Knowing something of the culture, I should have known better, for when I returned Barry told me he had answered the phone and an FAO helper had called.  The FAO assistant, also a student, was furious that Barry was in my apartment and came immediately to throw him out.  Barry assured me that I had nothing to worry about because he had whipped the Foreign Affairs assistant.  The assistant had lost face so nothing was said to me about the students being in my apartment, but I never again allowed anyone to stay in the apartment when I was out.

Barry’s very pretty girl friend came to visit me fairly often and I enjoyed her company because she was quick-witted and had a keen sense of humor.  Sometimes I noticed bruises on her face and arms and asked her about them.  She always had an explanation.  However, other Chinese and American teachers observed the bruises as well, so we spoke to the Chinese teacher in charge of this class.  The Chinese teachers suspected that Barry was beating her and then threatening to harm himself if she told.  We asked her to quit seeing him but she was too afraid of the consequences if she did.

Finally, at the end of the two-year normal school training, students were assigned by the provincial government to various rural elementary schools.  Barry was assigned to a small school in the countryside near his home and his girl friend was sent to a small rural school near her home, far from Barry.  As is common in China, Barry tried diligently to get his assignment changed to be nearer her but his father didn’t have enough power or money to influence the officials.  Thus, the girl was free at last from Barry’s abuse.

Cheating?

Because non-English majors are required to know some English, the engineering students wanted to have a foreign teacher.  It was university policy to give foreign teachers classes of 100 or more students in lecture theaters, which made student-teacher interaction difficult.  Rather, the teacher was expected to lecture/entertain for two hours.  However, I refused to lecture two hours, preferring to involve the students in a little oral practice though it be minimal.  After the first hour’s lecture there was a 10 or 15 minute break, then l took attendance again since students tended to slip out during the break and not come back.  After attendance students counted off and I passed out simple questions about the lesson.  In their small groups they answered their questions for their classmates.  They loved this non-threatening strategy so attendance in my classes didn’t wane at the end of the semester as other teachers’ classes did.  Their grades were based on attendance and participation, so they were able to get good grades with relative ease in my classes.

Occasionally I gave written quizzes.  Students regularly helped each other so I explained that I would walk around with a red pen and mark zeros on the papers of those who loaned or borrowed seat mates’ papers.  But when I actually began walking around marking on papers there were cries of indignation.  One young man declared in a very passionate letter the following week that he would never like me because I gave him a zero unjustly.  Keeping in mind that this is a very relationship oriented culture, I was supposed to be crushed because he had withdrawn his favor.  The next week I handed him a response in which I explained that both the person who “loaned” his paper and the person who “borrowed” the paper were equally at fault.  There was no question about the reason he got a zero.  The third week the student’s letter had a less vitriolic tone as he explained that he was not to be blamed because he was an excellent student.  The friend at his side was to be blamed because he was not such a good student and needed extra help.  Shouldn’t the better student help the less able one?  The fourth week I replied that some day he would be in charge of others as a leader.  As one responsible for the lives of his men, would he condone incompetent workers in places of accountability?  This was the last week of our correspondence for he let the matter drop.

At the end of the semester this student had the highest grade not only in his class but among all the undergraduate engineering students in my classes.  One evening he knocked on my door dressed in his best suit.  I was delighted to see him, sincerely respectful of his courage in writing the letters to me as well as his consistent class work and commendable attitude.  He came to thank me for my letters in response to his.  He had given thought to my point about responsibility and decided he wanted to rise to my concept of an accountable leader.

A Stranger Visits the Classroom

As a teacher in China I was sometimes surprised by classroom climate.  One day Tim, who had been assigned by the FAO to be my translator during a holiday event, unexpectedly knocked on my classroom door.  I was busy presenting the lesson so I asked a student near the door to please answer the knock.  The student was horrified to see a stranger and refused to let Tim in so I went to see who was there.  Seeing Tim, I invited him in and asked a girl student to share a seat with another girl because there were no empty seats.  Tim sat and seemed to be pleased but the students all leaned away from him and were silent, not even responding to the lesson.  After class Tim commented that he didn’t like my students.  They weren’t friendly.

The following week I asked the students why they were so rude to my friend.  They declared that I lacked judgment in picking up strangers in a foreign culture and they were afraid he was a murderer.  This was no laughing matter to them so I explained how I had met Tim.  Then I further explained that since this was an English language  classroom taught by an American I hoped they would understand my perspective and be more hospitable next time.  There was no next time but I have related that incident to other groups of students as a springboard to discussing cultural differences and ideas about hospitality.  Apparently the reaction of the class Tim visited was not typical although rural areas do tend to be insular.