Supporting Article

Preparing for China

Worth the Wait?


In northeast China, an American studying the Chinese language returns to his dorm room. He has only been living in China a few days, but, like a freshly poured can of jianlibao,[1] he is bubbly with the excitement of his new life!

A little surprise is waiting for him as he enters the door of his room: broken glass litters the floor. Standing on the debris, somber Chinese police are covering the room, as thick as Sichuan farmers on a “Help Wanted” poster. His window had been broken by an unknown intruder, and his brand new laptop—a farewell present from his uncle in Topeka just three weeks before—is gone. Zai jian (goodbye)!  The honeymoon is over. Suddenly, the thought of practicing strokes and the wonder of writing his very first Chinese character seem markedly less exotic.

The same month, still in China but 2500 miles west, a young Australian couple descends the steps of an airplane. Their new home in Xinjiang province immediately welcomes them and their baby (born just four months before in Brisbane) with a cheery blast of minus twenty degrees air. Ni hao (hello)!

These are recent, true[2] stories of Christian workers in China. So, how did they respond to their reality checks? The young man, whose new computer was stolen, watched calmly as other non-Christian foreigners in his dorm screamed profanities at school officials. When they finished, he politely accepted the apologies of the officials, helped them save face by recounting tales of thievery back in the United States and thanked the police for all their pretentious efforts to find evidence. The Chinese were deeply impressed and later repeatedly noted the difference in responses from various kinds of foreigners. The young Christian victim went to share with the rest of his team where they all prayed for his loss to be restored a hundred-fold—in Chinese coming to know Christ!

The couple from Brisbane was not daunted by the cold, nor by the tense, multicultural environment. They threw themselves into their jobs as English teachers, loving their students and their town. Strangely enough, after only one week, and never having mentioned Jesus, the entire Chinese faculty asked them, “Would you please tell us stories from the Bible? We‘ve heard it has wonderful stories, but we‘ve never heard any of them. “ They heard them that day—and since then!

Perhaps these Christian foreigners would have begun with the same success in China even if they had not first graduated from the Morrison Center (MC). Perhaps. But it is interesting that they did graduate from that China-specific training first.

It is interesting that they have all (including the young man‘s entire team) specifically testified to how frequently that preparation has been put to good use on the field.

Of course, there are others. For example, there was the one who recognized during the MC semester that he was not ready for China yet. He postponed going and is being mentored further in the United States. Then, there is the girl who came to the MC with a call to China but without contacts or a sending agency. She received lots of both in the course of her MC training and, after graduation, signed up with an experienced sending agency. That agency is now grooming her for long-term living in China adding their own distinctives.

This kind of fruit comes not only from classroom study with a dozen visiting China Christian veterans or from reading twenty books. Just as importantly, it comes from exercises that require the participants to become team players, handle conflicts, assess their own weaknesses, compose a specific ministry plan, start learning Mandarin, write their first support letter and interact with actual Chinese. Then there is the squatty-potty!

The MC experience lasts sixteen weeks. Plans are under way to take some of the China-specific modules and attach them to existing generic, cross-cultural training programs of agencies and churches—perhaps yours?

One noteworthy obstacle has arisen: there seem to be quite a few Western Christians who cannot imagine China adding another four months to its 5000 year history while they invest in preparing themselves. Perhaps that mindset itself invites a prescription for further development. However, for those zealously seeking more of an “express bus” route to China, just this year we discovered a viable alternative. It is in Brazil. A major training effort there can place you in China—or elsewhere in the “10-40 window”—after only five intensive years. There is a catch though: beginning next January, for those going to China that training will include sixteen weeks at the Morrison Center!

For further information contact the MorrisonDirector@aol.com.

Notes

  1. ^ A refreshing nutritional drink
  2. ^ Minor details have been altered for security.
Image credit: Signs Leading Home by Kelly Parker via Flickr

Morrison Center

Jointly founded and led by a cross-section of ministry agencies and organizations, the Morrison Center exists to equip, train and teach prospective Christian workers for China service. View Full Bio