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Prepared in Advance

With the beginning of a new academic year and an increase in international students—including many from China—present in person on campuses, we have highlighted the opportunities for reaching them outside of China with the good news of the gospel. An initial challenge to churches was posted in June and then a follow-up last month.

Here, in this story written by a Christian who taught in China for many years, we are reminded that the work of reaching international students often begins in their home countries. It may not happen just the way this story describes—things are different in China today than when this foreign professor taught there. But God is not limited, and we can trust that he is still working, in advance, in the hearts of those we meet on our campuses.

Impact of a Christian Professor at a Chinese University

One semester I taught a class and discovered in an assignment a high degree of similarity between the submissions of a couple of students. Following due process I called the first student into my office, where she confessed that she’d copied part of her assignment from that of the other student. I told her that my own policy was to award a zero for the copied portion, and then deduct that amount again (as a penalty—akin to the Old Testament principal of paying back double for theft). That would give her a negative grade for the assignment. While she said she would be happy with this outcome, I said I would need to check with the school administration as to whether they had a policy for this kind of academic misconduct. She asked that I not reveal her name, as it might jeopardize an opportunity for studying overseas. I agreed I would not state her name. The school office said the penalty was up to me, and would support my “ruling,” and that was all that was necessary. I informed the student of this, but also affirmed to her that she now had a clean state—we would start afresh.

The next day, a Friday, I received a call from the school office saying the Dean would like to know the name of the student. That weekend I prayed, but slept little, pondering whether I would have to disobey my employer, or go back on my word to the student. It appeared I was facing a “tragic moral choice” in which one must supposedly select the lesser of two (or more) evils. (I’m now convinced, from Hebrews 4:15, that these don’t exist.) An idea came to mind. On the following Monday I phoned the student and explained what had happened and suggested that she go to the school office and tell them her story. This was risky for the student, and some may argue she had little choice but to follow the instruction of her teacher. But the school office accepted her story, and she passed the course. She also went on to study abroad, and later I heard was attending a Bible study on campus.

When you meet those students from China—or other countries—remember that God is already at work and trust him to complete what he has begun in their lives, perhaps using your hospitality and friendship (see Philippians 1:6).

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Image credit: Yeh Xintong on Unsplash; the image used is for illustrative purposes only and not a picture of the university in the post.
Narci Herr

Narci Herr

Narci Herr and her husband, Glenn, lived for just over 30 years in Hong Kong. They were first involved in working with the church in Hong Kong and then for the last 20 years of their time in Asia they served workers living in China. During that time Glenn traveled extensively throughout China and Narci …View Full Bio

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