In Chinese, Easter is “come back to life” day. This often brings a gasp to North American listeners—as if the name itself is a witness to the truth of Easter Sunday. But I found few in my circle of Chinese friends, colleagues, and students who made any connection. If the textbook holiday chapter had a decorated egg in it, I would elaborate a bit on other symbols of the holiday. Eggs as the start of life, new clothes, seeds bringing new plants, and a cross. I might draw a cross on the board and ask if anyone knew why this was on top of many church buildings worldwide. Some associated it with the Red Cross while there was always one who knew of “the god’s terrible death.” Further questions and discussions always took place later.
But come back to life he did! Our faith is futile if he didn’t. But his death came first. The joy of “coming back to life” day comes from the fact that it followed a death that appeared so final.
Spring illustrates death to life right before our eyes. Living with four seasons was a new experience for me when I came to Asia. My southern California childhood did not have distinct changes in weather through the year. But as I taught from Xinjiang to Heilongjiang spring appeared through my window each year. I saw the transformation of sticks and twigs into lush green bushes and trees. Flowers seemed to pop out of the ground and dusty brown paths on our campus were again covered with grass. My students, coming from farming communities, were often more familiar with the labor of sowing seeds than the joy of budding trees. But stories of a seed dying and creating something new didn’t need explaining. Some were intrigued with an account of a God who did the same and others came to personally know the one who came back to life.
This year I attended the funeral of a believing brother who had passed away with a shocking suddenness. At the service celebrating his life listeners were reminded that his soul was now home. It did not need to search for an allotted number of days for a place to settle, as locals would tell you. His God had long ago prepared a place for him and was welcoming him. His God had conquered death and come back to life.
New believers are the ultimate earthly illustration of life coming from death—in any country. We can all remember our own journeys to faith and those moments when the truth of what we had come to believe suddenly hit home. The pieces started to fit together. All was not clear and understood or even fathomable, even if our parents or a trusted friend had said so. It was simply eye opening and awesome. Hopefully these moments continue until heaven when we see face to face the one who came back to life.
One Sunday my closest Chinese friend and I were enjoying lunch and talking over that day’s lesson. It had centered on the celebration taking place during the Easter account. She was remembering what she knew of the first Passover and suddenly burst out—“He’s the Lamb! They always killed a lamb at that time! He died at that time. He’s the Lamb that died—but he came back to life!” Writing this does not do the moment justice. Perhaps you could try and envision a crowded restaurant and a young Chinese woman practically shouting—in English—to a gray-haired foreigner. Or you could shout with her, “He came back to life!”
Barbara Kindschi has been privileged and challenged to teach English in China, Myanmar, Laos, and beginning this year, Mongolia. Her classes have been filled with undergrads, professors, accountants, hotel employees, monks, government workers and beauty pageant contestants. They continue to be both her students and teachers. View Full Bio
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