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Home-Based Community Support and the Expatriate in China

Many years ago, my family and I took on an adventure we never regretted. I was offered the opportunity to help lead development of a business startup in western China. Our family of five moved from the US to Shanghai and eventually to Beijing. Our two-year assignment stretched into nearly six, and we had the privilege of living and working in China, experiencing business success, and taking part in a rapidly growing Christian church.

Since our return to the United States, we have had the opportunity to not only reflect on our experience, but to watch others take the same journey. As we look back, we can see how God prepared us, then challenged and used us in ways we never imagined possible. We were fortunate to have a home church that kept in touch with us and made a place for our kids each summer when they returned to the United States. Today, we still consider the experience one of God’s greatest blessings.

After retiring several years ago, I continued to think about why some expatriates in China had more positive experiences than others. I began doing some teaching and returned to school to pursue a doctoral degree in business, centering my research on corporate global expansion and the role of expatriates—specifically Christian expatriate businesspeople.

I discovered that much of the available research on this topic focused on the expatriate’s social networks in China that were essential to cultural adaptation and doing business. What was less clear was the role of the expatriate’s social support system back in their home country—in particular, their home church—during assignment and upon repatriation. As I began discussing the topic with friends in Christian ministry, I found that many US churches do not understand the issues confronting business expatriates, nor do they appreciate the challenges of repatriation.

As I near the end of my degree program, I am pursuing a research topic to better understand the expatriate experience, and specifically the role of a home country-based support system in the life of the expatriate. I am looking for Christians who have lived and worked in China and have since returned and are willing to talk with me about their experiences. The aim of the study is to help organizations understand the best ways to assist expatriates based in China. The study is confidential, and participant identities and personal details will not be shared.

The study is being run through George Fox University’s College of Business.[1] If you are interested in participating, please click on the link below to take a very short survey.

Survey Link:

If you wish to know more about this study, please contact me at


  1. ^ George Fox is Oregon's nationally recognized Christian university, providing students with personal attention, global opportunities to learn and serve, and a supportive community that encourages academic rigor and spiritual growth (
Image credit: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

John Kimber

John Kimber retired in 2013 after working for 35 years in the insurance industry. During his career, he led China development operations for a large insurer.  His family lived in both Shanghai and Beijing, where they were active in Christian fellowships. John recently completed a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree …View Full Bio

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