November 5, 2012 — The streets are crowded with people walking, shopping, selling, ambling, rushing, standing, wandering.
John Terpstra with Abigail, the daughter of ELIC staff working in China.
Sidewalks become eating establishments as people holding bowls of noodles squat. The streets pulse with thick traffic. Even the sky seems crowded by tall buildings and dark clouds.
Everywhere the flood of people threatens to drown out even one’s own thoughts. The sensation of being alone, private and separate from others, is rare amid the hustle of Beijing, China.
One middle-aged woman stands alone. She shares her story of slow steps to faith as she treats her American guests to an elaborate tea ceremony. Her tale of letting go of atheism as she studied and sought a greater truth pours from her heart as tea pours into the tiny cups her guests cradle in their hands.
One young Chinese entrepreneur sits alone in a wheelchair. Born paraplegic, against all odds he found and now embraces new life. As he explains all of his businesses to his newfound friends it becomes clear that he is adamant about using every opportunity to be a representative of the truth he’s found.
These two are not lost, even in the bustle of a city as crowded as Beijing, because they are gripped by news that is so good it transforms.
On my trip to China last spring with the English Language Institute/China, I met these and others who stand apart from the crowd. I saw that kingdom work in China is active, vibrant, and as bustling as the city’s streets.
Vivid memories of my trip include Sunday fellowship where expectant crowds waited to get into the services as other crowds filed out. So many faces, so many voices, so much energy—it reminded me of early events in Acts.
With a group of students at a lunch that doubled as conversational English practice, it was evident that teachers had a part to play in those crowds lined up on Sunday mornings. The opportunities for fruitful relationships provided by teaching English are manifold, and it was easy to see that the impact goes beyond the walls of their classrooms.
This was reinforced when I visited with some other teachers from the English Language Institute. These teachers were committed, though they made no effort to disguise the difficulties of living and working cross-culturally. They are witnesses to a crowd of transformed lives that seems to be multiplying before their very eyes. The need is great and the opportunities are abundant.
I returned to North America gripped by what I had heard and experienced.
For more information about English Language Institute/ China visit elic.org.