After a tragic incident sent shockwaves through the Chinese-speaking community in North Carolina, ReFrame Ministries’ Chinese ministry team stepped in for support.
On August 28, a Chinese doctoral student shot and killed his mentor, a professor of applied physical sciences at the University of North Carolina, before taking his own life.
“This heartbreaking event shed light on pressing issues that young Chinese speakers face,” said Jerry An, ReFrame’s Chinese ministry leader. “Many students, both in China and those studying abroad, face incredible academic pressure, stress, and mental health challenges.”
In response to the tragedy, An and other members of ReFrame’s Chinese ministry team partnered with a Chinese church in North Carolina to organize a special online event that included distinguished guests and Chinese speakers who may be facing similar pressures.
The event featured Xiangwu Zhang, a Chinese-American professor at North Carolina State University. Zhang discussed the pivotal relationship between students and advisors. Psychologist Lin Yin offered insights on preventing personal psychological crises, and pastor Harry Ma shared his wisdom on evangelization and pastoral ministry.
The event underscored the significance of creating a supportive community and providing resources that can help those grappling with academic pressure and personal crises.
The UNC shooting was not the first time that ReFrame’s Chinese ministry team has offered a Christian perspective on mental health and academic pressure. In 2022 the team published a book of testimonies from alumni of the prestigious Peking University that highlight how faith and community support can support students during times of despair.
One of the testimonies came from Ling (not his real name). He had always been a great student, but a devastating failure in his postgraduate exams shattered his self-esteem.
“After this failure,” Ling wrote, “I felt that there is no more hope in life, no more fame, no more money, no more power, and I wanted to kill myself.”
Ling was standing on the ledge of a building intending to jump when he received three back-to-back phone calls from a Christian friend of his inviting him to share a simple chicken dinner.
Ling recalls telling himself, “I’d like to be a full ghost rather than a hungry one. I'll jump after I've eaten.”
“This act of kindness from Ling’s friend reignited a spark of hope within him, reminding him of the hope he’d once found in the Bible and the importance of human connection,” An said.
Ling’s experience led him to dig deeper into the teachings of the Bible, where he found wisdom and guidance that touched his heart deeply and eventually led him to become a Christian himself. And the woman who offered him the chicken? Ling married her.
Ling’s story illustrates the struggles that many Chinese students face: the overwhelming burden of academic pressure, personal crises, and a desperate need for hope.
“In the darkness of such moments,” An added, “these students need a guiding light, a source of strength, and a message of love that can only be found in Christ.”
With your generous support, ReFrame Ministries aims to ensure that more stories like Ling’s emerge to bring hope and transformation to Chinese students.
About the Author
Brian Clark, ReFrame Ministries