Chinese 101: My Story Part 1

The below article is a part of a series of articles that were written and posted in the fall of 2017 as we were starting deputation. Since there are so many new followers and subscribers of this blog since that time, I thought I would re-post the series and fill them in on how I learned Chinese.

Shortly after my arrival in Longyan, Fujian, China, I came face to face with the importance of being able to speak Mandarin Chinese – and being able to speak it well. My goal was always to preach proficiently in Mandarin, but arriving in Longyan made me acutely aware of how my language skills would also make or brake my day to day life.

You see, Longyan, though a small city by Chinese standards, boasts a population of over 2 million people; and when I arrived in December of 2010, you could count the number of non-Asian people that lived in the city on just two hands! In other words, there was only a one in a few hundred thousand chance of seeing one white or black person in the city. In addition to the minuscule foreigner presence in the city, extremely few locals spoke a proficient enough level of English to be conversational. That meant that not learning to speak Mandarin Chinese was to isolate myself from the millions of people around me.

Accomplishing day to day tasks – shopping, banking, taking a taxi, asking directions, eating out, getting a haircut, and making friends – all were going to be next to impossible unless I learned the language. In China’s largest cities – Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing – and even in its middle sized cities – Xiamen, Xi’an, Dalian, etc – it is relatively easy to meet other foreigners (Americans, English, Australians, etc) or Chinese with a proficient level of English (tour guides, businessmen, English teachers, etc). But, comparatively speaking, in Longyan there were hardly no such people.

Sure, I worked at an English school, but I was one of only two foreign teachers; and the locals that taught at the school could barely carry a daily conversation in English – and they were English teachers! They were hired to teach basic vocabulary to children so didn’t need a great grasp of the language to do their jobs. The American that I worked with had arrived in China three or four years before me and was already fluent in Mandarin, had his circle of Chinese friends that didn’t speak English, and didn’t spend much time with me outside of work.

So, how did I learn the language? And how did I complete day to day tasks in the meantime? Those are questions to be answered beginning in part two…

Another Somalia, Less A Portugal

China is big.

1.4-billion-people big.

I know that. Most of you that follow my updates know that.

“Big” implies a high birth-rate and a high-death rate — to the tune of 15 million a year being born and 10 million a year dying.

15 million born a year.

10 million dead a year.

As was recently brought to my attention, that is one country of Somalia born a year.

That is one nation of Portugal dead a year.

Or put another way, Iowa and Illinois born every year.

One North Carolina dead every year.

The birth rate highlights the need. The need is huge.

The fields are white and ready unto harvest.

The death rate highlights the urgency. Action is required.

What will you do?

What will you do to reach these millions of Chinese with the gospel?

“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38

February 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors and Praying Friends,

January was a great month. We were in eight churches in SC, TN, GA, VA, IN, and AL. Over the course of the month, we heard from four churches that have voted to partner with us as well as a partner church that has voted to increase their support of our ministry. The Lord has blessed, and we are currently at just over 33% of our needed monthly support — that is one-third of the way back to China!

For the month of February we are looking to be in twelve churches, all of which are a little closer to home than other churches over the last few months. We have meetings scheduled in GA, FL, NC, and TN. Please pray for the Lord to give us more partnering churches as we continue to travel. Being closer to home means more time around our home church, Vision Baptist Church, for midweek Thursday services. We always enjoy opportunities to worship with our church family as our travel schedule permits! The Lord has blessed us with a wonderful church home, and for that we are extremely grateful!

Speaking of our home church, Vision Baptist Church is hosting a missions event that is sure to be like no other  called the World Evangelism Fellowship. This fellowship will be a gathering of missionaries, pastors, and anyone else with an interest in learning how they can be more involved in the cause of world evangelism. Featuring a stellar line-up of veteran missionaries and world evangelism experts, this is one event you won’t want to miss. You will certainly want to mark November 4-6, 2019, on your calendar and visit www.visionmissions.info and navigate to Events > World Evangelism Fellowship to learn more about this exciting event!