Chinese 101: My Story Part 5

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.

In May of 2015, my dream finally came true. After years of countless hours of listening to podcasts, conversing with shopkeepers, and leading small group Bible studies; one of the pastors finally asked me to preach at a college and career Bible fellowship, which was one of the ministries of the local, national church.

I was given a couple of weeks notice and set out to prepare myself well. It was to be, after all, my first time to preach in Chinese. I chose for my text Luke 9, in which Peter affirms Jesus as the Christ and Jesus defines the terms of following Him. I was given forty five minutes to preach, which was to be followed by small group discussion.

This Bible study, different from the one mentioned in my previous post, ran over fifty on an average Saturday evening and was steadily growing. By 2015, Anny Grace and I had been attending for over a year  and had gotten to know everyone in the group. We had prayed together, studied the Word together, and laughed together. As I became a more and more integral part of the church, the Lord finally blessed me with the opportunity to achieve my goal of the last five years.

That night I preached with virtually no hiccup in my language ability! Afterward, friends approached me to thank me for the message. I was successful! But, my success was not due to anything inherent in me. Rather, it was due to the work that the Lord had accomplished in me and used to push me to learn Mandarin to honor Him.

Walking home with Anny Grace that night, I remember her sharing with me in my excitement for reaching this milestone in my life in Longyan.

I was on top of the world and excited to see what the Lord had in store for me next. One thing that I discovered in a matter of days was that having attained my dream of preaching in Chinese, it was high time I set my sights higher.

Unfortunately, I had already heard from the pastors in the area that they would not let me preach in any Sunday morning worship services for fear of my drawing unwanted attention to them and their congregations from the local government.

Struggling with what to do next, I was reminded of a small group of missionaries whose blogs I had stumbled upon online just a year previous. They were boldly proclaiming their faith. They were planting churches. They were training men for the ministry.

I wanted to be a part.

Chinese 101: My Story Part 4

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.

I froze. Why would he ask me first, of all people? I mean, my Chinese was getting conversational, but I was nowhere near confident enough to be put on the spot like this in the middle of a Bible study.

I fidgeted in my chair as my mouth began to dry. “I didn’t know I’d have to discuss this today,” I managed to get out in Mandarin thinking my face was certainly turning red in embarrassment.

“Oh, ok,” responded the pastor with a hint of confusion. “Jiang YunTian, what do you think?”

I was relieved that the spotlight had shifted from me, but also left wondering why the pastor would ask me an open ended question like that on my first visit to this Bible study. He had spoken to me at church before and knew my level of Chinese was still quite lacking. Why would he think my Mandarin could handle the question? Didn’t he realize that I was just hoping to come in and listen to their discussion to practice listening for Bible terms? Did he not have the forethought to know how embarrassed I would feel being put on the spot like that in front of my believing friends?

I wished I could answer the question. I yearned to be able to have free discussion with Chinese believers about the Bible. But after the blow to my pride I had just experienced, it seemed like me putting myself out there and coming to a small group Bible study was a bad idea.

Myriad are the instances like this that I could use to tell about my struggle to learn Mandarin. Stories from in church and out of church. With friends and with strangers. Whether in the supermarket or at the bank, I was constantly either making embarrassing mistakes or being left to give blank stares that communicated I didn’t understand.

But, through it all, the Lord taught me much about myself and about Him. He taught me what it means to humble yourself to become like someone else. I was often faced with minor humiliation, as in the story above, as a result of wanting to adapt to Chinese life. But, that is nothing compared to what Christ endured becoming a man and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

As one can see, my first forays into national churches in China weren’t easy. There was much to struggle through, both in regards to language and culture. But the Lord was continuing to bless and getting my Mandarin skills ready to preach.

March 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors and Praying Friends,

God blessed us with a great month in February. We were in twelve churches in GA, FL, NC, and TN. The Lord was faithful to provide us with new support and new partnering churches, which of course means we are getting closer to getting back to China. Thank you for your continued prayers as we press on on the deputation trail!

We are very excited as we look ahead to the month of March. We have twelve meetings scheduled this month in NC, VA, MS, TX, and GA – with the majority of the month spent in MS and TX. Our last time through these states was very fruitful for us with new support and new partners, and we are praying for another fruitful trip in these states. Would you join us in praying for new partnering churches in March?

Looking beyond March and into April, the Chinese calendar brings a festival called “Tomb Sweeping Festival” on Friday, April 5th. The yearly holiday is a day for China’s billions to live out their Confucian beliefs concerning familial piety (devotion to family, particularly elders) by paying their respects at the tombs of their deceased parents and grandparents. All of this is done year after year in the Spring and is a source of fear and hopelessness for many Chinese. Most of them have never heard of the other tomb. That tomb is the cause of much celebration and is also widely celebrated each Spring. Their tombs are hopeless and occupied, but that tomb is empty and points us to eternal life! Many of them have never heard of the empty tomb of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came into this world to die for sinners. To die so that everyone – even Chinese people – can have life and hope and joy.  Will you pray for China during this season? Will you pray that many preachers would be sent to them so that they can hear the name of Jesus, believe upon His name, call upon His name, and be saved?