By Bill Cayard
“Bill, I have a big problem,” my Chinese teacher, Hannah, said to me one morning as we met and drank coffee at McDonalds before beginning our class.
Quickly thinking through several things that might be wrong such as roommate problems, family problems, health or study issues, I asked Hannah what was wrong and how I could help. She replied, “The problem is that I want to become a Christian, but I’m a Ph.D. student studying classical Buddhism, so how can I become a Christian?”
Imagine the joy that filled my heart as I talked with her about becoming a Christian and how that personal faith is independent of her academic study of classical Chinese Buddhism.
Hannah and I had been meeting for almost a year before she brought this question up. We met three times each week for 2 hours studying Chinese. From our first session, I knew that Hannah was special. She was assigned as my teacher by the local university from which we receive our visa. She asked what I wanted to study and what I would like to use as a textbook. Before I could answer, she suggested using the Bible as our textbook since she knew that many Americans are Christians.
“What a great idea,” I replied, “let’s study the Gospel of John.”
And so we began, week by week, reading through John’s gospel with Hannah teaching me the Chinese characters and me and oftentimes explaining the meaning of these special words and concepts to her. Through these exchanges, God spoke to Hannah and revealed himself as the Creator of the universe and Savior of the world. It wasn’t long before Hannah asked if she could attend the local Chinese church where we worship each week.
During those times of worship, the Holy Spirit spoke to her through music and she learned that faith is not only believing something intellectually, but also a matter of heart. God continued to work in her life until the day she presented me with her question. Since then, Hannah has been baptized in the local Chinese church, become a small group leader and uses her education and talents to help others understand how Christianity and Chinese culture can be harmonized. Next month Hannah will begin studying for a master’s degree in Religion so that she can better use her academic knowledge of ancient Chinese culture to share Christ and better serve the local church.
Throughout our years in China, we have been blessed to meet many like Hannah who have heard about Christianity and want to know more. We have been blessed to see new churches start and new believers grow into faithful church leaders and servants. We have been blessed to help provide graduate theological training to pastors and basic Bible training to lay leaders.
God is doing a mighty work among the Chinese people and we have been privileged to be a small part of that work. We are thankful to God for allowing us to be in China. And we are grateful to the individuals and churches that support the CBF Offering for Global Missions, providing the financial support we need to be in China.
Bill Cayard and his wife, Michelle, serve as CBF field personnel in Chengdu, China. Gifts to the CBF Offering for Global Missions support their ministry. To learn more about the Offering and partner with CBF through a contribution, visit www.cbf.net/OGM.