Forty people who teach English in Chinese universities gathered for part of their Winter Break. Three guys from the U.S. traveled to spend a few days with them encouraging their work. While they are employed to help Chinese students learn to speak conversational English, they are called to be kingdom representatives.
These people range in age from 23 to 61. Some were recent college graduates and others are retirees. They all love the Chinese people. They all receive pay and housing from the universities where they teach. Each finds it challenging to spark spiritual conversations where freedom of religion and freedom of speech are not guaranteed rights. They are allowed to answer questions posed to them by students.
In some ways their situation is not foreign to that of professors in American universities. The school does not pay you to proselytize students. You are paid to teach your respective area of expertise. But as a believer, one must always represent King Jesus. Peter admonished first-century believers to, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us….Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 2:12; 3:15-16).
Coupling our actions and words is essential for Christian witness. Being men and women of integrity is crucial. Living in such a way that those around us see consistency between our profession and our lifestyle gains a hearing for the good news. Practicing what we preach testifies to the importance of obedience to God’s word.
It was an honor to encourage people who are being intentional in influencing others. To hear their stories of attempting to influence people for good was uplifting for me. One teacher divided his graduate students into groups of five. Their class assignment was to read and spend 20 minutes discussing the obituary of Milliard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity, in English. One student responded, “I am not a Christian, but I respect what this man did for others.” (If you would like, you can click on the following link and read about his life, too: ttp://www.habitat.org/how/millard_feb2009.aspx.)
Wherever we live, all believers are called to represent the kingdom of heaven. Each of us should find creative ways to dialogue with the people we work with on spiritual topics. As my friend, David Watson, says, “We need to be conspicuously spiritual without being obnoxiously religious.” Through our living we prove trustworthy to those we encounter. Some will be spiritually open and our lifestyle will attract them to us. In such a climate our desire to witness to God’s goodness will be welcomed.
When Jesus spoke of disciples being salt and light, he directed we impact our world. He was emphatic that lights are put on raised places so they give light to the whole room. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).