Reaching the World ... From Where You Live
February 1, 2008 - Universities and colleges often attract international students who come to the U.S. to study. Some churches are taking the Gospel to China and other lands by reaching out to these students, who will return to their home countries after their graduation.
by Mike Zhao*
One model of this type of evangelism is a weekly gathering called “Global Café,” a fellowship time for international students sponsored by churches that take turns providing a meal. The students eat together and then select a table or “station” where they practice their conversational English with participating Christians. Some students discuss the cultural traditions of the nearest holiday or some other topic, but others opt for a Bible-study station.
Here is what happened when Mike Zhao followed a Chinese friend of his to Global Café, held at a church near the university he attends.
Before I came to America, I thought, like most Chinese, that Christianity was just a religion and had nothing to do with my personal life.
As an atheist, I thought religion was only for people who lack knowledge and self-confidence, and who need spiritual support from the Bible, which, in my opinion, was just a history book. So every time my wife read the Bible and talked to me about God, I laughed at her and never thought about it seriously. At that time, I believed one should rely on his own wisdom and courage instead of seeking help from a nonexistent God.
When I first came to the United States in January 2007, I had a hard time. Language obstacles, being separated from my wife, having no friends or relatives, and being with my classmates, colleagues and professors who seemed cold, left me completely alone.
One Friday evening I followed a Chinese student to a place called Global Café, which meets at a nearby church.
I met so many Americans who were different from the ones I met in my lab and classes—they were so nice and patient. I attended a Bible study after the dinner, and the two teachers impressed me with their passion and devotion to what they taught. They could have just stayed at home with their families or went out with their friends on a Friday night. Also, I could not understand how the people at Global Café could be so kind and patient and joyful. That seemed impossible for me. My life was always full of anxiety and stress, no matter how hard I tried to avoid it.
As an assignment for the Bible study, we were asked to read some Scripture. When I opened this Book, it was the most exciting and important moment in my life. I was touched by the words, and my heart was awakened. There was something deep in my heart that never could be explained by any knowledge or any book I had read before. This Book gave me the answer and solution—the perfect one.
The Ten Commandments told me that I should honor my parents. I suddenly realized what a bad son I was. I hadn’t contacted my parents since I came to the United States. Actually, I had never found it necessary to talk to my mom since I was 18 years old. But at that moment I found the reason that I should talk to her. This was the Word of God—she is worthy of my time.
Then I read Matthew 5:28, where Jesus said that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. I said to myself, “Wow, what a perfect law it is.” I was always wondering how I could maintain my life-long relationship with my wife, Lily, since a lot of my friends in China take marriage less seriously. Every time Lily asked, “Will you love me forever, no matter how old I am?” I was not sure in my heart that I could, even though I said yes to her. But now I could be 100 percent sure in my heart that I could say “Yes, I will!” Jesus told me I should, and because I love Him, then I could love Lily more than anytime before.
I knew I had found the truth that I was always looking for—it is powerful and eternal. The more I read, the more I found the perfection of the Bible and the greatness of its Author, our living God.
I began to frequently discuss Scriptures with Christian friends. One friend told me that I need to speak to God if I want a personal relationship with Him. Then, for the first time, I prayed. It was amazing! I told God everything in my mind; I praised Him and asked Him to reveal Himself to me. Day after day, the more I prayed, the more I experienced His existence and His love for me. He changed my life and attitudes toward people and the world. He teaches me and gives me wisdom; He shows me truth and love.
I realized it was silly to rely on myself instead of turning my life over to God. Every time I recalled my life without Him, I could remember how sad and awful it was. He relieves our pain and takes our sins and anxiety away. I realized how important it is for everyone to get to know Jesus Christ. Every one of us needs Him. Jesus makes it possible for us to be accepted by God and to enjoy the love and peace from Him.
Every time I think of my parents and friends in China, I am concerned that they don’t know God, and that they are still suffering, just as I did before. The most exciting thing I can imagine is that someday they will know the truth, and humble themselves and confess Christ. God loves them so much, so I believe they will have this chance.
*Name Has Been Changed