There are few things in life that truly constitute the Joey Lawrence “Whoa!” (from the hit 90’s coming-of-age sitcom, Blossom). I have Josh & Michelle to thank for reminding me of this little known, but universal truth. But, yesterday, I think it’s safe to say, I experienced the granddaddy of all “Whoa!” worthy situations (at least in my China adventures thus far).
Work began at 1PM and I arrived to discover that I had been scheduled for six (!) classes. One of the other foreign teachers had called in sick, so the others and I were left to cover her classes. That meant I was to have my very first “English Corner” class. English Corners are the largest format class offered at Web and it’s possible to have upwards of 50 students at one time. Any student is welcome to come and sit in as the teacher shares on any topic or activity of their choice. Since it’s only my second week at Web, I was asked to do an introductory class where the students could learn more about me and ask questions about my life, America, anything really. I was warned that I might encounter some odd questions, and encounter them I did. Questions about the NBA (which left me with little insight to offer), Seattle, food… I was asked to sing a Britney Spears song (tempting…)! Of course my age came up, and I continue to feel really good about the fact that people in China think I’m super young. The age guesses ranged from 16-25 years old. You should have seen the jaws drop when I told them I would be 30 (gag) at the end of this month! It was very satisfying for me as I am in denial of this very fact and clinging to 29 with clenched fist and white knuckles.
But the really good questions came up when I was asked about my degree. Studying theology is as foreign to the Chinese as eating pig’s face is to me (yes, they eat pig faces here). Many students had to check their Chinese/English dictionaries to learn what theology even meant and they looked stunned once they discovered its meaning. This brought up a lot of questions about Christianity and church. I even had one student ask me why Muslims and Christians were fighting over Jerusalem… only to be interrupted by another student asking me about Lebron James. :) I was really excited because I could tell that the student’s curiosity had been peaked and that this was only the beginning of great conversations!
But this isn’t even the “Whoa!” worthy experience!
Wait for it…
After the English Corner class my boss approached me. Gavin (his English name) is a 27 year-old Chinese man. He studied in New Zealand for several years and while there he was exposed to Christianity. He has a great deal of respect for the faith, but I don’t think he’s a believer… yet. I could tell something was different about him during my interview. When I mentioned that my degree was in theology, he was smiled widely and said that it was “lovely.” When I told him I’d like to have Sundays off, he gave me a knowing look and said it was no problem and that he “knew why.” So maybe I shouldn’t have been so completely floored by what he asked me yesterday afternoon.
Gavin asked how things went and then asked if I would be willing to do an English Corner every week. The topic: BIBLE STORIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He said that so few Chinese people know anything about the Bible, and that since it’s such a large part of American culture, it would be invaluable for the students to learn about it! What!?!?!? I’m in China, right? He also said that it wouldn’t necessarily be a time for me to present students with the opportunity to make a decision, but if they happened to do that in their own time as a result of my teaching, then so be it!! My boss said this. In China!!!! I was so floored. And still am, quite honestly!!
I had just been chatting with the Lord about my purpose here too. This is something I never ever could have imagined happening. Not ever. Talk about open doors…
I am humbled and thrilled and nervous and expectant. I have more to say on the topic, but I need to get ready for work. Who knows what awaits me today!!! I guess I can’t doubt the rightness of what I’m doing here in China, or the fact that the Lord is in this and working things unimaginable.
More soon… :)