In the late 1950s, our friend Larry was in the Air Force. Needing airmen to work on the island of Taiwan, the Air Force sent him to Yale to learn Chinese. In Taiwan he worshiped with American missionaries and Chinese Christians. After his discharge, Larry came back to America and had a successful career as a computer programmer, eventually retiring in Tennessee so that he and his wife could care for her mother. Several years ago Larry became reacquainted with missionaries he had known in Taiwan. They encouraged him to refresh his Chinese and to become involved in sharing the gospel with Chinese students at our local technological university. When Larry does something, he does it with energy and zeal. He set his heart and mind to the task, and now at 74 years old, he is going strong.
Through the years, Larry has used the Bible to help Chinese undergraduates, graduate students, visiting professors, and their spouses improve their English. He and his wife Laura have brought many of their Chinese friends to our home. Ray and I are involved in a local congregation, but we also host a weekly house church on Sunday afternoons. Larry and Laura became part of this many years ago so that they could bring their Chinese friends. In China millions of believers are part of house churches. Larry felt that it was important to give his students a house church experience before they return to China. What a blessing this has been to us.
On Saturday Larry and Laura brought a courting Chinese couple by our house to introduce us. Yesterday they brought them to house church. During our meal, the young man told us that he is a Christian. I asked him to tell us how he became a Christian. He said that it was a long story. In China he had gotten bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and then worked for a couple of years. He said that like other Chinese he worked hard to be a good student. In graduate school he began to think about his future. He thought he would marry and have a child, but he wondered what the purpose of his life was. He was not content thinking that school, work, marriage, and having one child was all there was to life.
One of his teachers was a visiting professor from our local university. He talked to the professor about his engineering specialty and decided that he would like to come here to study that specialty. Soon after he arrived, an American student befriended him in the college cafeteria. They became friends and the American invited him to his family’s home. They showed him photos of a mission trip they had taken to Haiti. He pondered why these people would spend their money to go to another country. They invited him to church. He enjoyed it, he learned, and he came to Jesus.
Year by year and day by day and moment by moment, God is working His perfect will through imperfect people like Larry, Laura, our new Chinese friends, you, and me — and our children.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
for it is God who is at work in you,
both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:12-14, NASB