(This was written the evening on April 16, 2008)
When it seemed like coming on this trip was the right thing to do, it seemed to me that there was a goal beyond presenting the ministry of Santiam Christian School to parents and students in a communist country. That is a wonderful opportunity in and of itself; and, is an important chance to build bridges into the lives of people the Father loves so much.
It seemed to me that I needed to watch and wait for some kind of opportunity the Lord would bring my way. We’ve done presentations and had adventures in Beijing, Shenyang, Qingdao, Guangzhou, and now we are in Shenzhen, departing tomorrow for Korea at 6:00 a.m. I’ve been watching and waiting.
Last night, in Guangzhou, I met a young man named Huang Bo. He goes by the name Mike. When I met him, it seemed the Lord was prompting me to get to know him a little more. Today, here in Shenzhen, I had that chance, and I believe that meeting Mike was at least part of the reason that the Lord had me travel all the way across the Pacific and though China to the city of Shenzhen.
Shenzhen is an interesting place. This city of at least nine million people is less than thirty years old. It was created to be a “special economic zone” (SEZ) in 1979, due to the proximity and success of Hong Kong. (Shenzhen is just 45 minutes from Kowloon, Hong Kong.) The SEZ was created to be an experimental ground of capitalism in "socialism with Chinese characteristics". Think about this for a minute…Here is a city of at least nine million people, living in a place that is less than 30 years old. That creates some interesting dynamics if you think through the implications…
On with the story…
Mike works for the agency that is sponsoring our stay here in Shenzhen. This student recruitment agency is unwittingly cooperating in guaranteeing that some Chinese students have the opportunity to come to the US, study in Christian schools, live with Christian families and hear the Gospel…something most have never heard.
Today, when we went to the Shenzhen office to meet with parents, Mike was there. I was hoping for some time to visit with him, as he impressed me as a gentle, kind person. During a lull in student visits, he stopped at my table. I realized that this was, perhaps, my divine appointment. We began to visit and the visit quickly went beyond small talk and into Mike’s personal concerns.
I often ask about the facets of economic life of the people I meet in other countries. Mike said that he doesn’t have a wife because he can’t afford to support two people and he is often sad because he can’t buy a lot of things. Remember, now, Mike is living in a city that is only thirty years old and was built primarily to facilitate commerce and consumerism. In the last ten years, this city has had over 30 billion dollars in outside business investment to capitalize on the booming Chinese population and it's growing affluence.
I quickly responded that Mike is, indeed, a rich man due to his kind disposition, and that a young woman who would become his wife would come his way soon! (There seven females for every male in Shenzhen, and the average age of the city is less than thirty years old!) He seemed genuinely encouraged. We visited for some time, and I began to feel a divine love and care for this young man that the Lord loves so much. He told me that he felt encouraged as we talked, and he noticed that no one else on the team, besides me, remembered his name after last night.
The conversation took quite a turn when I went out on a limb and told Mike that I believe in God, and that I believed that meeting Mike was a part of the reason why I came to China. He seemed quite astounded and said, “You believe in a God?”
I told Mike that I did believe in the God of Heaven and that I also believed that God loved him and knew about him; and, that He had an amazing plan for Mike’s life. Mike seemed quite incredulous at this, and responded quite seriously, “God knows about me?” I then related some of what the Scripture says about God’s knowledge and care for us.
I told Mike I believed the Bible was God’s words written down for us and that what was written was true. His response was, “You believe it is true? Unbelievable!” He had never met anyone who talked of God and trusted Him and His Word!
We continued to visit, and I knew that Mike was my divine appointment. I could feel a love and care for this young man. I asked him for his email address, as it was getting close to time for us to leave. I asked him to write it in English so I could read it. He wrote a word that I didn’t understand, so I asked him the meaning and why he chose it for his email name. He wrote the transliteration, “gaibangshaoye.”
I asked him what it meant, and he said that the Chinese characters for those sounds actually mean, “I am a poor prince.” That deeply impacted me. In a sense, Jesus was a poor prince. (Actually, a king, but a king is a prince before he is a king!) This 25 year old man, who doesn’t yet know the Father, has actually chosen a name that reflects the character of the Lord Jesus. Amazing.
I told Mike that he is actually a rich prince because of the depth of his character and kindness, and that his abundance is not dependant upon possessions; that the God of Heaven loves him so much. He then said, “If there is this God, I will trust him, too, as you do.” Among other things, I told Mike that if he looks for God with all of his heart, he will find him. He responded, “Who will tell me how to look for him?” I will help him find God.
At that point, it was time for us to leave. Mike looked into my eyes and said very seriously, with both of my hands held in his, “I will be your son.” I believe that he was actually referring to being a disciple, and that he was placing himself in the position as a student. Still clasping both of my hands in his, he asked if I promised to email him. I vowed that I would.
I believe that today’s short, eternal exchange, is one of the main reasons I came to China. I am continually amazed at how God guides and directs, as we keep our eyes looking straight ahead, taking only paths that are firm, one step at a time.
I am looking forward to further exchange with “I am a poor prince” and know that we will see one another again. Please take a few minutes to pray for Mike; that the enemy will not be able to snatch away the seeds that were planted today, and that he comes to know his true Father.