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A Chance Encounter Changes Everything

By Amy Barnard – Long-Time HCC Volunteer

While at a Beijing conference for the U of M, a lady he’d never met handed Nick a business card for HCC.

“If you need a ride to campus from the airport, you should contact them,” she said.

Who is HCC? Nick really had no idea, but he held onto the card.

When his first plan for a ride fell through, he pulled the card back out and figured it was worth checking things out.

In just a short time, HCC arranged to send Tim Grunditz to the airport to pick Nick up.

“I didn’t realize how lonely I would be,” Nick says, “until I left my parents at the terminal in Beijing.”

Suddenly the loss of his old life and separation from family overwhelmed him, with an empty unknown looming ahead.

What Nick didn’t know what that this “random organization” arranging an airport pickup was also opening the door to a whole new chapter in his life.

Becoming a New Man

Shortly after arriving, Nick discovered the housing arrangements he had made online were less than ideal. The only people he knew were Grunditz family, so he shared his concerns with them. Kathy helped Nick find a room with group of Christian guys from The Rock church.

Soon Nick found himself immersed in a new world: Bible studies with the Rock, HCC events, and a community of these people called Christians.

“Actually, the first year of church was a lot of napping,” Nick laughs. He showed up to religious events for the fellowship and to learn English.

But in 2013 when Nick attended the Faithwalkers conference with some guys from his house, he didn’t nap. In fact, God pierced his heart, and he started exploring the Bible on his own outside of church related events.

Soon he made the decision to follow Jesus. “The biggest obstacle I had was to give up myself,” he explains.

“Before, I knew who I was. I was my own man doing my things and reacting in my own way.” Now, he says, his identity has changed.

In fact, he even chose to take on the name Nick in response to this. “My old name makes me think of my old identity. That’s not who I am anymore…. Some people say Christians are judgmental, but I actually became less judgmental and can see people with compassion. No matter how that person offended me, I am here to be a light.”

On July 30, 2016, Nick married his sweetheart, Lissa. Together Nick and Lissa hope to regularly visit family in China and continue to be a light in their lives.

Thank you for empowering us to serve Nick! His life will never be the same, all because of one chance encounter and an HCC business card.

HCC’s New Program Coordinator Nick Li’s Words:

I was once an international student who didn’t have any friends or connections in a country that I didn’t know much about. Growing up I was told that America was the place to be and I would live a much better life there, and so I went.

In the last 6 years of living in the United States. I started as an international student studying at the university of Minnesota. I was working as a personal trainer part-time during school. Since then, I was a full-time trainer, account manager/salesman, bindery worker and delivery driver.

I also got to meet the love of my life while I was in college, now we’ve been married for 2.5 years and still learning about each other every day. I am now a permanent resident of the US and my wife and I live in St Paul.

HCC has played an monumental role in the last 6 years of my life. I was originally hosted by an HCC volunteer’s family upon my arrival in the US. and HCC has continually shown me its true desire to serve and empower Chinese students and scholars. HCC was the very organization that opened the door to my life today.  I can’t think of a better way to give back to HCC than joining forces with its team. I am beyond thrilled to start a new chapter in my life with a new mission!

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