Blog > China Trip: Your Work, Their Work, and God’s Work
China Trip: Your Work, Their Work, and God’s Work
By Jonathan Nesvig – HCC ReEntry Coordinator
In July, I traveled to fifteen cities in China to see forty-two returning professors and their families, ten HCC partners, and many others. As HCC’s ReEntry Coordinator, my job is to serve Chinese students and scholars so that they might thrive and impact others for the kingdom when they return to China. This is obviously a big job that requires much partnership and cooperation with others. For this trip, my goal was to get to know those that have returned, grow in friendship with them, and explore potential partnership with them. Throughout the trip, I was impressed as I heard about your work, their work, and God’s work.
At my first stop and throughout the time in each city, I continually realized that our work isn’t all about HCC. Instead, HCC just gets to set the table for Americans and Chinese to connect and become family. Many of the people I met weren’t all that familiar with HCC staff but they were very familiar with our volunteers and partner churches.
- They told me about attending cooking class.
- They shared about “Grandpa Jim” taking them up north for a day.
- They discussed their time learning English and Bible studies.
- Many of the women talked about the Mom’s Time or a parenting class that they attended.
- They were received with a big welcome from Phyllis and others when they first came to Minnesota.
- They remembered their “sister” Jennie.
- Parents remarked about the fun their kids had at Friendship Meals upstairs with our faithful volunteers.
- They had great memories attending our partner COM’s studies and events.
- They told me about the good times they had with their conversation partners at HCC.
You’ve done the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger and you invited me in,” and Paul in 1 Thessolonians 2:8, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” It was awesome to be reminded of your work and see it’s fruit during my meetings with returnees.
The professors I met were over-the-top in their hospitality. They were so gracious and generous towards me, whether it was putting aside their whole day to show me around their city or taking me to a restaurant to fill the table (and me) up with delicious local food and engage in good conversation. During all these meals and meetings, I realized the privilege we have here in Minnesota to welcome and become friends and even family with the leaders and influencers in China.
- I met with a human rights lawyer that is often traveling to do meetings with the United Nations.
- A doctor that also counsels college students.
- An oil company worker that travels around the world doing business.
- A stay at home mom that is faithfully raising her kids and engaged in ministry in her community and online.
- An architect that loves Jesus and plans to go to New Zealand.
- A sweet couple that recently returned with their two kids and are hoping to meet other young families at a fellowship in their city.
- A kidney doctor that loves the Bible stories but is torn between work and faith.
- A doctor that serves in the army.
- A professor that teaches pharmaceutics at a university in which all fifty-six official Chinese minorities are represented.
Even though the professors come to Minnesota as learners and researchers, they return to China to teach and lead the next generation in China. And their time in Minnesota shapes how they do that!
An important part of this trip was exploring ways in which we might continue to befriend and partner with the students and professors that have returned. Right at the beginning of the trip, one of the returnees told me, “Whatever you do, focus on the children and the professors will follow.” Throughout the remainder of the trip, as I saw the professors and the children and explored potential ideas, they all liked doing something related with children. During the trip, CNN posted a related article about how the country would like to transition from a very exam-oriented education system to a more comprehensive system that includes a focus on “cultural, physical, and political education.” Most immediately, it seems like we may have an opportunity to provide both cultural and service opportunities for children of returning professors. This would allow us to continue to meaningfully serve them and their children. This could be expressed through a camp where Americans and Chinese together serve people in need Along with doing camps, we’d continue to have opportunities to engage with the parents, the professors themselves, through trips with the kids, seminars, and online education. These are a couple ideas that need prayer! Thinking about the work of reentry and looking into the future, Paul’s words in Colossians 4:2 are helpful, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Looking forward, whatever we do, we want to be focused and devoted to God through prayer, watching him work as we work, and giving thanks to him through it all.
God reminded me on this trip that we are doing his work. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” I could feel that on this trip. It’s not all about this non-profit or this ministry or that church or that volunteer. It is all about God! We get to plant and water, but he’s giving the growth! One professor’s story exemplified this. As he took me home on the subway after dinner together in one of the cities I visited, he shared with me his family’s story. He studied in Minnesota from 2015–2016. He often attended ESL class during the week and a local fellowship on the weekend. He returned to China in 2016 and then just last year his wife professed faith and was baptized. Although he still doesn’t follow because work, busyness, and fear, nevertheless his phone is still filled with Bible apps and worship music that he enjoys. While in Minnesota, many people planted and watered seeds in this family’s life and now God is giving them growth in his time. His wife is attending a family fellowship and he continues to pursue God. This is one story among many others where God is still working and doing great things in the lives of students and professors that return home.
Thank you again for your support in sending me to China this July and praise God that when we were still strangers, foreigners, and orphans, he invited us into his family to feast with him forever!