Friday, April 2, 2010

Beijing University

didn’t sign up to move to China to do Women’s “Kingdom work.” Over
the past several months, however, I’ve been stretched in my conception
of what it means to love people by serving the English major students,
80% of whom are female. So, it was no surprise when Bethany and I
showed up at 6 AM to go on a field trip with our students that among
the 55 students on the bus to Beijing, three were boys and none of
them I knew well.
Our field trip this day took us to Peking University, which is touted
as the “Harvard of China” by most students. When we walked onto the
campus, it was like touring around in a park more than the a college
campus: Weiming Lake, a former royal palace, surrounds ancient
buildings which comprise central campus, including one building called
“Boya Pagoda,” a large stone tower that has been standing for well
over a century.
“Do you think we could meet some…real Beijing University students?”
one girl dreamed as we explored China’s highest academic echelon. We
stopped by a group of students practicing a drama and watched as they
interacted in their Sunday-morning activity. My students were in awe
of the opportunity to see the “greatest students in the land” studying
together. “There is a poem,” one of my female students recalled as she
rounded the lake of Beijing University. “This poem is a talk about a
student dreaming of waking early and sitting by this lake and reading
English as the sun rises.” She sighed as she stood by the lake,
realizing her vision.
Loretta is a fascinating young sophomore student who my teammates,
Bethany and Jon, and I have had the pleasure of knowing over the past
two years. She is a vibrant leader, which showed on this day as she
took our group through the nine-hour trip touring both Beijing
University and Tsinghua University, a sister school of Beijing U.
Bethany and I went with several students, including Loretta, riding
bicycles through the campus for around half of the day, basking in the
student life and enjoying the scenery around us.
On our bus ride home, Bethany and Loretta sat next to each other,
while I sat just behind them. I was awed by the closeness that one day
of riding bicycles and seeing famous buildings had done to bring these
students closer together. Loretta seemed so comfortable as she fell
asleep on Bethany’s shoulder. Later, Bethany would tell me that she
was Asking the Father to bless Loretta with himself, which I was also
doing as I watched the two of them laughing and sharing their mutual
“It’s really dark outside now,” Loretta commented. “I’m afraid of the dark.”
“Yeah, me too!” Bethany agreed. Bethany shared about how she is able
to overcome her fears by the Son’s presence in her life, something
that Loretta seemed awed by.
“Do you think that He is really dependable?” she asked, pondering the
character of her Maker in a truly personal way. Hearing the name of
the Son spoken of and mulled over so well by such a bright student as
Loretta speaks volumes to the weight that his Spirit’s movement has on
these students’ lives, not to mention how swiftly he honors those who
Ask. It was an exceptional opportunity to be a part of a real
community of young people learning together and allowing our presence
to relate a great desire to be faithful in their lives, something that
they might not see in other contexts where we are simply their
“foreign teachers.”

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