Two Yangs DO Make It Right

Posted by admin in July 24th, 2009
Published in Uncategorized

Yang Ai was the first chubby Chinese person I had ever met. I loved her immediately—yes! At first sight. She was jolly, jovial, with a face like a little pixie doll. She was assigned to me by the university to help with my research project; part of my dissertation work. I was researching exam-driven education in China for a curriculum reform project the national government was funding. China, for the first time since 1949, was questioning its educational system and wondering if they should shift from a less exam-centered education to a more student-centered one. The timing was perfect for me as I was done with all my coursework and now setting off to write my dissertation. I was truly in the right place at the right time.

My first morning on campus, Yang Ai showed up bright and early at my apartment door eager to get started on the project. She had found 20 students that were willing to be our little guinea pigs. We were asking them to stop studying for the national exams, and to just learn information alongside us from reading current articles, researching on the Internet, and taking a much more organic approach to information. We called it “life-long learning skills.” They were up for the task.

I loved working with Mrs. Yang. She was bright, funny and her English was wonderful. She had studied two years in England working towards her master’s degree in English. Mrs. Yang and I had two very important things in common: we both loved teaching and we both loved food. It was a partnership made in heaven.

My first month on campus went really well. February was cold, but March was freakishly colder. Mrs. Yang worried about me because there was no heat in my building. She’d bring over extra blankets and a small space heater that would blow the entire building’s circuitry every time I tried to use it. I froze and as a result I got a really bad case of bronchitis. Mrs. Yang brought me some homemade chicken soup to comfort me and hopefully cure me. I took the lid off the tureen and sure enough, the whole chicken was in there: head, beak, feet and all. The only thing missing was its feathers.

As I got to know Mrs. Yang better and better, I had an intense desire to share my faith with her. Many nights we’d be up late looking at some test results or reading an article and my heart would just cry out to tell her of God’s love and His goodness. But this was still communist China and I needed to be careful. I wanted Mrs. Yang to know that my research was sincere, that I was truly an academic and not just wanting a relationship with her to share my religion. I hate that “Amway” approach to evangelism where a Christian befriends someone just to win them to Christ. It seems so inauthentic somehow and manipulative. I didn’t want to do that with Mrs. Yang. I wanted our conversation about God, if and when it happened, to come out of a true place of love for her and a desire to share something of my life with her. But the topic just never came up. February. Nothing. March. Nothing. April. Nothing. By May, I was pretty discouraged because I was heading home and had never had the opportunity to tell Mrs. Yang about my love for Jesus and His love for her.

Because we had gotten so close, Daryl suggested that I invite Mrs. Yang to ride the 6-hour train with me back to Shanghai and have some “girlfriend” time before I had to leave China and return back home. I asked her if she could join me for a long weekend and she gladly accepted my offer. I made reservations at a brand new Holiday Inn which was clean, but not terribly expensive. We’d have a few days together to shop, sightseeing and of course, sample all of Shanghai’s amazing cuisine. In other words, PARTY.

I had secretly hoped and prayed that on the long six hour train ride to Shanghai Mrs. Yang and I could talk about God, Jesus and the Bible. But a French tourist lady decided to sit with us and complained the whole ride. “China is so this…China is so that…” She droned on and on with that Frenchy French accent. If she hated China so much, why did she come? Mrs. Yang felt very badly. I told her not to worry; no one likes the French. She laughed.

We arrived at our hotel and everything was perfect. It was brand new and sparkly clean. (If you have ever been to China you know why this is such a wonderful thing). We got our stuff stowed away and headed to the shopping area of old Shanghai. We had so much fun. We ate everything we could find and were stuffed… until the next day. But, still no opportunity opened up for me to share with Mrs. Yang the most important thing in my life—Jesus.

Finally, the last night in town. I was packing and repacking and trying to fit in all the stuff I had bought in Shanghai. I needed to get to bed early because my flight left at 6 AM the next morning. That meant I had to be at the airport by 4 AM. Yea, fun times.

As I was stuffing the last cloisonné egg into the suitcase eagerly awaiting a shower and some sleep, Mrs. Yang asked me, “Teri, are you a Christian?”

I stopped in mid-motion, mouth wide open and well, to tell you the truth, a little stunned. We had spent every day and most evenings together for the past three months and now, at 8 o’clock at night, right before a 4 AM departure, Mrs.Yang wants to know if I’m a Christian.

“Uh, well, um, well, yes Mrs. Yang. I am Christian,” I know my surprise was written all over my face.

“What kinda Christian are you?” she asked.

“Huh?” I’m so brilliant.

“What kinda Christian are you? Do you believe in Bible? Do you believe Jesus come back to earth someday? Are you that kinda Christian?” She looked so sincere and earnest.

I was blown away. What on earth does Mrs. Yang, a full-fledged member of the Communist Party and leader of her university campus, know about Christianity?

“Yes Mrs. Yang. I am that kind of Christian,” I whispered (mainly because I couldn’t quite catch my breath).

“How can you be that kind of Christian? You intellectual. You getting PhD. How can person getting PhD believe in Jesus?” It was not an antagonistic question; there was no guile. She seriously could not reconcile the fact that an educated person could or would believe in Jesus Christ and that He was returning to earth one day.

“Let me put it this way Mrs. Yang. I believe more in Jesus than you and me sitting here. I believe He is the Son of God, a beautiful Savior, a Redeemer, but most importantly Jesus Christ is my very best friend and I love Him more than anything on earth. He is more real to me than you, or this chair or even life. And that’s what kind of Christian I am.” I couldn’t keep the tears away as I shared this with her.

Then I asked her, “Mrs. Yang, how do you know these things? How do you know about Jesus and the Bible and Jesus coming back to earth one day?”

Her story was incredible. Mrs. Yang’s parents (please note here that modern Chinese women don’t change their names when they marry) had been the top Party leaders of the province. Her father was the top Party chief and her mother a poster child for the entire communist propaganda machine. Her mother was an illiterate peasant that was representative of what was thought to be the true backbone of the communist movement in China. Her parents had a lot of power and a lot of privilege. They had the best apartment in town, a car and driver, a country home and all five of their children had positions of importance and influence throughout the entire province.

One day, her father became very ill with a liver disease. The doctors sent him home to die. There was nothing more they could do for him. The children rushed to his bedside to wait for his death. During that time, a Christian pastor of one of the persecuted underground churches was on his knees praying. This Christian pastor had suffered greatly at the hands of Mrs. Yang’s father—Mr. Yang. As Mr. Yang had worked hard to purge the countryside of superstitions and vain religious beliefs, the young pastor had often been a target of Old Man Yang’s wrath and had even been sent to prison for his faith. He had learned to fear the communist leader.

As the Christian pastor was praying, the Lord spoke to him, “Go and pray for Mr. Yang. He is dying and I want you to go and pray for him.” The young pastor was frightened, but knew he could only obey. He took the train into town and finally arrived at the Yang’s luxurious apartment building. (In China, the communists know how to save the best for themselves).

The young pastor knocked on the Yang’s apartment door and Mrs. Yang’s Mother answered. She recognized him. He said to her, “Mrs. Yang, I have heard from God that your husband is ill and God has asked me to come and pray for him. May I come and pray for your husband?”

Mother Yang, who had been exposed to Christianity as a young woman, welcomed the pastor in. The children stepped outside the bedroom, but old Mrs. Yang stayed by her husband’s side. The young pastor laid hands on the dying man and prayed for healing and deliverance from the liver disease…

And God healed old man Yang—completely. Totally. Healed.

Right there, kneeling by their bedside, the young pastor led the old couple to Christ and they asked Jesus into their hearts.

“They were so crazy!” Mrs. Yang told me. “I can’t take my mother anywhere. She want to preach Jesus in market, on bus, everywhere we go. She alway say ‘He comes again! He comes again.’ I worry she and my father lose mind,” Mrs. Yang was crying now too.

The older couple lost everything when Party officials heard of their conversion. The kids distanced themselves from their parents because all they had in life depended on their status with the ruling Party and politics. Mrs. Yang was the only one of the five children that still came around and checked up on the aging couple who now lived like paupers.

“They so happy. They so peaceful. They believe in Bible. And you not believe this. My Mother could never read anything. She completely illiterate, but you put a Bible in front of her and she can read every word. It’s a miracle! But I don’t believe in it, but it is a miracle. And my Father he was healed! All liver disease gone.” She paused for a moment then asked, her head kind of bowed, her eyes looking to the floor.

“Are you that kind of Christian Teri?” she whispered.

“Yes, Mrs. Yang. I’m that kind of Christian. I believe God heals and that He is good and loving and that Jesus is coming again one day,” I answered.

“How can you believe that?” she asked.

“I do,” I said.

Then Mrs. Yang held out her chubby little brown hands and asked me, much like a child, “Please help me believe,” she said. Tears were rolling down her plump cheeks. I took her hands in mine and I prayed the only way I know how, “Jesus, please help Mrs. Yang believe. Please reveal Yourself to her and assure her of Your presence.”

We were silent for a while. Then Mrs. Yang looked up. “My Mother will be very happy about this conversation,” she said.

“She’s probably been praying for you for a very long time,” I answered.

That fall Cliff and Mary Schimmels went to live on Mrs. Yang’s campus and worked very closely with Mrs. Yang. They loved her, discipled her and made arrangements for her to get a master’s degree in the States. She came the next year and through the Schimmels love and care for her, she made a profession of faith. Cliff baptized her. We have often commented that we have never seen a person so transformed by faith. Mrs. Yang returned to her home and university in China. With her new degree from the US she was made head of her department. A Chinese pastor from the States visited her recently and said she had ignited the entire campus with her faith. She wrote me recently and told me of how young teachers, students and even colleagues are coming to Christ in great numbers. She is busy with on campus Bible studies and discipleship training. She has great faith and passion. She is a tremendous gift to her campus and she is a great gift to me proving once again that with God all things are possible, even for those who don’t know how to believe. Peace.

2 users Responded In This Post

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160. deb said,
July 24th, 2009 at 11:01 pm

May the Lord show us the Mrs. Yang’s that might be around us and we aren’t aware.

162. said,
July 25th, 2009 at 9:23 am

Wow, what patience to wait until the Lord was ready for her to hear. Actually you waited for her to ask. I need to learn how to do that. God bless you and Daryl. See ya soon,


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