Tim Ulmer, a former staffer for Illinois House Republicans (where I met him) taught English in China for a year.
He has written a book on the experience, which is not yet published.
McHenry County Blog is going to serialize the chapter on his experience at Christmas.
Here is the next installment:
A Chinese Christmas Carol, continued
“Will you please direct me to a church?
“I want to learn more!”
Sally’s exclamation made my mouth drop.
She was grinning like a child asking for candy, and confidently asserted herself by thumping both of her arms on her desktop.
Although no one said anything, everyone seemed to share her charismatic curiosity.
Several people raised their eyebrows in anticipation of what my answer would be.
Her excitement for God was fascinating, but I couldn’t help but laugh and shook my head, “I am afraid that I’d better stop here.
“I only know about one church the government lets foreigners attend.”
Every person in the room exhibited some level of disappointment, as if their favorite basketball team lost by a single shot, or they just lost a pet, or were told that a parent had been diagnosed with a terrible illness.
Poor Sally’s appearance became like a child’s after taking away her candy.
During the silence, two things came to my mind.
First of all, I was confident that no one in the class would turn her—or me—in to the authorities and administrators for having this discussion in class.
My second thought was that these students exemplified exactly what my “guardian angel,” Vickie Kim had told me on that Amtrak train ride to Chicago—the Chinese were hungry to learn something about Christianity.
Without giving a second thought to my own risks, Sally’s courage prompted me to air my disgruntlement of the People’s Republic of China’s intolerance of free thinking and its hindrance of religious inquiries.
For instance, the harder the Communists fought to annihilate Christianity, the more interest Chinese took in Christianity, thus, weakening the Party’s own domination.
I then told them that I was excited to be in China at that particular point in time, and that we very well may be watching history repeat itself.
I explained that it was possible that China was following in the footsteps of the Roman Empire—the Romans came to embrace the same Christianity it had once persecuted.
Getting a distinct nod from Chinese history teacher in my class was invigorating because he was extending to me two messages at once.
His first message was that he agreed with me; and the second was that he “had not heard” me make such a statement, in the event anyone asked him about that morning’s discussion.
For his solemnness, though, some in the circle chuckled in agreement, and others just smiled.
I shared how Jesus had told the Jews, “Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and give unto God the things that are God’s. It seemed to me that if only the government would realize that Christianity really doesn’t threaten them, there would be many happier people.”
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