HONG KONG (NNI) – Over l,000 foreigners are teaching English inside China today, and the vast majority of them are evangelical Christians. Indeed, according to Thomas Lawrence, coordinator of a training agency for Christian teachers about to enter China, this is an imbalance preferred by Chinese educational authorities.
“In one major city,” Lawrence said, “if an applicant leaves blank the section on religion in the application form, the Chinese automatically reject that person. They prefer Christians.”
Over the past few years, as China has opened up and invited English teachers as well as foreign professionals to work in the country, Christians have impressed the Chinese authorities in two major ways. First, they have higher moral standards than many of their non-Christian counterparts. Second, they are often more willing to cope with the primitive and frustrating conditions that accompany teaching inside China.
Lawrence said a teacher in China today has to handle a bewildering array of problems ranging from electricity blackouts during classes and shortages of suitable textbooks, to poor living conditions and social isolation. But by far the greatest frustrations occur in the classroom situation. Said Lawrence, “It is quite common to be asked to teach oral English in a class of 25, when the maximum for an oral class should be no higher than six.”
Asked if any Christian teachers had been thrown out of the country for sharing their faith, Lawrence replied, “If they preach the gospel in place of teaching English they may be ejected, and this has happened in a very few cases.” He stressed that their ejection stemmed basically from failing to do the job they were hired to do. He added, “Witnessing should be outside the classroom context, occurring naturally as friendships are made with the students.”
China continues to present an open door to Christian professionals who are dedicated to their field of work, able to endure hardship, and content to share their faith with discernment.