A Chinese student finds a family in America
by Lee Ishin*
IN FALL 1984, I CAME TO THE CITY, THUS BEGINNING LIFE AS A FOREIGN STUDENT. VERY FEW STUDENTS IN THIS PARTICULAR CITY CAME FROM MAINLAND CHINA; THERE WERE ONLY THREE OF US IN MY SCHOOL.
In this foreign land surrounded by various different cultures, I was soon experiencing culture shock. One shock had to do with my English-listening comprehension. Though I had passed TOEFL and GRE tests, I felt awkward when my American classmates burst out laughing at jokes I did not understand. Not understanding the English they spoke, I had to stay away from them. What is worse, I always missed some of my class notes and was unable to check with other students after class. I was under tremendous pressure because I was behind in my study.
I was by myself most of the time. My loneliness led to depression and I felt deserted. I managed an A for two classes and a B for the other two, but still felt isolated. My confidence was beginning to shake; I felt lost when looking at the way ahead.
As my emotions were going through the valley, I chose Professor Anderson as my advisor. The first time I stepped into his office, I felt like stepping from darkness into light. He told me by writing on a piece of paper what projects he would like me to work on. His thinking was clear; so were his written words.
Then he kindly asked me about my family, children, and China. He also told me about his own family and children. His look was calm and peaceful; it was a loving look; it conveyed a kind of love that is beyond the love between a student and a teacher. I no longer felt lonely, becoming confident about the future.
In the fall of 1988, Mr. Anderson’s parents came to town for a visit. The professor invited my wife and me to his home. In the home there was joy and peace; it was filled with truth, goodness, and beauty. The Andersons had a daughter named Jill and two adopted children. I was very touched by the scene, for I was seeing the true love of a Christian family.
When I finished my dissertation, I went to my advisor’s home to give him the final draft. He was holding a baby in his arms. The Andersons had adopted another child. To me, Mr. Anderson was a hardworking and well-educated professor. But now, what I was looking at was a loving father. He loved not only his own children, but also other children. I cannot sufficiently describe my feelings at that time, but suddenly it was difficult to tell him I was leaving him.
The next day he came to the school. In a calm and serious voice, he asked me if I believed that when we left this world some people could go to Heaven and others could not. I was not able to give a straightforward answer. He said he was looking forward to eternal life in Heaven. Then he told me that man is sinful and this is a sinful world we live in. Because God is righteous, He needed to punish sinners for their sins, but He was also loving; He sent His only Son to the world to die for its sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection showed that those who believed in and followed Christ would go to Heaven and have everlasting life.
Mr. Anderson said what he was after was not to dedicate his life to science but to God, that the reason he wanted to be a professor was to bring glory to God, and that their adoption of the children was their response to the call of God – they in fact were doing the work of God.
He gave me a book, How to Be Born Again, by Billy Graham. He said he hoped I would come to know God, believe in Him, and follow Him.
What my advisor shared with me I heard for the first time in my life. I was shocked! Leaving the city, I began thinking about life and belief in God. Only two weeks later, I met Mr. Wen, who introduced me to a Chinese Bible Study Group. The first time I joined them, they were singing hymns. The singing cheered me up and filled my heart with sunshine. It also reminded me of the first time I stepped into Professor Anderson’s office. I began to wonder whether or not I sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit and God’s love just because I had been close to Christians.
After that the group arranged three evangelistic meetings for us seekers. The meetings made me think a lot.
In How to Be Born Again there is such a contrast. The statements about Lenin are in the past tense, but in stark contrast this is what Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25 NIV).
By letting Jesus die and rise again, God has shown the world that Jesus is the Savior of mankind, that the Gospel of Jesus is the eternal truth, and those who believe and trust in the Lord will have eternal life.
As a teenager I sought after a certain “ism” as the eternal truth. The turmoil of the Cultural Revolution in China wiped out the “ism” in my heart. After that I no longer had any belief or any life goal to pursue. I was indeed a lost sheep not knowing where to go.
The Bible says, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8 NIV).
Even five years ago when I still did not know God, when I was rejecting Him and was a sinner, God already loved me. For the past five years, my advisor, a dedicated Christian with a loving heart for God and his neighbors, has patiently cared for and guided me to the successful completion of my doctoral degree, and he further pointed out to me goals, beliefs, and truth for my life.
Paul said, “How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19 NIV).
For the past five years I had been receiving Christ’s love from my advisor. Why then was I still hesitating? What was I waiting for? So in one of the evangelistic meetings when the speaker asked, “Raise your hand if you are willing to accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior,” I put up my hand.
God’s love has led me to the truth, belief, and rebirth. I am determined to carry my cross and follow the Lord Jesus. I want to love the Lord and people, and to pursue eternal life.
- not his real name