But hell’s plot couldn’t prevent my parents from landing on Chinese soil in September of 1992. What a shock to go from midwest mundane to masses of people: people walking about, biking about, wandering from street to lane, to market. Colorful markets full of watermelons, green beans, pig snouts, and chicken feet, sweet potatoes, spiny fruit, and mollusks all for sale, all for eating. Yes, they were on the opposite side of the planet!
Upon arriving at their post of service, my parents were given the distinguished title of, “the foreign experts.” They taught English to different groups of students for eight hours a day. It was lots of talking and lots of hilarity as they led students in discussion and role-play skits.
Though living conditions were rough, they were welcomed liked diplomats by the university president, (who surprised them at Christmas by asking them to sing Silent Night at a university banquet.)
This snowy day in a more serious moment one student stood up in class and asked my mother a very earnest question. “Mrs. I have a question for you **NOTE TO EDITOR: You can leave the poor grammar in the dialogue**. When you go to market and walk about in our city, who is the tall man who goes everywhere with you? I see him. He looks like tall American, not Chinese.” Others in the class said, “Yes, we have seen him too. Who is that?”
My parents were in a city of several million black haired Chinese and my mother with her red hair, and my dad with his blond hair really stood out. My mom suggested that they must have seen my dad. But the students insisted that it wasn’t him, it was a third person.
While trudging up the stairs of their apartment it suddenly dawned on my mother, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.” Angels walking the markets of China!
My dear mother died this autumn. She had fought cancer for six years. We spent a wonderful summer together, and then just two weeks before I began my new position as AFM Tentmaker coordinator mom couldn’t hold on any longer and fell asleep until Christ comes. A precious and remarkable woman of faith.
What is the impact of an ESL Tentmaker like my mother? Does Tentmaking really have mission value? As a testimony of the power of the relationships Mom and Dad formed 22 years ago, two Chinese girls came to my mother’s funeral! Another former student visited my Dad a month later. Letters of love, sorrow and faith keep pouring in from those who sat in their class. Here is a brief section from a former student writing a letter to my dad who affectionately calls my mom, “Mom”:
“I read First Thessalonians chapter 4. This is the good news that we can see Mom again on that day. We need to work hard with His will and treasure our time to fulfill His work. I will try to help others as you and Mom has done for us, try to preach His Words to friends.
Fred said many times that you and Mom changed his life greatly. You and Mom opened a new world and a new life for us. You know I am always so happy that Jesus treat me so kindful.”
Love given liberally never dies. My mom gave love out in China, and elsewhere around the globe.
What more can we hope in life but influence?