Perspective: How I Became a Homeland Missionary in My Classroom
Story by Shari Bellchambers
Not very many people are sent as missionaries to China without having to leave their own town, but I am one of the
lucky ones! When I was asked to head the English as a Second Language program at Mount Vernon Academy in Mount Vernon, Ohio, I knew I had just been appointed a great task from the Lord. It didn’t take long to find out how immense that task was.
On the first day of school, I ask every student their name, the town they were from and their religion. I was thinking that I would hear a lot about Buddhism, perhaps some Confucianism, and maybe even Tao, but I wasn’t expecting to hear every single one of my 13 Chinese students say they had no religion! After getting to know each student better, I realized that they were all products of very urban, Westernized, corporate parents in a country that has so little to do with religion that they don’t even have time for their own gods.
These students were fertile ground, and I knew that it was our responsibility to share Jesus with them. They had never had the chance to hear a single story about who Christ is, much less have any concept of why one would have interest in or need a Savior. Most of them had never even seen a Bible before. I was determined to share Jesus with them, but how? I knew that I couldn’t begin where the other Bible classes were because they didn’t have enough previous knowledge to understand the concepts. I don’t know why, but somehow my mind was stuck, and I didn’t know how to begin with such clean slates. So I did what every Christian does when they are stuck, I prayed.
That week, I handed each of my students a Bible. Toward the end of the class, I noticed one student who was reading the Bible. I walked over to him and asked, “So, what are you reading?” He looked up at me with a grin, pointed to Genesis 1:1 and slowly, with a heavy accent, said, “In the beginning.” I knew then how I was going to teach the Bible to these hungry children! We would start at the beginning and work our way to the end through the course of the year. The next day we began with the creation story.
One day while one of my students read a children’s Christian history book, he called me over and, in hushed and reverent tones, showed me that he had just discovered that “history” equals “His story.” He was so overwhelmed by this new thought that he turned to his table partner and shared his discovery with him too! After several months, another student came up to me and asked if I would make the Bible/worship portion of our two-hour class longer since that was his favorite part. He said he loves the stories that he is hearing. Praise the Lord! The Holy Spirit is beginning to touch hearts, and that is what I have prayed for on a daily basis since school began.
We as Seventh-day Adventist Christians have been called to “preach the gospel to all the world” before the end will come. How wonderful of God that sometimes He brings that world to us! Let us all be found faithful!