Finding the Vision for China

by Amy Goldman '10

“I wonder if any foreigner has ever sat here and drawn these mountains before. I doubt it. There’s something exciting about being someplace where few Americans have ever been!” — July 12, 2010

Pen in hand, I sketched the mountains in my little journal and then added a touch of color. Perfect. The temperature was cool, but at an elevation of about 9,000 feet above sea level the heat of the sun was intense. I was sitting on a run-down stone bench in the courtyard of the government housing complex of Yushui Village, high up in the mountains of the Liangshan Autonomous Prefecture. It was almost time for the annual Torch Festival, and I was visiting the village with a young couple who had graciously agreed to host me during my summer internship. The couple didn’t speak any English.

A New Outlook

The Liangshan Autonomous Prefecture is in southwestern China. It is home to the Yi (pronounced “ee”) people, one of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups. Like the Native Americans in our country, these minority groups have their own languages and their own ways of life. Many of these groups are largely unreached, and I was doing an internship in the area so I could see firsthand the mission work being done among the Yi.

It all began with a Cedarville MIS trip the summer after my freshman year, three years ago now. It was advertised as a “vision trip” to China and was portrayed as an opportunity for us to see what God was doing there. By deciding to go on the trip, we were committing to honestly ask God, “Should I come back here after college?”

On that trip I was amazed to find that so many young people were receptive to hear about Jesus. One day I was hiking with a group of girls, and I shared the biblical narrative with one of my new friends. She had never heard the story before, and for the first time I understood that the good news is truly good news. Life is marked by significant moments, and that was one such moment for me. I knew then that I had to go back someday.

A year and a half later I returned to the same city, this time to study abroad. I studied the Chinese language and learned more about Chinese history and culture. When my semester ended I stayed for six more weeks. I reconnected with some special people I had met the previous year, and I led a small group Bible study for Chinese girls. That summer I helped host the second “vision trip” from Cedarville. It was a thrilling experience for me to introduce my schoolmates to what God is doing in China.

A Different Calling

My first trip to China gave me a vision for mission. My second trip to China showed me that I have a passion to give other people a vision for mission.

Since my sophomore year of high school, when I read a perspective-shattering book called Roaring Lambs, I’ve had a deep desire to encourage and equip believers to live out their faith in “secular” careers. Over the past few years the Lord has widened my vision to see what He is doing in the world, and I want to help believers understand what it means for us to be part of the global mission of God.

As I prepare to graduate in December, I hope to continue my education in order to learn more about the field of missiology and how our lives fit into God’s story. I am interested in working in missions on the home front, mobilizing people here in America to be global Christians who are excited about God’s mission and who are significantly involved, both here and abroad.

Seeing Changes Everything

This past summer I took my third trip to China, this time as the vision trip team leader. I led my students from city to city so they could see what I had seen: God is at work in China! We visited factories and talked with Christian business owners; participated in English-teaching ministries; spent time with amazing families; and learned about work being done with special needs children. We also met with young Chinese believers and encouraged them in their faith. We each asked ourselves, “Should I come back to China someday?”

None of my team members may end up in China longterm, but they all have a bigger vision now for what God is doing in the world and are more committed to serving Him wherever He sends them. One of the students, a business major, came back home with a desire to witness more intentionally in conversations with coworkers.  Another student realized that the work being done by God's people is valuable and worth investing in. A third student struggled with health problems and had to ask herself, “Could I do this? Am I cut out for this?” All of them now serve as a bridge between the Church in China and the Church here in the United States, and they are voices for what God is doing in another part of the world.

When the team returned to the States, I ventured to another part of China and spent six weeks living with the Yi people. My vision for mission was expanded yet again as I saw the work being done among one of the world’s least-reached people groups. The workers there have gone as language students, English teachers, and business professionals, and they are being intentional to make disciples among the Yi people of southwest China.

I’m not sure when my fourth trip will be, but I’ve been “gloriously ruined” by my visits to China. Seeing changes everything.