I have spent much of the last 2 Saturdays ministering to and getting to know some of the students involved in our IFAR (International Friends at Rutgers) ministry. IFAR was founded as a ministry of NDC some 12 years ago when one of our own missionaries, Dave Hedberg, was home on furlough and challenged our church family to be involved with international students at Rutgers. Thus, IFAR was born. In my conversations with Chinese young ladies the past two Saturdays I’ve gained new understanding as to how they perceive themselves based on their worldview that has been shaped in an atheistic and materialistic society. Two Saturdays ago at our first meeting of the year I happened to be talking with two young ladies who are in their first semester of undergraduate studies at Rutgers. They expressed the opinion of themselves that they were both “strong”. What they meant was “fat”. Neither of these young ladies is fat but their self-opinion had been shaped by a worldview of what is the right view of weight in their culture. One of the girls went on to talk about what is considered attractive in Chinese culture for women. Thin is in, lighter skin is better than darker skin and the less slant you have in your eyes the more attractive it is. I was struck by these young ladies opinions of themselves as unattractive.
I began to share with these girls that there is a God in heaven who’s created them to be exactly who they are. I shared that God loves them and has designed them as He has chosen and it doesn’t matter what public opinion says. I was very struck when one of the young ladies started to cry. She had never heard of the God in heaven who’s created her and designed her and loves her just as she is. Her response guided my conversations this past Saturday when I was driving a van load of Chinese students to Ocean Grove for the day.
I had 13 students in the van, 11 of whom were young ladies. I again had this conversation during our travels with 2 different young ladies who were sitting up front in the van. As I asked this van load of students if they had any exposure to Christianity I found that none of them had been exposed to Christianity or the teachings of God’s Word. Once again I had opportunity to tell them about a God in heaven who loves them personally and in fact cares so much for them that He sent His Son to die for them.
When I reflected on these conversations I began to realize most of these students have an opinion of themselves that has been shaped by a totally materialistic worldview. Because capitalism operates in China totally apart from any moral constrains most have no understanding of the intrinsic value and worth of their own souls. I thought of students who have been taught or somehow learned that wearing glasses is a “cool thing”. So some wear glasses even though they don’t need them and some even wear glasses without lenses. Wow, I never thought of wearing glasses as a cool fashion statement but I guess I’ve just been ahead of the times.
It is into this huge, empty vacuum that we have an incredible opportunity to present Jesus Christ. I’m reminded of the Psalmist words in Psalm 139 where David writes, “for you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them”, (v.13-16 NKJV). What an amazing privilege we have of telling people who have no idea who Jesus is or what He’s done how they may know Him. Remember the salvation that has been entrusted to us is not to be kept to ourselves. It is to be shared with a broken and bleeding world and especially with those who have never heard the great truth of God’s amazing grace and His awesome love found in Jesus Christ. All praise to our great Savior!
Pastor Rich Sivo