China (MNN) — The Beijing Olympics is reigniting national pride in young people. The 2008 Games' slogan of "One World, One Dream" points to a future where they will need to engage in a mosaic of languages and cultures.
To many Chinese, the framework for a bigger picture is the ability to speak English fluently. Erik Burklin with China Partner was just in Sichuan Province teaching a two-week English camp.
This year, he took a team from his home church in Colorado. The group arrived in Sichuan Province, China to teach the camp just two weeks before the Games began.
The team worked with Reverend Cai, who runs a Christian Humanitarian organization called Hua Mei International. He is also a local pastor and has taught at a Bible school in Chengdu.
Why this partner? It all has to do with vision. "Hua" is a Chinese reference to China. "Mei" is the first letter of the Chinese word for "America." Hence, "Hua Mei" — a China-America partnership between the churches. It's a remarkably good fit under the Olympic banner.
Burklin explains, "The purpose of this camp is to teach students conversational English. And what's excellent about this idea is that people who come over as teachers don't have to be professional teachers to be a part of this camp. In fact, it's better if they don't speak any Chinese whatsoever, because that forces the Chinese students to have to speak English."
Teachers were encouraged to share their faith, but the opening for that came outside of the main course instruction. "We had basic official classes in the mornings, but in the afternoons we would have activities with the students. During those times is when students would come up to the teachers and get to know them better, and the conversation would turn to spiritual things. That's when we had the opportunity to share about our personal faith in Jesus Christ."
Hua Mei made available a Chinese-English Bible to any student who requested one. At the end of the camp, most of the Chinese students ordered a copy to study further the things they talked about with the team. Keep praying that the seeds of the Gospel will take root. Pray that believers cross these students' paths and that they will be ready with answers.