Going Aboveground in China
This NPR story greatly heartened me. Please follow the link and be sure to listen to the audio which is more extensive than the text version.
The story is about an American Christian aid worker named Tim Baker and his wife who have dedicated their lives to the welfare of Chinese orphans whose numbers have reached epidemic proportions largely stemming from China's one-child policy.
Baker and his wife went to China initially as "underground missionaries" since it is technically illegal to proselytize in the Communist nation. As a workaround, many Christian organizations have sent missionaries to the country disguised as secular professionals who go there not just to work, but to engage people, befriend them, and to "share the gospel" in the process.
You may see the tactic as bait and switch, but given the country's restrictive entrance policy, many understandably see it as the only option to reach the world's most populous nation.
What sets apart Tim Baker is that he has gone aboveground. If you listen to the audio version of the NPR story, you will hear Tim Baker and his associates spontaneously bellow out Amazing Grace in Chinese. In most parts of China, Christians can only dream about singing out hymns out in the open.
The Chinese authorities obviously know about Baker's faith and his openness about it, but yet remain cooperative. When asked about how he has managed it, this soft spoken Wisconsin native quotes St. Francis of Assisi:
Preach the Gospel every day, and if necessary, use words.He continues, "I want people to see my faith, not hear about it so much." Then he follows up with a Chinese proverb:
Seeing something once beats hearing about it a hundred times.