STORIES

These stories are about people just like you -- professionals faithfully serving in the local community and witnessing in the workplace, with a heart for the unreached and God’s glory among the nations. Then they began to prepare themselves and took steps to explore. The rest was history.

These are our alumni or current associates on the field. We have changed the names and, in some cases, the gender. But they are real life stories.

Doing the right thing also takes the right timing. It’s easy to know this as truth, but waiting can be hard. As John’s story shows, even with twists, turns, and years of waiting, when God finally says, ‘Go’, it really is the best.

 

John & Wendy's Story

By the time we got married, my wife and I had already decided to go into missions.  We felt that tentmaking would be the best option for us. She was a software manager, but gave up a China assignment during our courtship to wait for the right opportunity to come for me. 

During my post-doctoral fellowship, I underwent additional training in a related field to broaden my options. My mentor connected me to a position to consult for an international organization on their China projects. My wife and I began to pray for an overseas assignment with this organization. We were headed in the right direction, but there were many bureaucratic obstacles.

It took about 4 years before a position finally became available in China. During this time, we started our family with two young children.

Altogether it took six years of waiting after we got married before we went overseas.  But I was hired for the position we had been praying for.  It offered me great opportunities to work in the field of my professional expertise. 

When my assignment with the NGO was about to end, I ran into a former colleague who introduced me to another opportunity in China. My new job fully utilized my experience and networks. Most importantly, it allowed my family to serve in China for many more years. 

In our 16 years abroad, I was blessed with a rewarding career that enabled me to make some meaningful contributions in my professional field. I was also blessed to see several of my colleagues come to faith in the last three years of my tenure. At church, my wife and I were responsible for the training of small group leaders.  I also had the privilege of teaching Bible study methods to a network of student leaders. Finally, our children have grown up loving the Lord, comfortable with their identity and bicultural heritage.  

When we align ourselves with His will and move intentionally in obedience, we can testify to God’s faithfulness that leads us every step of the way in career, ministry and family.

In an emerging market like China, engineers are always sought after. The time spent overseas adds diverse experience to one’s career. Returning to the U.S., they discover that they had gained more than they had given up. 

 

Adrian, Civil Engineer

I wondered for many years if there were opportunities for a civil engineer in China. When God finally opened the door, I gave up my job supervising a large team of highway engineers to join a small team in a Chinese start-up company. 

From the start, survival and success came from relying on God daily. With the support of my prayer team, I completed the factory building project on schedule. In my work and everyday routine, I tried to be a living testimony to my local colleagues. When Christmas came around, they asked to go to church with me and thanked me for coming to China to work with them.

After eight years in China and more experience at another company, I came home to take care of my elderly parents. A construction management firm was impressed by my diverse professional experience and offered me a job. Of all the jobs I’ve ever had in the U.S., this one is the biggest blessing.

No matter how prepared we may be, uncertainties abound in the field. How do we navigate the future and make God-centered decisions? As shown in Max and Annie’s situation, the Lord walks with us through the hills and valleys, allowing us to discover who we are and to experience His providence.

 

Max & Annie's Story

I’d been blessed with a steady career in the IT industry in the U.S. and a clear calling to China. Eight years ago, our family of five moved to China. Work and marketplace discipleship were going well until my company got acquired.

After trying for a year to adjust to new management, I decided to move on. My confidence in the China marketplace was shaken. I longed to work in a "clean" and more predictable environment, where I could trust my coworkers and bosses, and spend my time productively rather than second guessing or playing political games.

But my job search was going nowhere.  I began asking about meaning and my place in the marketplace. My calling to the marketplace hasn't changed. So what did I really want to do after 16 years in the IT sector? It's not a mid-life crisis, but a mid-career crisis.  Should I pursue some entrepreneurial opportunity or change fields and do something different? I needed clear career objectives. God knows how He has made me, what I am good at and what works for me.

My wife and I fasted and prayed. A few brothers prayed for me too and shared how God was faithful to them in the valley.  I experienced the fellowship of brothers in the marketplace. I became eager again for my next assignment with God as my senior partner and legal counsel.

Almost a year later, I found a new job. I went from a big multinational company to a family owned Chinese company. Between wearing multiple hats and having to meet sales quotas, it was all overwhelming and truly stressful. Seven challenging months passed, and my dream job finally came around. Today, I work closely with the CEO of my company to create more jobs for the local workforce and promote corporate social responsibility to help China’s impoverished areas – both of which I’m incredibly passionate about.

In three years, my career has taken me and my family from the Valley of Baca to a place of springs (Ps. 84:6). The valley humbled me, taught me to pray over every opportunity and seek faith for every challenge. During those tough years, God blessed our ministries in parenting, mentoring and prayer, all of them enjoying a wonderful harvest. In the throes of uncertainty, we've learned to hold fast to the One, in whom all things are certain.

 

Mike chaired the missions committee for many years. Now they are the first home-grown, empty nester tentmakers to go out from their home church.


There are challenges for Mike and Sharon, but there are rewards too. Together, they give new meaning to “The Golden Years”.

 

The Preparation and Waiting

As an energy and environmental resource management consultant, I had for years dreamed of contributing to the greening of China’s energy infrastructure as an energy and being a part of God's work there.

I took jobs with companies interested in the China market, hoping that they would place me overseas. Over the years, I traveled often to China, but my work was largely stateside. My wife and I kept praying, but it was getting frustrating.

Finally, the Lord showed me that perhaps the best way would be to move to China as an independent consultant. It would require using our retirement savings to support ourselves, but we would have more flexibility for ministry.

The decision was made. My wife took early retirement from the school district so that we could go together. 

The Surprise

Sharon had always envisioned her role in the mission field as a supportive wife. But God had plans for her too. Some Chinese Christians in our neighborhood were starting a center for children with special needs. With lots of heart but no training, they are desperate for help.

Sharon had been in special education for 15 years. She could get involved and access the needed resources from back home. It’s exciting to discover that this move to China is as much a calling for her as it is for me.

The Road Ahead

Our children and their families are all in California and we’ll be expecting our second grandchild soon. It’s hard being so far away, but we’re set on making China our home for the foreseeable future. Now that we’re here, we’re so sure there’s no other place we’re meant to be.

When Matt spent a year in language study before starting his tentmaking career in China, he made some interesting friends among his classmates—the son of a North Korean diplomat, an Egyptian businessman, and several zealous young Muslims from Yemen. 


The North Korean and Matt talked about world politics and the Christian faith. The Egyptian inquired about the Bible, and explained to Matt the difference between Sunni and Sh’ia beliefs. With his Yemeni classmates, Matt regularly debated late into the night as both sides were equally eager to convert the other. The Muslims respected Matt for being a serious Christ follower and defender of his faith.


When Matt went to attend Abu’s wedding, Abu thanked him in front of his bride: “I have learned so much from our friendship about business, management, and religion—both Christianity and Islam. The questions you asked me made me investigate my own faith.” Together with a Syrian doctor, they had long discussions on the trustworthiness of the Bible, the deity of Jesus and whether Christians and Muslims worshiped the same God.  At the end of Matt’s visit in Yemen, his friends encouraged him to return, saying: “We are open to all religions, you can have church here.”  


Matt never dreamed of entering Abu’s world.  But China’s megacities make it possible because they draw people from around the globe. Matt hopes to serve in China for the next 10-15 years.  But he is also seeking God about the Middle East for his next assignment.