Tentmaking for Singles: Mike

Mike, IT Manager

Single but Undeterred

Mike was 17 when he left China to immigrate to the U.S. with his parents. When he came to faith as a working adult, the Lord put it in Mike’s heart to serve Him in China – not just anywhere in China, but rural West China.

After a few years of searching and waiting, a job opportunity with an IT company came for Mike to go to China. The urban location is far away from the countryside that he envisioned, but it did not deter him from going. He saw it as an entry point and decided to take off.

Although being single also did not deter him from going, he did not want to go without support. So he decided to join our network for fellowship and accountability.

His departure for China was delayed, however, when his father suffered a heart attack. His parents are not believers. When his father got better, they let him go, knowing how much Mike wanted to work in China.

God’s Encouragement

Working with other engineers, mostly single men from all over the country who want a piece of prosperity in one of China’s growing high tech areas, Mike got to enter their world and become their friend. He ran a seekers’ club with other associates who worked there, and saw several colleagues come to faith.

But Mike never forgot his destination. Every year he would make a couple of short term trips to the West. How Mike longs to stay there. After all, he has left his heart in West China long ago! He must patiently wait for the right door to open.

More Deterrents

He is also waiting for a godly wife who shares his passion for the West, a place that is physically harsher and spiritually more challenging. Even his unbelieving parents are hoping for a wife to go with him.

Then his father’s health worsened. He now has Parkinson’s Disease on top of his heart problems. Not wanting to leave the care of his parents to his sister who has a young family while he is single and mobile, Mike was prepared to return to the U.S. for a season. Besides, both parents wanted to see more of Mike.

God’s Amazing Grace

But God had better plans. Mike’s company allowed him to work between the China and the U.S. office, months at a time. He could even telecommute from his parents’ house. So Mike was able to take his father to his weekly doctor’s visits. Then, his sister found a place for the parents to live near her, thus relieving Mike to stay in China after all.

His extended absence from his workplace also had a side benefit: It gave local believers a chance to step up and lead the seekers’ club with Mike supporting them on the side!

Deterrents Continue

The home stay taught Mike a lot about caring for his parents. They don’t mind him being in China, although one concern remains – for Mike to find a wife.

Mike’s metaphor for life is a marathon. Speed is not as important as running for the Lord and finishing the race with joy. He feels called to be a part of the “Back to Jerusalem Movement” which envisions bringing the Good News across the interior of China, across Central Asia and the Middle East to where it all began.

Several exploratory trips to major cities in the West have not yielded a suitable long term professional or ministry platform. After much prayer, Mike decided to relocate to another city where he hopes to find a career and a like-minded ministry team for his journey to the West.

God’s Guidance Continues

2010 signifies a new decade for Mike personally because almost exactly ten years ago, he came to know the Lord. While the first five years saw him searching and struggling to understand God’s will in his life, the second five years saw him in China, still struggling, but experiencing more and more of His grace.

Serving with a team in the new location has helped Mike to recognize the need for further equipping. So Mike has decided to invest the next two years in seminary training.

Still Single but Undeterred

Now he is adjusting to life as a student again. With lectures, reading assignments and exams, he finds the pace just as fast as working for a high tech company. He has this conviction from the get-go, that nothing, not even seminary studies, should take away his time with the Lord. One of his reasons for going to seminary is to develop habits, disciplines and a rhythm that can be sustained in his future ministries.

He had managed the ups and downs of working as an engineer in China rather well. He hopes the lessons learned will continue to serve him well as he looks forward to the next decade.

By the way, Mike has recently started dating a Chinese-American teacher. Kitty was introduced to him by fellow associates. She is likewise committed to long term service in West China and taking time off for seminary training. Being in the same city now, they can pursue their relationship as they wait for God’s guidance regarding the next steps.

Reflection

  • Is singleness deterring you from serving God in China?
  • What are other deterrents in your life of service?
  • How has God spoken to you and encouraged you through Mike’s story?