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The Joy of Serving

November 2, 2010

This past month I have been very busy editing over 30 reports for the Amity Foundation’s 25th anniversary. While Amity has a lot to be proud of, the highlight of the event will be the printing of the 80 millionth Bible in China. That’s not a typo, 80,000,000 Bibles. Amity not only prints all of the Bibles for the China Christian Council, but also sends Bibles in dozens of languages to other parts of Asia, Africa, and South America. Through this effort, accurate and complete Bibles are available and affordable for all Chinese Christians.

Amity though is not just a printing press. The part that most Americans are familiar with, and the one that I am a part of, is the education department. One of their major programs is sending qualified English teachers from the US and other English speaking countries to work in China’s rural teacher colleges. My wife and I both worked in Guangxi, one of China’s least developed provinces, for two years before working in Chengdu and Nanjing. We have seen first-hand the effects of this kind of work. For example in one year I had 320 students, if even a third of those students spend their lives as teachers their impact will be felt by hundreds of thousands. Amity has been doing this for 25 years.

More than the sheer numbers, we get to see our impact at an individual level. I had a student last year who was suffering from enormous pressure from her family and classmates and was in a deep depression. In classes I was able to provide her with opportunities to talk through some of her problems and encourage her. Last week I received an email from her that she had been able to find a good paying job, and now can help her family relieve their economic problems.

I had another student who was not only the first person in her village to go to college, but was the first in her village to finish high school. Her dream is to return to her village and be their most qualified teacher, and some of the villagers already address her as such. This spring she will graduate, and bring new opportunities home. Her neighbors will no longer have to send their children out of town for their middle school education.

This October we had the chance to visit with some of the teachers working in Inner Mongolia, even though the cities are large, its industry is largely coal mining and steel production. Outside of the cities, there are still many Mongolians living a semi-nomadic life. Their children often lack access to well trained teachers, which limits their future opportunities. Amity’s work will greatly help these minorities by increasing the number of English teachers, meaning that these people will no longer have to move to the city to access quality education for their children. I think this idea of providing opportunities while enabling traditional lifestyles really makes Amity a unique NGO in China.

Even though I do not proselytize, as I am restricted by law from doing so, many of my students have become Christian. As I noticed in my first school, even though I had only taught my students about Christmas and Easter, all of the Christians were from classes taught by foreign teachers. I still remember the night I bumped into a student on campus and she asked me to pray for her mother who was ill. She asked me to pray for her, and I suggested that we could pray together. At first she hesitated to join me since she didn’t know how. After that I saw her in church every week. As an Amity teacher I get to serve as a link between the Christian community and the students.

Throughout this week leading up to the anniversary I will be writing more about Amity’s work in China. It is my joy to serve them on behalf of the Disciples of Christ and the UCC.

Tom Morse

Tom Morse serves with the Amity Foundation of China as an English teacher.  

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