Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Country Reports

Today is the last day of my organization's annual Thailand conference. One of my favorite parts of the conference is hearing Country Reports from the six countries we work in.

China is the big giant of the organization, representing 85% of our teachers. In our country report, we looked back at 2009 -- a year of sensitive anniversaries, H1N1 scares, and ethnic unrest. Each of these affected us in different ways. For example, many schools were locked down for weeks because of H1N1, keeping students on campus and forcing teachers to find creative ways to meet with students outside of class. We were fortunate not to have such stringent measures in Qufu, but H1N1 was a constant inconvenience.

Looking ahead, we learned about China's rapid urbanization. More people now live in cities than in the countryside. China has more than 150 cities of over 1 million people. Because of this, our leaders want to focus more of our resources in the cities, hoping to have an impact "from the campus, through the city, to the world." I like living in a country that changes so fast, and I love this new vision for our work.

We have also been blessed by stories from our other countries. Yesterday, the Laos team shared about a drug rehabilitation home they have helped to establish to serve the large population of addicts and give them new hope. Another couple spoke about the journey God led them on to adopt a young Lao baby with only one arm. The Mongolia team shared about how they have been partnering with local fellowships to serve the local body. The Cambodia team told us their vision of opening up their homes for students to live with them, as student housing is scarce and they want more opportunities to share their whole lives with the people they serve.

I've been struck by how many of the stories I heard happened outside the classroom. My fellow teachers are doing things like business ethics seminars, parenting classes, leadership clubs, orphan care, drama consulting, and more. I wonder how we in Qufu can also look outside our campus gates to serve the whole city.