Last week I had the opportunity to visit missionaries Mark Tolson and Ben Johnson, both OGTC alumni, and take a group with me to see what God has done in the country of China. I can honestly say that this trip was excellent. It was really exciting to see what God is doing there in China. As many of you know China is a “closed country,” and planting a church is not the popular trend there. Many people are going to China as English teachers to share their faith, but the church-planter in China is almost non-existent. I first visited China about 3 years ago, and, to be honest, there was some fear in my heart when I went to China that first time. The thought of going to a Communist country where there was constant surveillance and the underground church was being persecuted had a small hold on my heart and mind. The trip this time was not like that at all. There was no fear. What God is doing through Mark and Ben is incredible, and I would like to showcase what I saw while I was in China.
Mark, the veteran missionary, has been in China for the last seven years. During that time he has learned Mandarin, the Chinese language. Mark is very proficient in the language. Our group spent at least 30 hours teaching the Bible during our short stay. Mark kept up the entire time and translated even the difficult concepts of the Bible. He has worked to make books in Chinese and preaches from outlines using Chinese characters. The fact that he can explain imputation, justification, and many more doctrines of the Bible in Mandarin is very impressive to me. I know getting to this point in his language ability has meant a great deal of sacrifice and discipline on his end.
Ben Johnson is not yet a veteran missionary but he has been in China for a year and half so far, He also worked very hard translating for our group. He could read the characters and translated for our group on Wednesday and was nothing short of very impressive. Ben and his wife have been working on this language and have done a great job. Mark expressed how impressed he was with Ben’s ability to pick up the language.
During my visit I was overwhelmed with the organization and the purposeful programing that Mark has setup in the ministry in China. Mark has set up a church. During our visit, we saw at least 50 Chinese people attending the service. Considering China is a closed country, see such a great attendance was incredible. The church has an assistant pastor and they are able to support him financially. There are two men who have surrendered to full-time ministry and are studying in the Seminary there with Mark. These two men have given up lucrative careers to follow the Lord in full-time service. Mark has created his own discipleship material that is uniquely designed to help the Chinese taking into account that they lack the biblical foundation many people have in America. Mark has an “English Corner” every Sunday night which brings in at least 30 people a week for the specific purpose of allowing them the opportunity to hear the gospel. The English Corner was one of the highlights of the visit for me. Getting to sit around with my small group and tell people who have never heard the gospel story about Jesus was truly a highlight of my life. Wednesday evening we had the opportunity to tell the story of Jonah to 9 people, 7 of which had never heard the story of a merciful and gracious God. These programs, and all the others in the Chinese church, serves a purpose and is intentionally planned to give the gospel to those who’ve never heard and to grow the Chinese believers.
On the last day of our trip with Mark and Ben, I had the opportunity to visit the border of China and North Korea. We went to the city of Dandong, a city with a population of 2 million. My heart broke to think that just on the other side of the river was one of the most spiritually dark places in the world. I began to beg God to open the borders and take down the oppressive regime there in North Korea. I asked the Lord to prepare the men that He would send in this needy field. While in Dandong, the evangelist Mark took us to a North Korean restaurant where we were served by some North Korean ladies. Mark gave the gospel to these ladies, but their response was heart breaking. They mocked us and Jesus. They had already been indoctrinated about Jesus and weren’t about to hear to the gospel. One of the men that went on the trip with us said the only thing that he could think about was his two daughters. What if his daughters has been born in North Korea and never had a chance to hear the gospel? What if the only time that they would hear of Jesus would have been from a false teacher that spreads lies about our Savior? My heart breaks for this country, and I can’t wait until the doors open in Korea.
My trip in China was awesome. To get to see my friends, Mark and Ben, and what they are doing in China was challenging to me. I see God working there in China and working through my friends. It is truly exciting! I can’t wait until we train and send more men to China. God is at work, and I am excited to have a small part as He advances His kingdom. Please be in prayer for this great country, China. Please be in prayer for my friends Mark and Ben and please consider what you can do for world evangelism.
Director of OGTC