Monday, January 03, 2011

A Sober Reminder

I just started reading a book titled A Hole in our Gospel. I am just a preface and one chapter in but believe the point of the attention grabbing title has already been well framed. If you are like me…Christian and actively trying to share your faith with others, the last thing you want to be told is that there is something wrong with the very Gospel you are presenting. And thankfully this author does no such thing. Instead he reminds us that Jesus asked more of us than just accepting Him and then going about our former lives. He asks that we clothe the naked, feed the poor, and to be His hands and feet to this fallen world. Richard Stearn's tone is mostly directed at we, the abundantly blessed American Christians, that tend to be isolated from the poverty and pain-stricken masses of the world. And we rightly deserve the reminder by my estimation.

Just today I had a gentleman name Michael Chu visit me in my staffing office. He did not have an appointment so I began instructing him on how to get set up with us and talked briefly about the kinds of jobs we may have available. He made mention of having lived here before and that he just recently moved back. So I asked a simple question.

“Where did you go and what brought you back?”

In my line of work it is not unusual to ask a simple question only to then get a life-story told to you. Depending on how Christ-like I am acting at the time, my reactions range from eye-rolling-get-to-the-point-gestures to sincere interest. This time I was sincerely interested and humbled as Mr. Chu explained how he was from China and that he had returned home briefly to try and find a wife and raise a family. Various failures and personal realizations led him back to America and specifically Dallas, Texas.

One particular issue he has with China is their education system. Upon moving here in his youth he could not believe that we had free schooling, free text books, free lunch, and even a bus that comes to pick us up and take us to receive this education. It would boggle his mind when a fellow student decided to drop out. In China they first have to take an entrance exam just to get into primary, middle, and high school. He didn’t say so but I must assume this means a failing test grade equates to no-entry and therefore no education at that level. He went on to explain that his family had to pay for him to go to school and that they also had to pay for transportation, food, and textbooks. Most of his textbooks were $300 each and written in English.

He and four other students and their families would order a book from America as a shared expense, receive it in the mail, make Xerox copies of each page, and then sell the book to a less fortunate student for 50% off. Once he had his make-shift book of copies, he then had to painstakingly translate the English to Chinese so that he could be sure that his answers and calculations were correct. And of course he had several books to go along with the number of classes so this process was multiplied depending on his course-load.

It’s no wonder that this man was so horrified at the idea that an American student with all his blessings and luxuries would even consider tossing that aside by dropping out. Mr. Chu concluded by saying, “This is the same guy that would later try to claim that he just never had an opportunity. How dare him!”

I must say, “Amen Mr. Chu. Amen.”

So between this unforeseen, walk-in visit and my book I am certain that my Americanized Christianity will be quite challenged. I recognize that I am blessed and that my education is not something to take for granted. But I wonder how many things I DO take for granted that will come to the forefront and be exposed as I continue to read? I actually welcome the experience and will most likely share with you again as I further gain perspective.


Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

TheEdge said...

Thanks Steve. I will be sure to visit and read!

Angela B. said...

As you may or may not know, I am an intern with the Public Defenders Office. Upon interviewing our clients, one of the questions is what is the highest level of education completed. 98% of the people answers were less than a high school diploma or even a GED. 25% of those who did not graduate did not even complete middle school. I wonder if there is correlation between this and the fact that they are in jail. And I truly believe that all of it has a lot to do with people who are lost.

TheEdge said...

I see the correlation as well in my staffing agency. We have lots of uneducated seeking labor positions with horrible criminal backgrounds. We try to give them a chance to prove themselves without writting them off but many times our clients get strict with their company policy and tie our hands.

Robyn B. said...

You and I should talk sometime Jim!:)

TheEdge said...

Will do!