A trip to China gave an Adventist tour group opportunities to share Christ.
By Robert G. Wearner
The group had just cleared customs, and a young woman greeted them with the words, “Welcome to China!” A tour group of 19 American Adventists had just arrived in Shanghai, China, the last day of May 1996. Liu Jun, the smiling young official guide, introduced herself and took them to their hotel. Informed of their desire to attend church the next day, she said that a bus would take them to the large Mu En church.
After seating the group in Sabbath school, she slipped away to do some shopping.
Fluent in English, the 28-year-old guide had led many tour groups during the four years she had worked for the China Rainbow Travel Service. But this was her first Adventist group, and little did she know how, through them, her life would be forever changed.
Open to the Spirit
Asked if she had any concept of a supreme being at the time of her first contact with these people, Jun stated flatly, “No!” Then she added, “Well, yes, I believed that a god existed, but I didn’t know who he was. I was taught that religion was not important.”
For 16 days Jun guided the group to the scenic wonders of her country. They climbed the Great Wall, inspected the Forbidden City of Beijing, toured theSummer Palace, walked in Tiananmen Square, took a boat ride down the Li River, visited the famous silk factory in Suzhou, and many other sites.
TOUR LEADER: Liu Jun, tour leader for an Adventist
group filming a segment for Mission Spotlight,
learned about God from those on the tour.
The group spent its second Sabbath at the ancient walled city of Xi’an, meeting in a former Baptist church. The congregation filled the sanctuary while many others sat on benches in the patio, even though it was raining. This time Jun stayed to listen to the robed choir, and heard her first Adventist sermon, delivered by a young lay member about her age.
The tour went by quickly, and before Jun left the Adventist group in Guangzhou (Canton), they almost seemed like family.
As they parted with tears, Jun confided to them her desire to earn a degree in business in theUnited States. The next year, Pastors Carl Currie and John Hanson were invited to join Mission Spotlight to film a program about China. Again, Jun met with them and expressed her desire to attend college in the United States.
In 1998 Pastors Currie and Hanson organized another China tour. Jun was again assigned to guide them through Beijing. As she showed the group the sites of the city, Hanson agreed to visit the American Embassy with Jun to assist her as her sponsor as she applied for her student visa.
They met at the American Embassy at 5:00 on Friday morning. Already 350 people were lined up to apply for visas. By the time they arrived at the front gate of the compound, more than 1,500 people lined the streets.
After waiting eight hours in the hot sun, Jun appeared before her interviewer. The interview lasted less than two minutes, and her visa was denied. Jun was devastated. Pastor Hanson then began “going up the ladder” until he reached the highest authority at the American Embassy to appeal the interviewer’s decision. While the appeal was in progress, the entire Adventist tour group prayed that God’s will be done.
God intervened on Jun’s behalf, the interviewer’s denial was overturned, and the coveted visa was granted. The group had left Beijing and was on the boat cruise down the Yangtze River when word reached them that Jun had her visa in hand.
On this tour, Jun introduced her Chinese family to the group. Jun’s husband, parents, and sister met the Adventists at a restaurant the Saturday night before they left Beijing. All well-educated, Jun’s family expressed their appreciation for what had been done for her.
In July 1998 Jun left Beijing and made her way to America. Tour leader Hanson met her at San Francisco and escorted her to his home in Hahira, Georgia. There she met his wife and attended her first American Adventist church service. She listened to Hanson preach a sermon entitled “Everlasting Love.” At the conclusion he baptized a young person, which provided Jun her first opportunity to observe a baptism by immersion. Even though she didn’t understand all its significance, Hanson told her, “One of these days I want the privilege of baptizing you, Jun.”
Southern Adventist University (SAU) in Collegedale, Tennessee, accepted Jun as a business major. Thelma Cushman Wearner, a retired teacher from SAU, offered her room and board. Their bonding made a great impact on Jun’s life.
“I have always been adventurous,” says Jun. “So when I lived with Mom Cushman, I tried to respect her beliefs, even though at the time they did not make sense to me. I attended religious classes and went to church, but I really did not understand the Bible principles. I observed that the Adventist people were always kind and loving. When I went to visit the Hansons and the Curries, they had such a loving way about them. I shared this with my parents in China, and they were pleased. They could tell a change for good was taking place in my life, and they were grateful.”
After a successful year at SAU, Jun transferred to California’s Pacific Union College (PUC) in the Napa Valley. Eventually her husband was able to get a visa, and he joined her in California. In time the couple welcomed a daughter whom they named Yang Yang.
The former tour guide took their little daughter to her kindergarten Sabbath school week by week. Yang Yang began to learn about Jesus, Friend of children, and her mother and father also began to understand more about the love of the Savior. Life for Jun began to take on new meaning. Members of the pastoral staff of the college church answered the more difficult theological questions, while those with whom she worked at the college store demonstrated Christian love and made a great impact upon her life.
“Over the years, the many friends I made among students and faculty gave me constant support,” she says, “and I found myself more and more interested in religion.”
After earning a degree in business in 2003, Jun was employed as an accountant at the college store. After studying the doctrines of the church, she asked Pastor Hanson, former tour leader, to baptize her. She was baptized in May 2006.
It took almost a decade from her first contact with that Adventist tour group inShanghai to become part of God’s family. Several hundred of Jun’s friends and church family of the PUC church stood as she was baptized and welcomed her into the family of God.
Robert G. Wearner, a retired pastor, writes from Collegedale, Tennessee (USA).