SEMO SBU taking the Gospel to China
CAPE GIRARDEAU – Four years ago, when China was gripped with fear over the SARS outbreak, Bob Houchins had other things on his mind. While there, he had two realizations.
“First, a vision for what could happen to fulfill the Great Commission if the people of China could be reached,” said Houchins, director of Southeast Missouri State University’s Baptist Student Union. “The second is a vision for raising-up new generations of missionaries by taking students to China.”
The first vision is up to God, but on June 28 Houchins and seven students from the SEMO BSU continued to fulfill the second.
It marks Houchins’ fifth trip to China in five years teaching English as a second language. Ricky Nyhoff, Justin Barnes, Melissa James, Michelloe Moon, Pat Krueger, Jessica Loos, MacKenzie Jones and Houchin will be teaching in two cities on China’s eastern coast this year, Fuding and Wenzhou.
“Fuding is an ongoing work,” Hounchins said. “We have very good relationships there and we can freely share the Gospel in the classroom. Wenzhou is a new city to teach in. God has opened a door into this city and we are excited about the increased opportunity to share.”
The team will spend five hours each day in classes helping Chinese students learn English. After class, they just hang out and spend time with the students.
“They ask us all kinds of questions,” Houchins said. “They always want to know what kind of music we listen to or what we do on the weekends. These things all open doors of conversation and we hope to use that as a vehicle to present the Gospel.”
Houchins recalled an instance where he realized the full impact he was having.
“A young man told me that until yesterday, he had never seen a foreigner. He said he will always remember that his first words to a foreigner were ‘Hi, Bob.’ God showed me just how much of an influence I was.
“I’ve seen that realization in all the students who go. It can happen anywhere, but raising up a generations of leaders and doing it in China is my heart.”
That addresses Houchins’ second vision. Now back to the first.
“There is a tremendous potential for Chinese Christians to grow and reach their country and beyond,” he said. “Some of the churches there have a missionary focus called “Back to Jerusalem,” where they are working to spread the Gospel from their city all the way back to Jerusalem. They have that hunger.”
But while Houchins said he sees China as “a field white for the harvest,” he doesn’t think it will remain that way forever. He said the country’s increasing materialism and wealth may lead to a stagnation, like in the United States.
“It’s sad watching Chinese culture change,” he said. “In recent years they’ve become much more materialistic and it’s becoming destructive. They are losing their sense of family. Materialism is replacing atheism as China’s god. They’re becoming like us. In five years, I think they will have lost their hunger for the Gospel.”