The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Gracious gardening

Lutheran teacher finds new sons and daughters in China

Students and friends often called me lao wan tong when I taught at Ningde Teachers College. Literally translated as "old fun bucket," lao wan tong describes an older person with a youthful sense of fun.

During three years as a volunteer English teacher in China, I often used jokes to nurture and amuse my students. Sponsored by the ELCA Division for Global Mission, I taught English at the two-year college through the Amity Teachers Program of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

I was to prepare all 108 of my students to be competent English teachers. Many didn't want to teach, but their middle school exam scores did not qualify them for a good four-year college. Deeply disappointed, they often weren't highly motivated. I tried to help them become creative, compassionate servant leaders who could joyfully serve communities, often in poor and remote areas for little pay.

For Amity teachers, this means providing a ministry of teaching and of presence, living a Christian life by our attitudes and actions.

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