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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Quiet faith

How do you explain Christianity to someone in a place where you're not permitted to name the name Jesus? This is the challenge retired nursing-school teacher Nancy Whitacre faces, and overcomes by following the simple adage: "Actions speak louder than words."

Whitacre leaves for China in August — for the second time she'll be teaching English to students at Inner Mongolia University in Huh Hot. Many of the students have shown an interest in Christianity, but the university required Whitacre to sign an agreement that she would not evangelize while teaching there.

So she lets her love for her students and her acts of kindness do the talking. "If my students ask me why I'm so happy, I tell them that it's because of my faith," said Whitacre, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Westerville, Ohio.

Whitacre knows several Chinese who converted to Christianity, but one young man's journey is the most memorable. Government officials killed his father, who refused to move the family out of their apartment, which they were told was going to be torn down.

Knowing of her faith, the young man asked Whitacre to read the Bible with him, which she knew to be a dangerous proposition. "We went to the park, and I hid the Bible under a paper and read it," she said. "He was very impressed with what he heard and wanted to know more."

Today the young man leads a Bible study for other students, and he has told Whitacre that he has forgiven the men who killed his father.

"He knows Christ died for his sins," she said. "He loves Jesus and says it's too bad something so terrible had to happen to open his eyes to Christianity."

Whitacre, who volunteers independently, is supported financially by her congregation.

Many of her students in China have told her they want to be just like her. "Nothing could make me happier," she said. "That means my Christianity is showing."


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