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Johnson County missionary travels to China

Carol Sue Billingsley recently returned from a two-month mission trip that took her into the heart of China. A resident of Johnson County, she attends a Christian college in northeast Tennessee and is majoring in Chinese studies and English as a second language.  Their trip was twofold as Billingsley, along with 12 of her classmates and their professor, ventured deep into China not only as part of their studies, but to introduce Jesus Christ to the people.

China is under the rule of the Communist Party of China.  According to Billingsley, if you have joined the Communist party, you receive more pay than those who do not.  “If you want to have a good life, you join the party,” she said.   She reports there is a lot of abuse, sexual, mental and physical with a high suicide rate. Abuse has become an accepted way of life for the people of the country and they consider the abusive behavior as normal.  It happens in the streets and no one reacts to it. “People don’t do anything to stop it,” she said as she recalled an incident the group witnessed. Despite the high incidence of abuse, Billingsley reports the younger generation has a lot of respect for the elderly.

According to Billingsley, the government recognizes the Three-Self church that is run by the Chinese government where they pick and choose what is taught to the Chinese people.  “Most all our friends in China were atheist,” she said.  There were others who worship Buddha, while others believe in science.  According to Billingsley, people can be imprisoned or executed if they are caught practicing Christianity.  “It’s very dangerous for them,” she said, explaining that prisoners are subjected to hard labor and re-education.  Because of the nature of the article, The Tomahawk has been specifically vague on any information that would associate the group with the people they encountered while on their trip for the safety of the Chinese people.

Groups of four were housed  in very basic international two-bedroom apartments for students that included a living room, kitchen and a bathroom with a shower.  The Chinese people, especially children, were intrigued with Billingsley’s curly red hair, an oddity in their country. In order to effectively communicate with the local people, the American students went to class fives days a week, four hours a day to get a basic understanding of the Chinese language in order to converse with them.   Although a rarity in their world, they were receptive to Americans.  “They loved Americans,” Billingsley said.  It is inexpensive to eat in the area of China they were visiting, spending about $1.00 for a decent sized meal. “A very popular thing is to drink tea with everyone,” she said. “It’s kind of like southern hospitality here.”  The climate is fairly hot and everyone walks around with an umbrella.  “They don’t want to get a tan,” she added. “They are modest.”

As the group mingled with some of the youth of the area where they were staying and began to make friends, they would introduce the topic of Christianity only if they were approached and asked about God. The group held Bible studies that were held twice a week.  There were two classes offered, one for those who were curious about learning about Jesus and one for believers as they explored what is and who is God, taking a look at the character of God.  At the very beginning, they had approximately 20 in their class that eventually expanded to roughly 40 in each group.  

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.