Sometimes people see my face or hear my accent and assume that I started sending teachers to China because I am Chinese. What they may not realize is that none of this was my dream. I was raised in Taiwan and my dream was to be a teacher. But God had a different career planned for me.
In 1970, my family immigrated to the U.S. Like most immigrants, I faced many challenges in this new land: learning English, finding a job, getting married and getting a degree. In 1978, I got a California teaching credential and an enjoyable teaching job.
In 1979, the U.S. established a formal diplomatic relationship with the People’s Republic of China, which opened the door for Americans to visit. This open door excited former missionaries who had been deported from China in the early 1950s. A group of them, led by the late David Adeney, formed the “Pray for China Fellowship” in Berkeley. David needed a Chinese secretary to read letters sent from China and for the second time I gave up my new teaching career because I was open to God’s calling.
In 1981, my husband, Michael, and I made our first trip to China. During that trip. I met many of David Adeney’s Christian friends, who had been released from labor camps or prisons. When I met them I asked, “What can I do for China as a Chinese-American Christian?” All of them answered, “Chinese universities are open for foreign teachers. Tell Christians to come to teach.”
When I got home, I gathered my friends and shared this calling. Very quickly, we formed “Friends of the Tentmakers” in 1983. Our goal was to tell Christians about the opportunity to teach in China. I went to different ministry organizations, asking for them to loan us a staff member who could serve as a director, but no one could help. In 1983, I received a letter from the late Dr. James Taylor at OMF. He said, “This is your calling and vision, so you should run the organization.” I found this challenge very discouraging. I was a pregnant woman with no resources, experience, training, or skills. How could I run an organization?
However, God knew what He was doing. Just before my son was born, Dr. Harvey and Nina Taylor volunteered to be directors and served for 2 years before the door opened for them to return to China. As they departed, they again urged me to take the directorship. I had little choice and accepted it with reluctance in 1985.
Even though many had encouraged me, I couldn’t help but feel I was not up to the task. I decided I would resign. As I was typing my resignation letter, the telephone rang, and I heard that brother Kao, Xiaowen had donated $10,000 to Friends of the Tentmakers before selling everything to move to China to serve. I stopped my resignation letter and called a board meeting, ready to hear God’s plan for the next step. At that board meeting, we decided to reincorporate as an educational organization, and ERRC was officially born in 1986.
I traveled to China in the winter of 1986 with 35 resumes in my hand but no relationships at China’s universities. After days of scrutinizing my background, government officials met with me. I told them that all of ERRC’s teachers were Christians, and that they wanted to offer educational services in China. I told them that we understood that it was illegal to proselytize in China. But then I asked them directly: “If students ask questions, can our teachers answer?” They responded, “Yes, they may not preach, but they can answer the students’ questions.” Then they gave me a list of people I should contact to place teachers in China. I was shocked to see that they were at China’s leading universities!
By the end of my trip, all 35 potential teachers were placed at major universities in China. Since that time, we have built on these relationships in China’s major cities because of our reputation. Now we have 10 teams 7 cities: Beijing, Tianjin, Jinan, Taian, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Kumning. Yet, we have only filled a small fraction of the demand. Because of the quality and dedication of ERRC teachers, we have many more openings than we have been able to fill. Universities today are requesting even more foreign professors to teach various subjects in English, and more qualified teachers are needed.
Since 1986, our vision has remained the same: to touch the heart and soul of China by inspiring, educating and equipping its future leaders. We have continued to cooperate with the Chinese government, and registered with SAFEA (China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) in 1994. China has at least 100 high ranking universities. Universities today are requesting even more foreign professors to teach various subjects, e.g. business and science, literature in English. Sending teachers and professors to high-ranking universities is the most fundamental and critical aspect of ERRC’s vision. To fulfill our vision, we must find teachers willing to go, raise financial resources and dedicated prayer supporters. I invite you to be a part of our strategic and effective ministry.