It happened in the seminary. A newly arrived Chinese student was living in the seminary residence, taking courses at the university where the seminary was located. When not in class, James* would sit in the foyer where he had internet access. Finally, after a month of all of us seminary students walking by on the other side, barely noticing this shy, lonely student, a friend and fellow diaconal student got up the courage to introduce himself and become acquainted. Immediately, James’ face lit up and, in spite of broken English, a friendship began. My friend, Dan* began to visit with James regularly, going for coffee, playing board games, and inviting James to his home 150 km away on weekends.
Meanwhile, the rest of us were too busy with studies or our own social circles.
James’ English improved, as did his spirits. One year, James introduced Dan to a young Chinese woman, his fiance, also studying in Canada.
After eight years of ongoing friendship Dan and his wife were invited to attend James’ and his fiance’s wedding. In China. “You get yourselves to Shanghai and we’ll take care of the rest,” James said.
*not their real names
O God, liberate us from ambition for power and recognition, and liberate us to become genuine and welcoming servants. Amen. — HV