Go Even Further

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Editor’s note: Sam and Aili Lin have been involved in full-time ministry in China, but in 2020, found themselves displaced due to COVID-19. They are in the U.S. for the time being (Sam is Singaporean-American, while Aili grew up in China), and have spent the last year-and-a-half working with international students.

They spoke with us earlier this year about evangelism and international student ministry. Today, they talk about their experiences with anti-Asian racism in the last year, and share a personal story of how their new home was rolled immediately after they moved in. They also shared how, in the midst of their anger and confusion about the incident, they powerfully experienced love from those around them.

Details and names have been changed to obscure Sam and Aili’s identity, and this interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.


China Partnership: As a Chinese-American, what does a meaningful interaction with the American church look like? 

Sam: We have had tons of these conversations these past year—racism is a huge topic. It’s easy to just say, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” (This is the same with us and with other minority cultures. It’s very easy to say, “I feel bad about what happened to y’all.”) But are we willing to say, “Tell me about your culture. What is good about it? What has been attacked in it?” It communicates love if you go one step further and try to understand where someone else is coming from. 


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“Are we willing to say, ‘Tell me about your culture. What is good about it? What has been attacked in it?’ It communicates love if you go one step further and try to understand where someone else is coming from…We have felt most thankful and loved when people take time to hear us, get to know us and our stories, and get to know our culture. 


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Say someone is mad about coronavirus. That person has something going on [inside himself] to make him mad. Instead of just attacking and condemning, we feel loved if someone comes along and says, “Tell me what is going on. What are you doing? What are you feeling?” People attack Asians, maybe because they lost their job because of COVID and have no money and their family is struggling. Of course they are going to be mad because this virus, that they believe came out of China, is affecting their lives. Let me hear them and be empathetic, as opposed to quickly condemning. Of course, the way they are handling it—we can talk about that, too—is not right. 

We have felt most thankful and loved when people take time to hear us, get to know us and our stories, and get to know our culture. 

CP: Could you talk about when your house was TP’d?

Sam: We had just moved in, and I didn’t know many people. I have very little to go from and very little evidence. If I knew the neighborhood or who was here, maybe I would have more idea of what happened. Immediately I thought, “What do people see right away? They see our Asian faces and the Christian flag I had just put up.” So I thought, “Maybe it’s one of those things.”

Our first reaction was to be mad and angry. But thankfully, by the Holy Spirit’s grace, he softened my heart. I began to think, “It’s probably just some high schoolers.” We reported it to the police, thinking maybe there was a string of TPing going on. But the police officer said, “Nope, you’re the only one.” The officer and I laughed, though, because we both said we had done this when we were in high school. That also softened my heart, because there are so many things that we get mad about, but when we pause and think, we have done the exact same thing.

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Immediately I thought, ‘What do people see right away? They see our Asian faces and the Christian flag I had just put up.’ So I thought, ‘Maybe it’s one of those things.’

Then I really thought about how someone had some reason to TP our house. People don’t just do things randomly, for no reason. I would love to hear their reasons. I want to meet the people who TP’d our house—if they have a problem with Asians or with Christianity, I want to hear them out. I’m curious. Thankfully, that was where the Holy Spirit led me, so I wasn’t mad and responding with vengeance.

The other cool thing that happened was that a lot of our neighbors cleaned the mess up for us. We had a meeting, so I did not have time to clean it up. Our neighbor a few doors down, who I had never met, came out with his ladder and cleaned most of it. Other neighbors that we had also never met dropped off some orange rolls. It was a nice welcome to the neighborhood. It’s a funny way to meet your neighbors, but it worked. 

At the end of the day, I still don’t know who did this, but I’m fine leaving it to the Lord. One day I do hope to meet them.

Aili: I feel the same way. At first I was scared and angry, thinking that maybe we were being targeted—but we didn’t know what we had done wrong. Maybe we offended someone and they were angry with us, but I don’t know what we did. I felt afraid that maybe they would target us and the kids again.

After the police came, I felt some release, but I was still mad. Sam had a good attitude, and we also prayed about it. That night, I had peace in my heart. I think it was funny, and I need to learn how to forgive others. I felt a big offense, but I need to let it go and forgive them. If they did it on purpose, it shows something is hurt in their hearts. If they did it to be funny because they were bored—well, that’s okay, too. 

Sam: Our neighbor also immediately gave us two cameras, which I was very thankful for.

Aili: I also experienced love from our neighbors. A neighbor who is a sister in the church came and took the paper out of the tree. She said to me, “You are welcome here and we love you,” and gave me a hug.

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“I also experienced love from our neighbors. A neighbor who is a sister in the church came and took the paper out of the tree. She said to me, ‘You are welcome here and we love you,’ and gave me a hug.

Sam: That is a good example of what I was talking about earlier. Online, a lot of random people who I haven’t met quickly said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, my family would never do such a thing.” That’s nice, but then there were the neighbors who came out with trash bags and ladders to clean everything up. That is harder. Those neighbors took an extra step to move toward us, hear us, and understand us. That is key. That is the love of Christ, and that’s what the world needs.

I appreciate the online comments, but those are easy. Those comments are justifying yourself and making yourself okay. But to go even further is the hard work of racial reconciliation and showing the love of Christ. It takes time and effort.


Sam and Aili Lin currently live in the States, but have been involved in ministry in China for many years. They have been married eight years, and have three children.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for Christians in America to go above and beyond in seeking to show love and care to their Asian and Asian-American neighbors.

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Further Reading

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The Internal Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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Qingdao: How to Pray
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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