Before I came to China, I imagined living in the middle of a Hui village and being totally immersed in their culture each and every day so that sharing the Gospel would be a natural part of everyday life. Instead, our family moved to a mega city where there are about 500,000 Hui – and that number is only a small fraction of the 22 million people living in the city.
In our city, it seems like all we have to do to meet Hui people is walk outside. We have Hui neighbors everywhere; they own restaurants, sell bread and fruit and vegetables (deliciousness of all sorts), ride their bikes to and from work. Every day, we pass by Hui women with their colorful head coverings and Hui men with their elaborately decorated caps.
“So this is life on the frontlines.”
This is what crossed my mind as I sat on Nai Nai’s couch, enjoying a hot cup of eight treasure tea and snacking on delicious bread, waiting for her to finish cooking dinner. Nai Nai is my seventy year-old neighbor who has taken it upon herself to take me in and love on me like only a grandmother can.
Sometimes living in China can be difficult – and there are several ways you can define ‘difficult.’
One of those is that your basic daily activities take a lot more time and energy than in the United States, which can easily be called the land of convenience. My kitchen here is narrow and small, and my refrigerator looks more like my college mini-fridge than the beautiful machine my mother used when I was growing up
Here I am seven years later and that phrase still echoes in the dark recesses of my brain. Adventure? Is my life an adventure? I feel like I can say that there have been moments along this path that have definitely felt adventurous. Taking a train across the country to live in my friend’s hut and shoo the chickens out of her bathroom so I can use her squatty potty – That’s an adventure. Not a glamorous one, but it makes for a good story to tell in my newsletters back home.
I realized recently that I know very little about Islam. Six months ago, my exposure to Muslims was limited to what I saw on the news, the men and women I saw sometimes when I traveled, and other people’s opinions. If anyone had asked me then about the Hui people in particular, I’d have asked, “The who people?” Even living among the Hui now, sometimes it’s easy to make broad assumptions about how they might react to the Gospel, about what they believe, about their character.