I met Ma on my first day of work as a professional in China. He was very kind to me and helped me feel welcome by speaking English with me as much as possible, and I was very thankful for his efforts. I think he and others could sense how overwhelmed I was with limited language skills in an almost all Chinese-speaking work environment. As I got to know Ma and others in our department, I realized that he was our only Hui colleague. I couldn’t tell by looking at him or even talking to him at first, but when lunchtime came, I noticed that he never joined the rest of us. When I asked him about it, he said he either brought his lunch or went out, because our cafeteria was not halal. One day I went with him to eat noodles, so that I could get to know him better and learn more about his beliefs. Like many other Hui that I have encountered, Ma doesn’t go to the mosque or pray five times a day. He doesn’t read the Quran or fast consistently during Ramadan. But one thing is for certain, he doesn’t eat pork!
Even though many Hui do not celebrate the big Chinese holidays, they often take advantage of the time off work to gather with their families for meals. Ma invited me to join him and his family for a meal during one of these holidays. I was honored that they wanted to include me for a special family dinner. They subsequently invited me to other meals during important holidays, and they always made me feel as if I had a “home away from home” in their city. They were so kind and hospitable, a wonderful trait that I have found to be true of all of my Hui friends.
Through a connection at work, Ma met a very genuine follower of Christ. This Chinese-American was temporarily in our city on business. They became good friends, and Ma’s new friend invited him to visit during some upcoming travels to the U.S. Ma was eager to study abroad and had been planning and preparing for months to take a scouting trip to the States, so he readily accepted the invitation. During the visit, Ma was invited to stay with his new friend and his family for the whole month. Ma was so excited as he told me later all about his visit to the U.S. He said his friend’s family was so hospitable and took him to see many famous places in their area of the country. They kept him well-fed and made sure that he got to visit all of the schools that he wanted to see. But most important of all, they allowed Ma to see and experience Christ in a tangible way.
During the visit, Ma participated in their daily family devotionals, attended church with them twice a week, and he was able to observe his friend’s marriage and how they parent their children according to the Bible. Ma also got to meet other Christians during his visit.
Although Ma is not yet a follower of Christ, his experience definitely made a lasting impression on him, and it opened the door for many conversations to follow. Please join me in praying for Ma and other professionals like him; pray that they will have many opportunities to encounter Christ in their workplaces and that their hearts will be open to receive the message of salvation.