Several years ago while teaching a course at the University of Maryland, I became aware of a group of Chinese Americans who took it on themselves to personally welcome every international Chinese student to the school. They’d do airport pick-ups, get-togethers, parties and field trips.
It was a godsend for the new arrivals in more ways than one. First, they instantly had a group of friends that spoke their language.
Secondly, this group was made up of evangelical Christians whose mission was to see that before these students returned to China four years later, they’d gotten exposure to a Christianity they’d never get to see in their native land. I was dimly aware of similar groups doing similar outreaches on other campuses, but not until I saw a pair of articles from Foreign Policy magazine on foreignpolicy.com, did I realize how wide the evangelistic net is spread.
The magazine has come up with two very detailed stories of how Chinese students are flooding into private secondary U.S. schools with the full knowledge and blessing of their atheist parents and how the vast amounts of Chinese studying in American universities have turned out to be an enormous mission field for American Christian groups. The first piece starts thus:
It is no secret that Chinese students are pouring into the United States; over 300,000 of them attended U.S. colleges and universities in 2015 alone, and Chinese are filling up spots in U.S secondary schools in search of a better education and an easier route into U.S. universities. Less widely known is that at the secondary level, most Chinese attend Christian schools -- even though they come from the world’s largest atheist state.
Because of restrictions on foreign student enrollment in U.S. public high schools, Chinese secondary students headed Stateside overwhelmingly attend private institutions. And Chinese parents don’t seem to care if that institution has a Christian underpinning.