By Laura McKillip Wood
Paige* didn’t start life planning to be a missionary. In fact, her family did not attend church regularly when she was a child, but she did attend an occasional Vacation Bible School or church event. Distant relatives who were believers prayed for her when she was a child though. God answered their prayers when Paige became a believer in high school, but she still did not get involved in serving Christ until her senior year of college at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. She studied to be an elementary school teacher, but, as Paige put it, “While in college I had always been drawn to people from different cultures.”
God’s Plan Emerges
In 2012, God began using that interest. Paige accompanied her aunt and uncle on a mission trip to Kenya with Christian Missionary Fellowship International (CMF). After that, she was hooked! She applied for an internship with CMF and was accepted to work as an intern in China that summer. “I basically just prayed that if God wanted me to do it, he would make it happen and show me where he wanted me to go.” She ended up spending two of the following summers in China. During that time she fell in love with the Chinese people and the ministry.
“While there last summer, I read the story of Gideon and realized I was much like him. God had given me numerous confirmations that he wanted me to return long-term to China as a Marketplace Minister to work with the CMF team already in place.” Paige returned after last summer’s trip with plans to leave for full-time work in China this fall.
The Church in China
Christianity is legal in China, but the Chinese government keeps tight control over the churches. Today in China, Christian churches must register with the government. Because of that, the communist government can control what the church does. Those churches that choose not to register and thus retain some control and independence are considered “underground” churches. China does not issue missionary visas, so anyone wishing to work with the churches must enter on a student or work visa.
Paige plans to study Mandarin while in China, so she will apply for a student visa. Through the contacts she makes, she will work “to teach English through God’s Word and to shepherd and disciple nationals in their individual walks with Jesus.”
Adjustment to Cross-Cultural Life
Paige needs a good support network in the U.S. and in China. She said that her friends here in America support her work and have anticipated for a long time her decision to move to China. “Most of my friends all said they saw it coming after my first summer in China,” she said. Her family supports her decision as well, even if they sometimes do not completely understand it.
Once Paige arrives in China, she will join the team already working in the area where she will live. This team includes missionaries as well as nationals. They will provide valuable insight into adjustment to the culture. Two other new women will join her as she moves, so together they will all experience learning how to live cross-culturally. An international church, legally registered with the Chinese government, meets in the city where she plans to settle. Paige plans to attend that church and participate in a small group organized by the church. Having a group of international workers who understand the challenges and joys of living cross-culturally will provide an understanding community for her.
Paige asks for prayer for her in the coming year and for the Chinese people whom she will meet and come to love. “Obviously there’s a strong spiritual battle going on in China for the government leaders to be so hostile toward Christians and missionaries.” She prays that God will open doors for her and the other cross-cultural workers in the field. She also prays for direction and protection as she moves across the world and begins her new life!
Visit cmfi.org for more information about CMF and opportunities for cross-cultural involvement.
*Paige’s name has been changed to protect her as she works in a country where missionaries are not allowed.
Laura McKillip Wood formerly taught missionary children in Ukraine and now works in the academic office of Nebraska Christian C ollege in Papillion, Nebraksa. She and her husband, Andrew, have three children (lauramckillipwood.com).