Postcards from China Blog #2: Xi’an — The Crossroads of China’s History – Asbury University
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Postcards from China Blog #2: Xi’an — The Crossroads of China’s History

August 30, 2018

by Jonathan Frink (visiting student from Gordon College)

Did you know — students from other colleges and universities are invited to apply for Asbury University’s study abroad programs? Learn more.

Xi’an. Culture. Rich history. Amazing food. Innovation. Excitement.  These are some of the words that come to mind as I think of my time so far in Xi’an through Asbury University’s China Study Abroad program. Being in Xi’an has been truly an amazing experience. Our days have been filled with laughter, joy and excitement.  To survey a city firsthand with thousands of years of history behind it has been eye-opening. When the Silk Road was in use, Xi’an was the last stop on it — the so-called “center of ancient China”. We got to venture into the city center to see where merchants thousands of years ago would have stopped to eat and to rest. The city center was packed with hundreds of people, with the smell of fresh street food filling the air along with shouts from vendors in Chinese trying to get tourists to buy their products. We also visited the Big Goose Pagoda, an ancient Buddhist pagoda that was originally built in 652. It was built during the Tang dynasty and was a center of Buddhist thought in ancient China. One of the main functions of the Pagoda was to hold sutras and figurines which were often brought back from India.

As I walked through the grounds of the Pagoda, there were two moments, a spiritual challenge and a spiritual opportunity, that impacted me. The first event that impacted me was when we first arrived to the Pagoda and I walked up the steps to the temple. I observed Buddhist idols in the temple and saw in front of the temple they had a prayer bench. I saw parents with their children showing them how to bow down and pray. In that moment, I felt challenged and burdened to truly invest in the people of China. The thought that kept crossing my mind was that most of the people praying had grown up following Buddhism as part of a cultural tradition and didn’t have anyone in their life who questioned whether they were believing in a true God.

 As I walked through the grounds with that thought in my mind, I looked down there was a boy looking at me. I looked back a minute later and he was still staring at me. I smiled at him and struck up a conversation. With the little Chinese I knew, I asked him how he was doing and what his name was. His face suddenly lit up and he immediately replied. We then talked for a couple minutes and took a picture together. Even though it was just a short conversation, I was overcome with a love for the people of China. I also grew in wanting to better understand and know the Chinese people.  

China is a complex country and every single day has been a new learning experience. But I can confidently say that I believe through the challenges and opportunities we have had so far, the Lord is using us to be “the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15).