By Ze Jia
I’m a teacher in China, and one day, before school was over, the headmaster told me that he’d arranged for me to give an open class the next day. It was for the county government’s teaching evaluations, and he had chosen the text Houyi Shot Down 9 Suns. This was a fairy tale in which there are ten suns in the sky, so the earth dried out and there were no plants. The people suffered a lot, and it was hard for them to survive. A young man named Houyi appeared and shot nine of the suns down with his arrows so only one sun was left in the sky. The earth was not so arid after that, and the plants could grow and mankind could survive.
At that time, I had just started believing in God. From the accounts in the Bible, I knew that God created the heavens and earth and all things. From the first day to the fifth day, God divided the light from the darkness, made the firmament, and created the sun, moon and stars, and plants and animals on earth as well. After the conditions for human survival were in place, on the sixth day, God created man. God saw that the heavens, earth, and everything within were good. So would He create ten suns to harm mankind and let a man, Houyi, perfect His creation? This text was just a fairy tale, with no basis in fact. What was more, it was denying God’s work.
I thought: “Normally, if this text was given to the class I would explain it subtly and witness God’s work to the students. However, tomorrow’s class is different. It is an open class for our school to be evaluated and I will face some excellent teachers from different towns and a panel of inspectors from the County Education Bureau. Should I bear witness to God in public? China is an atheist nation, and the teaching materials that the CCP compiles deny the existence God. If I do the class according to the teaching syllabus, I’ll have to obey the teaching guidelines and take the line, ‘In order to save mankind, Houyi suffered lots of pains and shot nine suns down at considerable risk to himself,’ with the aim of, ‘Praising that Houyi took the common people into his heart, that he was a savior who saved people from suffering, and that his great love deserves to be commemorated and extolled by mankind.’ Only by teaching it this way, can I teach by the book. But in that case, I would be denying the authority and power of the Creator, and the fact that the Creator made the world perfect. Then I will become a tool for singing Satan’s merits. It’s going to be difficult for me to give the class tomorrow, and I really don’t know how to do it.”
At this thought, my conscience instinctively urged me to pick up the phone to call the headmaster to get out of this embarrassing task. But then I had another thought: “It was already after dinner-time, so it was very late to call. And whom else would the headmaster find to replace me to take the class? If no one does the class when those officials and teachers arrive tomorrow, wouldn’t this simply create difficulties for the headmaster? How would the headmaster answer to the higher-ups? And I need to continue working under the headmaster. No, I had to give the lesson, but how was I to do it? Just then, I thought of something that my brothers and sisters always fellowshiped, ‘When we’re confronted with things, we should call out to God, and then He will lead us out of difficulties.’” I also thought of a passage of God’s words, “After God created mankind and gave them spirits, He enjoined them that if they didn’t call out to God, then they would not be able to connect with His Spirit and thus the ‘satellite television’ from heaven would not be received on earth. When God is no longer in people’s spirits there is an empty seat left open for other things, and that’s how Satan seizes the opportunity to get in. When people contact God with their hearts, Satan immediately goes into a panic and rushes to escape. Through mankind’s cries God gives them what they need, but He does not ‘reside’ within them at first. He just constantly gives them aid because of their cries and people gain hardiness from that internal strength so that Satan dare not come here to ‘play’ at its will. This way, if people constantly connect with God’s Spirit, Satan dare not come to disrupt. Without Satan’s disruption, all of people’s lives are normal and God has the opportunity to work within them without any obstructions. This way, what God wants to do can be achieved through humans” (“Interpretation of the Seventeenth Utterance”). From God’s words I knew that after God created mankind, He enjoined us to call out to Him. Whatever difficulties we meet, so long as we come before God and truly pray to Him, He will lead us through any adversity. At this time, I found trust and came before God to pray, “Dear God, You know I’ve got a problem. I don’t want to become Satan’s tool, but I don’t know how to do the class. May You lead me and give me intelligence and wisdom so that I can witness Your deeds through my teaching.”
After praying, I began to prepare the lesson. For the sake of better achieving the teaching task and expanding my students’ scope of knowledge, I consulted lots of teaching materials. When I saw that some books contained information about the sun, an idea occurred to me. I decided to take “teaching new words” instead of “giving a succinct talk on the text” as the basis of my class, and also add some stuff about the sun. This way, not only would I not deny God’s work, but I could bear witness to God’s deeds to my students implicitly.
The next day, after the inspectors from the County Education Bureau, our headmaster, and some of the best teachers from local towns took seats either side of the classroom, I walked onto the platform with a smile. I wasn’t nervous because I kept calling out to God in my heart. The bell rang, and then I started to teach some new vocabulary according to my teaching plan. When I finished it, I asked the students, “Do you want to know some information about the sun?” The students were all curious, and answered in chorus, “Yes! We do.” So I said: “The sun is the nearest star from the earth, but it is about 150 million kilometers distant from here. Someone once calculated that it would take a plane flying at 700 kilometers or so an hour, more than 20 years to fly to the sun. It’s far from the earth, isn’t it?” The students said, “Wow! Yes, it is!” I continued, “The sun is like a huge ball of fire, and its radius is about 696,000 kilometers. It is 1,300,000 times the size of the earth. It’s large, isn’t it?” “Wow! Yes, it’s so large!” “The sun is a huge sphere with lots of heat and light; its surface temperature is approximately 6,000°C, and it’s 15 million degrees centigrade at its core. It is very far from us, so we can’t really get a feel for its actual volume and temperature. The most important thing is that the survival of mankind is inseparably tied to the sun. Because of the sun, plants can grow, blossom and bear fruit through photosynthesis, and animals can exist through eating plants and producing offspring. The animals and the plants that we eat, and the cotton, linen, wool, and silk that we wear, would not exist without sunlight. The sun brings mankind brightness and warmth every day, so that we can live and work continuously. I’d like to tell you a secret.” (All the students listened to me carefully in wide-eyed wonder.) “The sun also has another marvelous function. If we often sun ourselves, our bones will get much stronger, and the sunlight will kill the bacteria on our bodies which cannot be destroyed by medicines. If it were not for the sun, there wouldn’t be plants or animals, much less humans. In a word, without the sun, our beautiful and lovely world would disappear….” The students listened with great interest about the marvelous sun created by God. And from time to time, they had looks of astonishment on their faces, and made “wow” sounds.
The bell rang, and the headmaster sitting at the front row rose. Then he walked to the platform and said to me coldly, “Why didn’t you do the class according to the guidelines?” Then, he left the classroom first, with a taut expression on his face. Seeing his expression, I thought: “My intention of teaching in this way was to praise God for creating the sun, and also to deny the myth of Houyi shooting down suns. I didn’t sin through my words or deny God’s creation, so even if I get criticized I am willing to accept it.”
When I was on the way to the teaching and research room, my colleague and friend Ms. Wang caught up with me, and said quietly, “You usually teach your classes well. This open class represented our school in the teaching inspections. Why didn’t you play it by the book? The headmaster is angry with you because of the way you taught.”
Not knowing what to say, I said in a deep voice, “I know.”
She said with an air of regret: “It’s not easy to get such an opportunity, so why didn’t you treasure it? No one teaches new stuff in an open class. How will you explain it to the school?”
In my heart, I knew I did this in order not to deny God, but I couldn’t tell her the reason directly. I said calmly, “I don’t mind others’ remarks. I just want to be a good man.”
She shook her head in bemusement, and said with resignation, “I really don’t understand what you’re thinking.”
When I arrived at the teaching and research room, I found the teachers were whispering and expressing different views on my lecture. I had already prepared myself to be criticized. However, I never expected that the head of the County Education Bureau would say, “In open classes, most teachers choose to talk succintly about the texts. But Ms. Zhang put emphasis on teaching new things today, supplementing it with a lot of information about the sun, which made a boring class vivid and colorful. This is good teaching that is an example for the whole county!” Hearing this, the teachers who had been whispering looked amazed, and then broke into loud applause …
I never imagined when I was ready to face the music that the open class which had made me nervous would result in good comments from all the teachers who participated in evaluating it. I finally calmed down, and I kept thanking God in my heart. During this experience, I encountered difficulties. However, when I came before God, prayed to Him and opened my heart to Him, God listened to my prayers, and showed me a way to teach. God was my rock, and helped me walk out of the dilemma.
Through this experience, I was able to confirm that God not only created this perfect material world but can listen to the mankind’s inner voice, and give guidance and help to us at any time. I never expected that I would receive such praise because of the open class. I knew it was not achieved by my ability but by God’s guidance. After experiencing this, I indeed felt that as long as we truly rely on God and look up to God, we can see God’s deeds. All the glory be to God!