Marian and I came home from dinner on an otherwise normal night; that is, until we saw that the back window of a car directly in front of our complex had been smashed in. As we walked past it, we realized all the windows had been smashed; the rear view mirrors were hanging off the side of the car, the windshield was totaled, there were dents in the doors. And it wasn’t just one car; at least three different vehicles had been demolished. It didn’t make sense to me. I’ve never seen that kind of violence here before. Then I started hearing the news, and we realized that all the cars that had been damaged were made by another Asian country. Over the last couple weeks, there have been riots across the country; in another part of X, rioters set fire to an entire Asian car factory. Because of all this, the university is on lockdown; you have to prove you are a student or a teacher before they will let you in, or out. The Asian students (including the two 50+ women who were with me during my test), were all told not to leave the campus, at all. Add to that some additional rioting because of some movie that “we” put out that deeply offended the Muslim community, and you can imagine the feeling of unrest in the air.

2. My reading and writing teacher asked a question that made my heart sink. “In Asia, which do we prefer, daughters or sons?” I knew exactly what my teacher was about to imply. The class unanimously voted for sons. A lot of people even chuckled to themselves. Of course boys are preferable to girls! My teacher went on to say, in Asia, that if a woman is pregnant, she will go to the doctor and have an x-ray to find out the sex of the child. If it’s a girl, she will just “have an operation” and try again for a son. She said it like it was the most normal, acceptable thing in the world. She laughed as she talked about men outnumbering women now and most of my classmates nodded along. Only my teammate, Dove, turned around and shot me a look. We may have been the only two disturbed people in the room. The moment came and went before I could do anything, and I was too shocked to function or understand anything that was said for the next thirty minutes.

3. Today we had our “Welcome to X University” gathering. We were given some info on the school, on the history of X and then, to conclude our time together, the PSB (public security bureau) gave a talk on the laws we must abide by. Most of it was fairly standard, but I had to try and look particularly disinterested when they started talking about religion. “In Asia, you are free to have a personal belief,” the interpreter paused for a breath, “but you are not free to tell others about it. Some people,” he continued, “try to have group meetings, or give out flyers and information. This is not allowed.” As he translated more about the policy and the consequences for breaking it, I pulled out my ipod touch and shuffled through some flashcards to protect myself from making any weird facial expressions. But my mind was elsewhere. I could hear my will talking back. My spirit felt firm. But to be honest, I also felt the need to walk in more wisdom than ever before.

All that said… 

Marian, Dove, McDoogle and I are all safe and well. But the opposition here is real. This week more than ever I see why God has brought us to this place. There are real strongholds here that can only only be brought down by Him through our prayer, intercess!on, and action. Please stand with me in asking God for safety and peace from all the conflict; for the grace to know what to say and when to speak; and for wisdom and boldness as I seek to follow Him. There is much to be done!