Bethlehem Blogs

October 25, 2017

Former Buddhist Professor Now a Student at Bethlehem College & Seminary

Vince Johnson

Pastor for Outreach, North

(With Ryan Kirchoff)

Were trying to obey Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all nations at Bethlehem and in our neighborhoods. I love to hear the stories told as God does this in our midst! David is one such story of a man that God is making into a disciple-making disciple.

David & Lily have been married for 18 years. They have three children: Sandy, Grace, and Daniel. Since coming to the North Campus, they have helped to lead various evangelism and discipleship opportunities for the Chinese people that the Lord has blessed us with. David is currently starting his second year in seminary at Bethlehem College & Seminary. Rejoice in the Lord as you read how he saved David.

David remembers his life in Buddhism as a time in which he experienced no lasting peace. Driven by an ambition to become famous and powerful, he vividly recalls feeling anxious about his life and achievements. Having earned his PhD, David was busy researching and teaching at a university in China. He admits that his heart was full of pride and that this led him to hurt others, despite the fact that he tried to be nice. While Buddhism offered a temporary escape from reality, David knew he could not conquer his anxieties or control his heart. David needed help, but it came from an unlikely place.

Five years ago, David came to the U of M to complete a study program. Upon arriving, he enrolled in an ESL class at the Hospitality Center for Chinese. Immediately he was struck by the loving, warm-hearted teachers who volunteered their time. Connecting with a teacher who attends Bethlehem’s North Campus, it wasn’t long before David also began attending the ESL classes there, where he was able to talk one-on-one with believers. During these conversations, David found himself more and more interested in the Bible and Christianity. Through the ESL class, David also was connected with All Nations Fellowship where he was able to make Christian friends.

The Lord continued to draw David by connecting him with a couple who hosted a weekly Bible study in their home. There, David was able to ask a lot of questions, and he discovered for the first time that, in his own words, “the heart of Christianity is to rely totally on grace … salvation is from above, not from us.” David also began to understand his need for someone to take over the care of his soul and that he could not do it himself. One night in October 2012, as David studied the story of the Passover, he was struck deeply with the reality that Passover was a picture of the sacrifice of Jesus for sinners. In a powerful vision from the Lord, he totally surrendered himself to Christ. After 42 years of being taught that there was no creator or savior, God radically changed his heart, and David came to Christ.

After coming to know Christ, David immediately found relief from the anxiety he had experienced while chasing his own ambitions. God filled David with real peace and put in his heart a desire to share the gospel with others. This desire eventually grew into the conviction that he needed to be equipped with a seminary education so that he could help the Church in China. This led David to Bethlehem College & Seminary where he recently began his second year of studies.

David’s ambition now is to strengthen the Chinese church by teaching, writing, and training leaders. To that end, he has been busy helping to lead various Chinese Bible studies and sermon discussions at the North Campus, and he has been thrilled to see how God has used him to bring others to Christ. He is also busy writing devotionals and translating Bethlehem’s weekly sermon which he posts on Chinese social media.

David’s life is a testimony to God’s pleasure to bring people to himself through ordinary Christians seeking to serve and reach out to others. David is thankful that God used the ESL volunteers at Bethlehem to point him to Christ, and his hope is that Bethlehem will continue to see the value in investing in Chinese students. As influential members of Chinese society, David believes they will have a substantial gospel impact as they return home.

May God continue to bring himself glory by blessing the efforts of those in the ESL ministry (join us for the New Tutor Orientation on October 30). And may many students, like David, have their lives transformed by Christ. Only God can take a proud professor and turn him into a humble proclaimer of his word!

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