'Refreshment in Refuge' with Gina Burgess
Originally posted on 06/09/2019
Second in a two part series with one week in between...
The pastor asked her if she had any studies at her apartment. She said she sure did. Then he asked to come. She was thinking that he would come and teach, but he told her that he wanted to learn. He brought about 10 people from his church.
Nana had a study night and a movie night. When they studied Genesis, she showed "The Prince of Egypt" when they got to Moses, explaining to them that it was a cartoon, but there were many things in it that were Biblical. When they got to Esther, she showed "One Night With The King", and at Easter time, she showed "The Passion of the Christ". One young man read the Left Behind books and when he brought them back to her the next day, he told her he wanted to be a Christian because he could not face being left behind.
She doesn’t have a college degree, but God provides ways for her to speak at universities. One of her friends who teaches at the university had to be off for three weeks because of her husband’s surgery. She asked Nana to fill in for her.
"There I was teaching this book to PhD students at University," she laughed. "After my friend got back the boss took us to dinner. She ordered a huge amount of food and part of it was chicken feet. They consider it a delicacy over there. Well, I’ve tried it and it’s not bad, but I’d rather eat the things that I liked. You know, Chinese food over there is a lot different than it is over here," she said. "Then the boss asked me why I wasn’t eating the chicken feet. I told her why and she got this puzzled look on her face and asked, ‘Well, do you eat chicken feet in America?
"I said, ‘Well, no.’
"’Well what do you do with them?’ Before I could say anything, my friend said, ‘We ship them to China.’ Well that satisfied her. At least we weren’t wasting our chicken feet."
Another thing Nana and her friends do in China is prayer biking.
They’ll ride through the streets and pray about the different things, not talking between red lights, but at the lights, on occasion they’ll chat about things. In China, they carry everything on their bicycles.
Nana said she’s seen refrigerators being hauled on the back of a bicycle. Even on her three-wheeler, she’s bumped into things because she was gawking at the things people were carrying on the back of their bikes. During a prayer bike ride one day, she and her friend saw a bicycle with three huge boxes tied down on the back. As they got closer, she saw in big red letters the word Tyson. She didn’t think much of that since it was just part of the parade of things being hauled. As they got closer, she read underneath Tyson, "Chicken Feet".
"Look at that! You were right, we do ship our chicken feet to China!"
she exclaimed to her friend, "right out of Gulfport, Mississippi."
Another time she was asked to come to this university for the elderly.
They had all these different things for the seniors like dance and music and art.
"I asked my friend and her husband to go with me. They said they’d go.
The more people you have with you the more prestige you have," Nana pointed out.
They invited them back for a Christmas program, and Nana was excited about that because then she could share the story of Jesus and how Americans celebrated Christmas. One of her friends found three cartons of Bibles written in Chinese. Nana was filled with caution. The situation could turn terribly dangerous if they started handing out Bibles. She asked her Chinese tutor what she thought about giving those Bibles to the seniors.
"Oh, no," the tutor said. "If you give it to them, then you’ll be in trouble. But, if you wrap them up as a gift, then you’ll be fine.
That’s how I got my first Bible. It was a gift."
"So for three weekends, we wrapped Bibles. Then we had to get them to the university. We couldn’t put four of us and the three cartons of Bibles in a taxi because those are so tiny, and they have no trunks. So we hired this guy to put them on the back of his bicycle and my friend’s husband climbed on top of the boxes. But, every time they came to a red light, the guy would make him get down off the boxes and walk across the intersection. Those type of bikes were for hauling stuff, not people. The guy would probably get a ticket. So he had to climb down and walk, then climb back up and ride, then get down and walk. But we finally got there.
"We couldn’t give them the Bibles at the beginning because my tutor told us that these were seniors and they didn’t trust each other, nor any one else. They may want a Bible, but they couldn’t let anyone know they wanted one or had one.
"At the end of the program we had just enough for everyone to have one.
Then one man just ripped into his and yelled out at the top of his voice, ‘It’s a Bible! Get two.’
"We were able to start a study because everyone wanted to learn English and several were saved. God has protected me. The persecution is horrendous there. Several have been put in prison and beaten. One lady was beaten so badly she died, all because she gave someone a Bible.
This happens because they are too bold. If you are going to be in-your-face with it, you can expect horrendous treatment. It is a Communist country. They have rules. You must work within the system and trust God will open the doors. He really does.
"A summer team and I went to this little town square, squares are popular because that’s where everyone goes to get cool. They may have air (conditioning), but they don’t use it. Same way with heat. I can’t tell you the times I’ve been eating and shivering because ‘it not cold enough yet for heat.’
"This team and I were in the square singing and singing, and this one elderly lady was listening with tears streaming down her face. They have the same songs and tunes we sing. Then a police car drove up and someone said maybe we better sing something secular. They drove around behind us and sat for a while, then moved on."
Roseland Park Baptist Church sent thousands of stockings to her at Christmas time so she could give them to her students. She handed them out with a candy cane and the candy cane story inside.
"They go to school from about 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and there are about 60 students in one class," she said. One young man told her years later that he first heard of Jesus from her through that Christmas stocking.
"I was walking by this facial place and heard some really sweet music.
I went in and this young man’s cousin was there. She asked if I was Nana, and I said I was. So this young man has started seven on campus ministries. All from one stocking."
Nana has pretty good living conditions, even if she is on the third floor with no elevator. She has three bedrooms and a western toilet.
It’s out on the glassed-in verandah, but the shower and bathroom sink have hot running water. Her kitchen sink doesn’t. She has no cabinet space and has to chop vegetables on her little dining table. She has one closet. But, there is room for her English students and her movie nights.
She has to be completely independent and raise her own funds for her six-month trips, because she can’t go three years at the time. Roseland Park Baptist Church has been generous in helping her.
"I just have a problem asking for money," she said. "I have to raise my own money to go. I was having health problems and so I had to raise my support. Since then the church has been really good to send me and support me.