Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sharing the Christmas Story in Taiwanese Elementary Schools

Yesterday I had three opportunities to share the Christmas Story in 1st and 2nd grade classes at two different elementary schools. Adding to this once-a-year opportunity was the pleasure of having an intern who is working with us for one month joining the class. My experience is that students always love having a different "guest teacher" foreigner around and yesterday was no different. Two classes were able to do Q&A with her.

As far as the Christmas Story and sharing the Christian faith goes, when I go to the classroom I go with the intention of teaching English, not to "win converts". That's how Christ is most glorified as a Christian English teacher teaches English. However, Thanksgiving and Christmas offer unique opportunities to share what is not just part of the Christian faith, but also a central part of Western culture.

We were able to do just that in the second school. I've been told repeatedly not to duplicate what the regular English teachers teach, but offer insights into foreign life and culture. When errors surfaced in the Chinese text of the 10 minute powerpoint, the teacher even corrected them so the students would get the proper picture.

We didn't dwell on the story of the birth of Jesus Christ in either location. After simply stating at the end that Jesus grew up and died on a cross for all the people of the world, and that He came back again to life and lives and loves us and wants us to give new life, we moved quickly back to games and other Christmas/Santa stuff we talked about last week. Then we gave away candy canes to complement the pumpkin pie that was served last week. 

Unfortunately, in the first school, even this was too much. The teacher utterly changed the meaning of what was said. She said: "the foreigners believe Jesus rose from the dead. But do people rise from the dead? No..." And she didn't totally ignored the last slide. It was the same thing at Thanksgiving when the 10 minute Thanksgiving Story got corrupted as well. 

Do I want to keep going back? A part of me out of spite for the teacher says no. But another part realizes that continuing to humbly serving these first and second graders out of love for Christ may allow the Holy Spirit to work in this teacher's life. The personal feeling of insult gives way to the realization that this is all about God and not about me.

Next year though, before Easter rolls around, I'm going to insist on doing my own translation,  or at least make sure the principal gets the heads-up first.


Naruwan said...

As you are probably aware, Chinese people get really freaked out about ghosts, spirits, and so on, so the teacher was likely just trying to reassure the students about the guy-who-gets-killed-and-comes-back-to-life -again story.

華榮光 said...

Thanks for your perspective, Naruwan. And now that I see your blog, I'll be sure to add it to my RSS feeder.

MJ Klein said...

actually the teacher's version of the story isn't as badly corrupted as telling someone that Christ was born on Christmas, instead of the fall as clearly indicated in Scripture. also Christmas is nothing more than the Roman feast of the Saturnalia (with overtones of Nimrod). i avoid all those holidays, and the ones here too because of those undesirable connections.