April/May 2012 fellowship!
April/May 2012 fellowship! magazine
fellowship! April/MAy 2012 | 13 C yndi Levesque likes to tell people who ask about her occupation that she makes friends for a living. It turns out, she does — by teaching English in China — and that making friends can have eternal rewards. Levesque, who until recently taught English at Guangxi Univer- sity in the southwestern Chinese city of nanning, continues as a volunteer English teacher through a local registered Chinese church. Through that work, she develops relation- ships with students that become friendships and opportunities to share the gospel in a country where strict limits are placed on witnessing about matters of faith. “In China, everything is about relationships,” she said. “In the university setting, by treating students with fairness and respect, I was exhibiting Christian characteristics. I showed compassion and concern when students needed help. After classes, I hosted parties for students in my home and invited students out to restaurants. During these informal times, they would ask lots of questions. Gradually they became interested in me, my family and my background. The Chinese highly respect their teachers, and if you also become their friend, you find yourself in a close-knit circle or network, which means they trust you and care deeply about you.” That leads to opportunities to discuss one’s personal background — which, for Levesque, naturally involves talking about her faith. She had a 27-year career working in environmental management for a public utility in Texas. During that time, she engaged in missions work and taught English for Speakers of Other Languages while in the United States. “My husband and I had been involved with CBF for some time as [short-term missions workers] and we had visited many [field personnel] in different countries, but never China,” she said. “For some reason, God put China on my heart and in 2005 I visited China on a mission trip for 10 days. When I came back, I felt God was nudging me to pursue further education in ministry.” Levesque earned a master’s degree in Christian ministry while continuing to work full time. After much prayer, she and her husband traveled to China for a month in 2007 to seek an appropriate opportunity. She took early retirement in 2008 to enable the move and got the university job. She was commissioned as one of CBF’s field personnel that same year. Levesque has written a brochure describing her testimony in English and had it translated into Chinese. That’s assisted her in explaining her “story,” as she calls it, to Chinese friends who are interested. She makes those friends everywhere. One is Carly, a young woman in her 20s who worked at a restaurant near where Levesque taught. “She comes from a poor family in a rural area, and has no higher education, but is self-taught in English. We befriended her and always asked for her to take our order since we could not read the Chinese menu,” Levesque said. “We invited her to church worship and church English classes, and she gradually began to attend weekly with us. Since that time, she has accepted Christ.” When Levesque broke her ankle, Carly would come every Sunday to help her carry her bag to the bus stop, then help her throughout her long day of church and English classes. “Carly and I became good friends,” Levesque said. “I know that because when we are walking together, she grabs my hand and holds it closely in hers — this is the Chinese girls’ way of showing affection and care.” By contributing writer Rob Marus Levesque builds relationships, shares gospel in nanning ‘God put China on my heart’ Cyndi levesque teaches english at the registered church in nanning, building close relationships with students. CBF photo