Freshman Amy Zhang, a student in the Center for Advanced Ministry Training, could attest to God working in mysterious ways. Zhang was a student at the University of South China, an institution that partnered with Harding University, and Steve Shaner, assistant professor of advertising, was one of the leaders of that partnership.
“I met Amy in 2010 when my mission team went to Hengyang,” Shaner said. “The students that went with me were guest speakers to their English classes, and Amy was an English major. What she really wanted to do when she met us was just hang out with us.”
Spending time with native English speakers gave Amy a chance to practice English more regularly. Shaner and his team took those opportunities with Chinese students to talk to them about God and their spirituality.
“I would ask them questions about Christianity because China gave us an atheistic, evolutionary and Marxist education ever since first grade,” Zhang said. “Genesis sounded like myths, and the Gospels did not sound like historical facts.”
Zhang was very reluctant to believe what the Harding team was telling her about God.
“Amy could really defend atheism,” Shaner said. “But every time she asked about it, we would challenge her thinking.”
After many conversations and thinking, Amy began to see the truth of God in the words of Scripture and the love of God in the lives of Shaner and the team.
“I studied the Bible with them and came to know God, but it was not easy to believe,” Zhang said. “But their actions spoke louder than their words.”
Because Shaner’s team was only in China for four weeks out of the year, Shaner was tasked with introducing Zhang to English professors who were also Christians. He introduced her to Edwin Myer, who began to study the Bible with Zhang. Amy was baptized in the spring of 2012 in China
“My whole world changed,” Zhang said. “I wanted to do God’s work. Anything else is meaningless to me.”
Zhang’s conversion took her life on a different path, as she wanted to work in a Christian setting. Zhang tried to work in orphanages and teach the children about God but realized her understanding of scripture was not sufficient yet.
“That’s what made me realize that I really needed to major in Bible and learn as much as I could with all my time and energy before I go out there and start to do his work,” Zhang said.
Shaner invited Zhang to come to America in fall 2013 to study Bible in the CAMT program. Zhang could not give definite plans for her life after graduation, but she knew her time at Harding was preparing her for the endless possibilities beyond.
“She gets asked that question a lot,” Shaner said. “I always tell her, ‘Here’s your answer: I don’t know, but God does. I’m just getting ready.'”