6 Things I Learned as a Christian Living Abroad

I have been living in China from January 2018 to Present.  I moved to China to teach English with Disney English.  It has been a journey of ups and downs and I have learned so much about life and my faith.  I have created a list of 6 things I learned as a Christian living abroad below!

1. Community is a Gift

Living in a country where Christianity doesn't exist made me realize just how important community is to faith.  Being able to attend church, worship in a room filled with the Holy Spirit, and listen to a teaching is a privilege I took advantage of before I moved to China.  There would be days that waking up early for church on a Sunday felt like a burden.  It was something I had to do, rather than something I wanted to do.  But now, I'd give anything to be able to attend a church service or even do a small bible study with other Christians.  I have learned to appreciate the freedom I have in the US to practice my religion openly and understand that others in the world are not give the same freedom.

I cannot wait till I am back in the states!!!  I will wake up every Sunday morning excited and blessed to live in a place that allows me to give God glory surrounded by others like me.  And the fact that it will be in English is just a bonus!

2.   Online Service Streaming

This is not a new thing, I know that, but it has saved my while living overseas.  Being able to tune in to church services whether they stream live or post them afterward, has kept me engaged in a community without having to be there in person.  I've even been able to watch the same service that a friend has attended and have a conversation about the teaching afterward.  How cool, right?  Despite a 12 hour difference we were still able to "go" to church "together"!

Living and China and relying on online streaming for my church services has also broadened my attendance possibilities.  I have been able to watch several different services since being here which has been completely eye opening.  As someone who, even back home, has been on the search for a home church, this experience has helped me figure out what kind of church I am looking for!

3.  Reading the Word Out Loud

Without community in China, I have had to rely on other ways to feel connected to God.  One of the ways I have done that is by reading the Word every day for at least 10 minutes out loud.  During my first week in China, I was sitting in my hotel room in absolute tears.  I was asking myself "What have I done?"  I left my home, family, and friends to move to a place where almost no one speaks English, I knew no one, and people stared at me because I looked different.  I sat on the bed and opened my bible.  Through my tears, I flipped to the book of Philippians and began to read. I got to about verse 4 when I just started reading out loud.  I read the entire book out loud and have been doing so ever since.  It may seem silly, but this has helped my faith grow in ways I never expected.

Each time I open the bible and start reading, It's like I open up a dialogue with God.  I can ask Him questions about the different verses and he sometimes fills me with the answers.  It also helps me to feel like I am not alone in this country.  Reading out loud to God makes me feel like he is sitting right next to me with His hand on my shoulder.  If you haven't tried this yet, DO IT.  You will feel the difference, I promise!

4.  Pray Without Ceasing

To me, this means living each day as a prayer to God.  When I wake up, I follow my 5 Ways to Have a Faith Filled Morning (To check out this post click here).  This means I spend time reading the Word, listening to a podcast or 2 and writing in my prayer journal.  I use my Pray Without Ceasing prayer journal each morning over breakfast.  (You can receive your free download of Pray Without Ceasing, A Daily Prayer and Petition Journal by subscribing today!).  This helps me set my day up for success through faith.

I've also learned that prayer doesn't have to be a structured, "okay let's sit down and hold hands and pray" type of thing.  I pray at work, on the metro, walking down the street, or even while making dinner.  You can pray silently or out loud, God will hear you how ever you decide to do it.   Pray consistently every day and you will feel God begin to move in your life like never before.

5.  Be True To Your Values

In China, my pool of friends is sorta limited to the people who work at the same company as me.  They are the only ones who have the same schedule and because we see each other all the time, we tend to flock together.  Now, this is a GREAT thing.  It connected me with people who are just like me in some ways.  They left their homes behind and move to a foreign country too.  They shared the same energy and desire for adventure and experience as me.

That being said, this has been a double-edged sword.  My idea of a fun night is playing board games, watching a movie, or going to the theater.  Many of my coworkers choose to go out drinking and clubbing till 5 in the morning most nights.  When I first got to China, I didn't want to be alone.  I was missing my friends and family so much.  I wanted to be around people, no matter what we were doing.

But I quickly realized that I would rather be at home alone than out with people and compromising my morals.  This was a tough decision to come to.  It meant that I was choosing loneliness.  But it also meant I was staying true to myself and my values.  The latter was, and is, more important to me than being lonely.  I have been able to keep myself busy writing and creating Pray With Tay and growing my relationship with Christ.  If I am being honest, I am not sure Pray With Tay would exist without my move to China and being put in the position of a small pool of friends who's values are different than mine.

6.  Stay Connected to Uplifting Friends

I feel very, very lucky to have an amazing best friend.  Her name is Kalyn and I truly would not have made it through this process without her.  Kalyn and I met through theater.  We were both cast in the show Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in my hometown and from the moment I met her, I knew I needed her as my friend.  There was just something different about her.  They way she interacted with people young and old, the way she carried herself, and most importantly, they way she made you feel like being around her would make you a better person made me realize that she was someone I wanted to be like.  We became fast friends when she got home from her mission trip to Ireland for 6 months after that show.  When I got to know her, I understood why there was something different about her.  It was God.  The Holy Spirit was glowing so strongly from her life that it draws people in, including me.  She has helped me become a better person, Christian, and friend.

And wouldn't you know it?  Kalyn and I talk almost every day.  She has made such an effort from the states to stay connected and close with me.  Communication when your 12 hours apart isn't easy, but we have found a way to make it work.  Being friends with Kalyn has made me realize the importance of quality vs. quantity in friendships.  I would rather have 1 Kalyn than 100 "people I know".  Investing in people who build you up, want the best for you, and who truly care about your life are one in a hundred million.  Find yourself a Kalyn, ladies.  Or better yet, become a Kalyn to someone else.

Have you lived abroad as a Christian?  What were some of the things that you learned?  Feel free to share them with me below!  I'd love to hear your stories!

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