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HALF WAY AROUND THE WORLD By Robert Smith God is so gracious to allow sinners like us to be a part of His work. Recently, a Chinese couple began coming to our church. Their proper names written in English are Mr. Xiangguang Fan and Ms. Zhihong Wang. They told us that we can call them Francis and Hong for short. Boy, was I ever glad of that! Ms. Hong speaks little English, and so Francis will usually interpret for her. I have been going to their restaurant nearly every Thursday to teach them about the Bible. One day after the lesson, I asked them, “How did you come to our church?” We had never met them until the first Sunday morning they came. They do not live near the church or even in our parish of St. Philip. Francis began to tell me the story. He grew up as a Buddhist in China and came to Barbados in December 2003, just a few weeks before we came to Barbados. He lived for four years in St. Philip, a mile or so (as the bird flies) from where the church is located now. Although I had visited those neighborhoods, we had never met. Francis moved to the Christ Church Parish and eventually left his job as a cook in a restaurant to open a small restaurant of his own. His only interaction with a church was with the Jehovah’s Witnesses here in Barbados. For some years they taught him and he attended their church. He was about to be baptized by them when something seemed to stop him. “The teaching just didn’t seem right,” he said to me. He could not put his finger on it, but something held him back. The Jehovah’s Witnesses kept after him, but he finally quit their assembly for good. He was confused, and he did not know where to go. Meanwhile, Hong came to join him in Barbados last fall. Although she had also grown up in a Buddhist home, a friend in China had encouraged her to read the Bible. She read the Bible all the way through. She even visited a church in China with her friend. After joining Francis in Barbados, she told him that she wanted to go to church, and they began looking for a church to attend. They went down the street to a church nearby, but upon arriving there, the people ignored them as if they were not there. They looked at each other and said, “This cannot be the place.” And so they left. They tried church after church. At one Charismatic church service, they looked at each other and said, “This is a party, this cannot be the place.” Francis began looking through the phone book for a church to attend. There are dozens upon dozens of churches here. He was confused; he did not know what to do. As he looked through the phone book, he noticed under Baptist churches one 6 Islander – November 2016