By Josh Driver – HCC Program Coordinator
Volunteering at HCC in 2010 by making airport runs made a lot of sense to me. I was once a study abroad student in Beijing, China, who went through a similar experience of waiting at the airport for someone to take me to a university. Living only five minutes from the airport was very practical, so I signed up to help.
One particular run was unlike any other.
I went to the airport in the evening, parked my car, and went inside. It was unusually slow, and I thought it’d be easy to spot him. But no one came out of the international gates for an hour. I became concerned and walked all three levels of the airport looking for a Chinese male student, resorting to approaching just about every Asian male.
By nearly midnight a couple hours later, the airport was barren. And my student, missing.
It turned out that I had the wrong information, and he was coming in the morning the next day. I was a little frustrated but returned for trip two. This time the airport was packed. However, there was no trace of this mysterious student, and more hours drifted by.
I did find Ying.
I approached him as a possible candidate for my student, and although he wasn’t my guy, we got into a good conversation about his own travels as a new student from China headed to the University of Minnesota. What really perked my ears, without solicitation, were his words, “I am interested in joining a church and learning about Jesus.” I quickly exchanged numbers with him, and in couple of weeks, he was attending Men on Fire, a men’s weekly ministry night of potluck, praise, teaching, and confession.
He went with me for several weeks, and I remember marveling at him in the corner of the room, raising his hands high to the Lord in worship.
To this day, no one at HCC knows what became of the student I was supposed to pick up. We never heard any news about if he was picked up or not. But clearly, God sent me to the airport for Ying. My frustration had turned into awe. Paying six dollars to park twice, spending four hours at the airport, and walking to and fro was all worth it for an end I never conceived.
I’ve lost contact with Ying, but this story still impacts me. Airport pickups obviously don’t always go this way. But even without a miraculous story, I find that picking up Chinese students who come 7,000 miles always impacts them to the heart. They often say that I was their first American encounter and their first American friend.
This is always a window of opportunity for an amen.