June 03, 2014

Toilet Day

By Brittany Tedesco

Thanks to the UN, annual World Toilet Day falls on my birthday. Thanks UN!

No seriously, thank you.

Since toilets and I share the same important day, I now know that apparently more people in the world have a cell phone than a toilet. I believe the statistic is that approximately 2.5 billion (out of the world’s 7 billion) people don’t have toilets.

Now, that might be a staggering statistic (or it might not be, actually) to the average American who grew up using an American toilet.

But hear ye, hear ye: not everyone prefers a porcelain throne. Some prefer a hole in the ground. In fact, according to one of my health-conscious friends, a squat-position is actually better on the bod for that type of “activity.”

Paul, our assistant China Director, just returned from an extensive journey throughout China, including Tibet, to visit with indigenous ministries we currently help and to evaluate new ministries.

“Your reports are always so…personal,” said Christian Aid Mission President, Cynthia Finley, in a recent staff meeting after Paul went into great detail about the “facilitation stations” he encountered while traveling.

Eastern toilet

In short, bathrooms in China = holes in the ground. And in case you might wonder if that’s just because of a money issue, it’s not.

After spending days inside of a yurt in Inner Mongolia with eight other people, Paul treated himself to a night in a relatively nice hotel when he arrived in a large city. He was surprised to find that the facilities in the nice hotel amounted to holes in the floor, but learned that it was no extra charge for a room with an “American” toilet. Because, well, not everyone prefers an American toilet.

On a previous trip to China, Paul visited Christian Aid Mission-assisted Handan Bible School. He reported that here, not only are the men’s and women’s facilities a row of holes in the concrete floor, but there are no stalls separating them. No privacy. Rustic, even for Chinese standards.

I think Paul included this detail in his report to give us a clear idea of the kind of simple lives these Bible school students willingly lead for the sake of the gospel.

They have few worldly possessions. Their scant diet consists of rice and vegetables from the small farm they tend. Once a week, for a treat, each student receives a hard-boiled egg.

They know they’ll likely live in poverty once they graduate. David, a teacher at the school with a wife and child, makes only $200 a month.

Of the teachers, one student said, “Although their salaries are meager and their meals are simple, they are drawn by the love of the Lord. Others who do not hold to the Truth slander them, but they endure patiently.”

Christian Aid-supporter and author, Rachel Reed, met students at a Bible school in Beijing who, despite being threatened with prison by local police, travel for hours to attend the school. They cram into tiny rooms and sleep on the floor. “This is the mark of the Chinese Christian: an incredible desire to know God’s Word,” she writes.

The stifling smog in Handan City

In Handan Bible School, the students rise at 5 a.m. seven days a week to kneel together on the floor in prayer before heading to their classes. They may take a break from their studies on the weekends, but not from their training. Every Saturday, the students evangelize the community and every Sunday, they serve at various churches.

And you’d better believe the students at Handan Bible School have made an impact in that city—and in their respective villages to which they return after graduation. It’s 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 in action: “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”

In preparing to suffer for Christ, they’ve embraced sacrifice—even the sacrificing of clean air and water. Living in Handan City, with its stifling smog and polluted water, is no picnic. Even after digging down 15 feet, they find contaminated water. Christian Aid had to provide the students with water filters just to keep them from illness.

And so Paul painted a vivid picture for us of the lives led by these students—the things they do without that the average Chinese person has. An American toilet, however, isn’t one of those things.

Sorry, Toilet Day, but I think you’re bogus. And that’s not just because you’ve chosen my birthday to squat on.

Click here to learn more about and support Christian Aid Mission-assisted Bible schools in China.

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