Mark Beach

Board Member

Kai and I live in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas and have been married 6 years. Our family is a blended one consisting of my son Russell, Kai's daughter, Chanta, and her son, Michael. I am a construction executive, responsible for operations of a $175 million general contracting firm.

When I was at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) in 1993, I was in a summer session eschatology course with a new acquaintance named Russ Wood from Pennsylvania. Russ was telling me about a Chinese student in another one of his classes who had come to DTS without his family due to lack of funding. He spoke about this student's passion for Christ and His ministry but who was terribly saddened because he missed his wife and daughter. Russ was concerned that the student might be on the verge of giving up and returning to China. I wasn't sure why at the time but I was heavily burdened by this dilemma. Russ did a bit of research and learned that the only reason this student's family was still in China was lack of financial sponsorship. In order to come to the US and not take jobs from US citizens, they needed to be provided for. (Remember the recession of the late 80's?) It was determined that they would need a commitment of $12,000 per year.

At the time, I was leading a small church in my home ministering to 3 couples, all neighbors. After some thought and prayer, I took the story of this student that I had not yet met to them one Sunday morning. I told them about the student's emotional state and about the financial need. I asked each family to go home, pray about the situation and discuss individually if they wanted to do something about it and if so to write down on a piece of paper what amount per year they felt they could afford. I suggested we should make at least a two year commitment. We agreed that if when added up, the total wasn't enough to meet the minimum that we wouldn't do anything.

The next Sunday I passed around a small bowl and asked each family to put their piece of paper in the bowl to which I added ours. When we tallied it up we had commitments of just over $1000 more than we needed. There was a real sense of blessing among us all.

The student was a part of the International Leadership Scholarship Program (ILSP). I suggested I would go to the seminary's Foundation Office and inquire about supporting this ILSP student's family. If for some reason we couldn't get it approved we wouldn't go any further. I met with Jerry Reeves and told him what we wanted to do. Jerry was very helpful. He made a few inquiries and indicated he thought it could be worked out. At this time I had still not met the Chinese student.

Now armed with resources and a reasonable sense the student's family could be brought to the US, I went in search of Paul Liu, the student I'd never met. I found Paul in the dining hall of his dorm, introduced myself and told him I had some good news. Over the next few minutes I relayed the story you just read and told him we wanted to buy his family's airfare to the US and support them for two years. Paul could scarcely believe it. His eyes were full of tears and his face framed with a grateful smile. For me it was one of those times when I was absolutely sure I was right in the middle of God's will for another human being.

I have continued to be Paul's friend all these years and have seen God multiply the gift our small group cobbled together into a trophy for Christ. Romans 8:29 says, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren." In this passage the most important part is "so that." Our gift and Paul's faithful stewardship and hard work through all these years has magnified Christ's firstborn status by bringing many, many more
brothers into His family and Kingdom.


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