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Regent University is Doing Business in China

By Dr. Dail Fields
Regent University -- Why is a Regent business professor spending a month teaching in China? Near as I can figure, it's part of God's plan for using the gifts with which He has blessed me.

If you are like me, you are less accustomed to listening to God than talking to Him. I frequently have several items for His to-do list. In this case, I worked hard at listening after I received an e-mail asking for Regent to send a professor to teach for a period of time at Henan University, deep in the heart of China. And what I heard was 'go.'

Several years ago while planning a short-term mission trip, a more experienced gentleman suggested that we should all be FAT Christians (yes, I thought - that's for me!). But he didn't mean freedom from weight concerns; he meant Faithful, Available, and Teachable. I think I heard God's message at this time saying "be faithful, available and I will teach you."

Henan University Management SchoolI first met people at Henan University about 4 years ago. That was another FAT experience. A friend with a kingdom business in China had a possible opportunity for Regent with a college in Beijing. Before leaving, I contacted some people with China knowledge and experience available within CBN and affiliated groups. I was referred to a professor at Lee University who was a graduate of Henan University in China. Turns out that Henan University also had a sister school relationship with Lee. So, after some further relationship building, I traveled to Kaifeng and inked a sister school relationship between Henan and Regent in 1999.

The purpose of being sister schools was to bring students from China to Regent for an MBA degree. An American Masters in Business Administration is very valuable in China these days, as reform, privatization, and for-profit enterprises are the themes. But few students had materialized in 3.5 years. The purpose in inviting Regent to send a teacher now was to reactivate this program. The Regent Business School also asked me to assess the level English proficiency among the MBA students we would receive from Henan University. So, besides God's tug at my heart, the trip was timely.

The only thing that wasn't timely was SARS. But I trusted that God wanted me to go to China to help further His presence in graduate business education in China -- not to get SARS. Thus far He has provided immensely. I have developed relationships with the president and vice-president of the University, the Dean and other senior officials of the Management Department -- all the right people to help our plans here bear fruit.

What's the story on Henan University?

Henan University is the largest government sponsored university in Henan province. The school currently has approximately 22,000 students, and is poised to open a new campus and grow to 35,000. Needless to say, Regent University has a chance to touch and help scores of people here.

Henan UniversityHenan University located in Kaifeng, a very historic city in China. Henan province is located about 400 kilometers (240 miles) southwest of Beijing. It is a very populous region with nearly 100 Million people.

Think about it -- that's more than one-third of the population of the US.

Henan is an interior province in China, and it's been slow to develop compared to the coast around Shanghai and the southern area adjacent to Hong Kong. People here frequently characterize the area as 'behind' the rest of China. The absence of growth adds a bit of 'old China' charm to Kaifeng. The car, truck, and taxi noise is much less than in bigger, more 'progressive cities.' Traffic here is heavy with bicycles.

Henan UniversityDespite the lack of progress in parts of the province, things at Henan University are on the move. China appears to be channeling serious money into development of higher education. Henan has built several new buildings in the last few years, as the accompanying pictures show. The new administration building is a bit of a showcase. The classroom where I have been teaching is equipped with a computer, projection system, and document camera. It is similar to the recently enhanced rooms at Regent.

Students have classes six days per week. The days are divided into morning session (8 a.m. to Noon) and afternoon (2:30 to 5:30). Chinese traditionally take a nap after lunch until 2:30 p.m. I'm not sure how many actually nap, but the university and the city are almost deserted from lunch until 2:30.

A Surprising Visit

One of the benefits that the Regent sister school relationship with Henan University brings is exchanges of students and teachers. The Graduate School of Business at Regent has an exchange student from Henan University who is graduating with her master's degree in education in 2 weeks. She has specialized in teaching English as a second language -- and is planning to continue on for her Ph. D.

One of the first things that happened after she had been at Regent for a couple months was her announcement that she had become a Christian! Next she influenced her parents on the other side of the planet in China -- and they became Christians! God is on the move! Her parents are retired and live in a village near a city in the western part of Henan province. I exercised one of my perks as a visiting professor from America and went to visit this students' family over a weekend.

Her sisters arranged a tour of the surrounding area and her parents invited me and my traveling companion and translator from the university for a dinner in their village home. What a treat! What a handsome and robust couple. They have raised four children (prior to the one-child policy China works to enforce now). Their two daughters and an aunt are also in the second picture. Her father has very kind eyes - and is an outspoken Christian! What a dinner experience!

One daughter works for a TV station, and the manager of the station was at the dinner meal. TV stations in China are operated by the government, so I anticipated this fellow was well placed in the Communist Party hierarchy. He confirmed this at dinner when we were discussing the village, its recent economic progress, and his role. You can imagine my surprise when the father openly explained how wonderful it was that his daughter had found the Lord and helped he and his spouse do the same. He even talked about how he believed he had experienced a healing through prayer.

The influential government fellow then observed that in the new China, people can choose their own personal religious beliefs. Hmmm. Might be a propaganda moment.

But the strength and conviction of the father in this family demonstrated vividly in front of his children was awesome. He presented me with a Chinese calligraphy he had done from James 4:8 "Come near to God, and He will come near to you."

And He did!

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Dr. Dail Fields is an Associate Professor of Management in the Graduate School of Business. He came to Regent University from George Washington University where he was an Associate Professor in Human Resource Development. Prior to that, he taught at City University of Hong Kong. He has led re-engineering projects for major consulting firms, directed operations at MCI Communications, and owned and operated a small business in computerized graphics and printing. You can contact him at

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