It is a cozy, warm house, decorated with many Asian style adornments. In the afternoon, the sun shines from the window and brightens this balmy place.
This is a Friday afternoon, the tempting smell of food drifts out of the windows. She is busy in the living room, preparing snacks, drinks and refreshments for those who are coming soon. Of course, she is ready for her class – every Friday evening’s Asian-focused Bible class in Eugene.
Her name is Lauren Davis. She looks like a granny, with short, neat, gray hair and nice blue eyes. There is always a smile on her face; her tone is soft and smooth. People described that she is easy to be closed and she also has the power to comfort people’s tension and make others feel calm, peace, relaxing.
Davis is retired from the church work. She has been teaching Bible for more than 20 years and started to offer the class at home 11 years ago because students said that it was more comfortable to have the class in her houses.
Davis thinks it is very lonely and even frustrating for Asian people to live or study abroad. Facing a different culture, environment and living habits, they need power and support to pass the period of these low points in their lives. Davis opens her door, welcomes people to come. She offers a place for Asian people to find their beliefs and courage.
“When I was four, I was digging a hole in the yard,” she recalled. “My dad said ‘if you keep digging, you will dig to China.’”
“Then I feel I have a strong connection to Asians, because God gives special love to Asians,” Davis said.
On a Friday evening, students arrived and gathered together, ate some food and talked about what happened in the prior week. They cheered up with each other, encouraged their peers. And then they sat around to read the Bible with Davis. The atmosphere was relaxing and pleasant. In order to attract students’ attention and keep their interests on the class, Davis showed some vivid pictures and relevant videos of bible stories to her students, which still could help them have a better understanding of the content. Students said that they could feel her love from her passionate hospitality.
Considering the safety and convenience of her students, Davis collected money and bought a van just for picking up students and riding them back home.
Although it takes a lot of time and energy for her to keep the class going well, she still thinks it is the right thing to do. “I feel incredible joy and moved when I’m seeing these changes happen to my students,” she said, “I can feel it – it is like proving the happening of miracles.”
Danny Chang, an international student from Taiwan, endured bad experiences with American students. When he first came here, he was kicked off from his bicycle by some Americans just for fun. This left a deep shadow in his heart – he couldn’t accept Americans and refused to trust them.
“I wanted to test them when I began to come to the class,” Chang said, “I was rude – I made a lot of noise, interrupted the class and behaved horribly. But Lauren didn’t give up me, she was even not mad at me. Instead, I could feel her sadness from her eyes when she was looking at me.”
Davis would never leave her students behind, no matter how rude Chang was. “I felt so bad about those Americans; it wasn’t Danny’s fault,” Davis said. “The only thing I could do was keep loving him. I believed that wasn’t the real Danny.”
“Lauren made me realize I was wrong and I felt so sorry for all these stupid things I did.” Chang said. While spending time with Davis and attending her class, Danny was changed by her great selfless love.
“Actually, he became one of nicest people in my class.” Davis smiled.
The huge differences between western and eastern cultures lead to a lot of misunderstanding, misconception and even discrimination.
“I’ve been here for almost two years, but it is so hard to make real friends with Americans,” Hitomi Yukina said, Davis described her as a shy and sensitive Japanese young woman who just attended the class a few weeks ago, “I was so depressed and frustrated because I felt I was isolated in this society. I wanted to go back to Japan and I cried a lot when I was alone.”
Because of the depressing living status, Yukina began to worry about everything in her life and a lot of negative thoughts grew in her mind. The smile vanished from her face; studying in America became a kind of suffering for her.
“When the first time I stepped into Lauren’s house, I felt the special peace and joy – that’s something I want,” Yukina said, “I love here, which remains me the feeling of home. People are so nice, they help each other and help me a lot. Some time I even don’t want to leave.”
Although Yukina is still living in fear in Eugene, she is worrying less and less. Smiles appear on her face again.
In addition to hold the Bible class, Davis still organizes many outdoor activities, such as having barbecue on the Florence beach and camping near McKenzie River. “I try to bring my students outside and see this country,” said Davis. “I know it is not enough to only help them in my house. They have to adapt this country and be accepted by it too.”
Davis is one of many examples of helping internationals find their belongings when they are far away from their homes. Students said that besides being helped and loved by Davis, the most important thing they have learned from her is using a positive and optimistic attitude to face life and treat others. She is also using her own actions to influence other Americans to treat internationals properly.
“I don’t think I did a lot, I just try my best to deliver God’s love to them,” said Davis. “I like to see their glowing smiling faces when they feel the special love from God.”
Actually, what matters isn’t just the religion, but the person. Davis shows these students her personality and charm. She is giving Bible class, what her students feel is her selfless great love and the warmth of home. From some perspective, Davis is representing all the wonderful things of God to her students. In these internationals’ hearts, Lauren Davis, she represents God; or at least, she is God for them.