Taiwanese kung-fu master Liu Chang probably didn’t think a routine seminar he led at Virginia Bluefield College would lead to him to Christ.
But that’s just what happened.
Liu, a widely-respected karate expert, was one of two visiting instructors at a martial-arts seminar hosted by Doug Minnix, Bluefield’s faculty advisor for the school’s karate club. Liu was joined by Kimo Wall, an American karate expert who conducts seminars around the world.
“Master Liu is no typical kung-fu master,” Doug said. “He is a 12th-generation direct descendant of the White Crane system.”
The White Crane system is a southern Chinese martial art practiced around the world. It is characterized by deep-rooted stances, intricate hand techniques and fighting at close range. There are different levels of the system; the Feeding Crane level, at which Liu excels, is the most combative.
“[Liu’s] technique reminds me of the legendary methods that are only read about and no longer to be found,” said Doug. “How such a remarkable individual ended up on tour with Kimo Wall and in the small town of Bluefield, I believe was orchestrated by God.”
Before making his own profession of Christian faith, Doug practiced the principles of Zen Buddhism and traveled to China to research the particular style of karate to which he was devoted.
But, “In the midst of a culture dominated by Zen, I had a God moment,” Doug recalled about his trip to China. “While walking down the streets, a young man witnessed to me about Jesus and handed me a Gospel tract. This seed stayed in my heart and would remain, yet undeveloped, until I returned to Bluefield College.”
After seeing that many Scriptures were similar to karate principles, he began a karate Life to merge his two loves – faith and fitness. Doug and Kimo, his longtime sensei, decided to invite Liu to teach students and club members the Feeding crane system.
But, the karate students were not the only ones who left the martial-arts seminar changed. During an after-hours dinner, Liu shared a personal story of how he found both lost relatives and martial-arts techniques. The circumstances, he said, were magic, because they were too well orchestrated to be coincidence.
Kimo boldly responded, “Not magic, but a miracle, the power of God.”
Later during the seminar, Liu received word from Taiwan that his home had been damaged by a typhoon. Concerned about his family, Liu found encouragement from people within the college and local church community. They offered Liu support and prayer. Sensing God’s direction in the entire experience, Doug gave Liu a Chinese/English Bible.
“Following some encouragement by Kimo sensei, I finally presented Mr. Liu with the Gospel,” Doug said. “He opened the book, and with tears in his eyes and a humble disposition, said, ‘All my life I hear about this book, but today [is] the first day I see it.'”
Doug shared later that he and Kimo were amazed at how a man of such position and power could be touched by God so quickly.
Doug recalled, “He said to me, ‘Now you first time from now on study Feeding Crane; now I first time from now on study the Book.’ I can’t explain how I felt that night. God truly intervened and crossed cultural lines to connect us in a very special way.”
Liu ended his trip with a visit to Doug’s church, and said afterward, “This is [the] first time I go to church. I feel very special power [that I have] not felt before.”
Liu communicated later with Doug and others his desire to learn more about Jesus. He also said his Bluefield experience is one he plans to share with students all over the world.
“I will never forget Bluefield,” Liu said. “Bluefield is [the] place where I first talk to God. I go home and tell people here, and they cannot believe. ‘You talk to God?’ Amazed.”
Crystal Kieloch writes for Bluefield College.