After months of asking the people at the college to help us get a credit card from the Bank of China (where John has a checking account – apparently they don’t allow joint checking accounts in China – or at least that is what we were told), we decided to brave attempting to acquire one ourselves when we went to deposit the two months worth of pay we had been given in cash.
Upon walking into the bank, we were greeted by two women behind a desk. We showed them our cash, and one of the women directed us to the teller to make a deposit. While John deposited the money, I looked around at the brochures trying to find a picture of a Mastercard or Visa to show the women what we wanted. My quest proved unsuccessful; however, I aroused the curiosity of both the women and the security guard, so I walked up to them, pulled out a piece of paper, and wrote “Mastercard”. They didn’t understand, but they did have a lovely light pink phone that they used to call a help line with a translator. Once they figured out that we wanted a credit card, they proceeded to inquire if we were allowed to have one. After passing the phone back and forth between us and them several times, the translator finally told us that we were not allowed to have a credit card because our employer couldn’t verify that we would be able to pay it back.
Why? Well because we are working here illegally – or rather being paid illegally. You see, we have F visas which are for unpaid internships and short-term business trips; people with F visas cannot be paid in China. We have actually signed two contracts – one between us and the school stating our salary and one for government records indicating that we are here voluntarily and are not paid. Since we aren’t being paid, we don’t technically have an employer who can verify that we make enough to pay the credit card. Thus we cannot have a credit card in China.
And this means that while we have money in China, we cannot pay our bills back in the States. The only way for us to get money out of the country will be to carry it out when we leave and convert it to US dollars in the airport upon landing in the States. (Trust me, we have researched mailing money, sending it via Paypal or Western Union – both require either a credit card or paperwork we don’t have – and getting a credit card from the bank.) Until then we have to trust God to pay our debt like He promised us He would. He has proven Himself faithful so far – every month when it has seemed impossible to pay all of our credit cards and student loans, He has provided the money for us. And I have no doubt that He will continue to provide. If He sent His son to pay our spiritual debt, He will also continue to take care of us and pay our financial debt.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:7-11