We boarded a bus with chickens and headed into the unknown. Finny, Xin, Bobo and I were off on a great adventure—to a small town in China that might as well have been the edge of the planet. We armed ourselves with nothing more than prayer God would use us to share the Good News with a town who had never heard the name of Jesus.
If the door on my mission’s team had not been slammed in my face, none of us would have been on that bus. My friend Elengi (a Chinese college student I had led to Christ 2 years before) never would have shared her heart for telling the people of her hometown about Jesus. I would not have gone to Thailand with Finny when she suggested we take a group of Chinese friends to do exactly what Elengi requested. So there we were—and I think we were all a little scared (after all, evangelism is illegal in China).
Fast-forward. Elengi, Finny, Xin, Bobo & I take a prayer walk around the dusty town with narrow alleyways & miles of farmland surrounded by mountains. We pray for God to open doors for our message. We make friends with four old ladies. My heart feels heavy both in remembrance of the pain of what happened just months before AND for the souls of the people of that town. Then it happens.
A woman in her forties walks up to us and asks, “Can you tell me about Jesus? I want to know!” Stunned. Shocked. None of us speak for 30 seconds in disbelief. She continues, “And I want you to come tell all my students, too.”
She was the town’s only English teacher and taught every class in the city. I suddenly felt very, very small. Small in realization that the mighty King was using ‘the least of these’ to write His story onto the hearts of children. All my ‘why’ questions about the past seemed insignificant. Ok, I trust you. Forgive me for my unbelief. Where you lead, I will follow.
“Teacher Shi” led us to her school the next afternoon, fully aware our message was illegal. She was putting herself in a dangerous situation—there were children in her classes whose fathers worked for the government & the local police—but none of it fazed her. She had heard about Jesus in college and had a recurring dream that white people would come to tell her more. Teacher Shi knew the Gospel was true even before we had said a word.
The five of us told classes full of students from 1st-6th grade about the story of God. We told them He loved them more than they could possibly imagine. We taught them “Jesus Loves Me” and I fought to maintain composure as they sung their hearts out in very broken English. We took a break for dinner and Teacher Shi and her teaching assistants accepted Jesus’ death as a payment for their sins. After some kind of unrecognizable food & lots of walnuts, we headed back to the school to tell the evening classes the Good News.
But this time there weren’t just students there. Chinese parents lined the wall of the back of the classroom as they too wanted to hear about Jesus.
Many trusted Christ during our time in the countryside town. A Buddhist monk left his life in the temple and started reading the Bible after Bobo told Him about Jesus. I spent time with one 93-year-old woman who lived in a concrete alleyway without a roof over her head. She had outlived all her children—except for her daughter who was serving a life sentence in prison. She spoke a dialect and could not understand Mandarin. But 8 months later, my friend Natalie and I went to visit her. We sat with her every afternoon, but still could not communicate. One afternoon, we prayed for a miracle. We desperately wanted her to know Jesus. Not thirty minutes later, her nephew ‘stopped by’ her alleyway and offered to translate the Gospel. I spoke in English, Natalie translated to Mandarin, and her nephew translated into her dialect. She believed! She did not stop smiling and saying ‘thank you’ as we placed a cross around her neck. The first thing she said after praying, “My legs are not even good for kneeling and praying. I can’t believe Jesus will still take me to heaven with Him when I die.”
Don’t ever give up Hope. If all your plans have crumbled, cling to Jesus. Keep your head lifted high and ask, “Where are you leading? Because where you go, I will follow.” God promises to transform your wrecked plans, shattered dreams, and pain for good.
Can you relate? Have you ever felt like God closed a door only to lead you on an incredible journey?