A famous Bible verse from Jesus is “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” My mustard seed was planted by an American professor who taught at a Chinese university in the mid-1980s.
God Saw My Heart
The first time I heard the name Jesus was December 25th, 1985. On that Christmas day, my American professor secretly took me and several other freshmen to an underground church. An elderly Chinese pastor secretly preached a sermon on how Jesus was born and later crucified. Living in a tradition and culture in which gods never sacrifice themselves for humans, I was very impressed with Jesus. “I love Jesus!” I began to think.
The pastor also shared Communion on that Christmas day with the few Christians who attended the service. Seeing new faces, the pastor naturally asked each of us whether we were baptized. When I answered “No,” he passed me and did not give me Communion. At that moment, I told myself, “I would like to take for Communion one day.”
Today, looking back, I believe that God saw my heart at that very moment.
The Cost of Being a Disciple
I love Jesus, but being a disciple of Jesus cost more than I imagined. For more than two decades, the mustard seed “fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil” (Matthew 13: 5).
In China, most people don’t know Jesus or even have a chance to read the Bible. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) demonizes Christianity as an opium that makes people weak and poor, both physically and spiritually. Like millions of Chinese, I was brainwashed and drifted away from God without learning more about Jesus. Yet, God didn’t forget me.
In my early forties, waiting (in China) for the day to retire, God opened a door for me and gave me an opportunity to come to the United States. I first landed in a small town in Ohio, where many buildings downtown were churches. I was surrounded by Christians. They read the Bible with me. They took me to church. They invited me to their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. They asked me whether I would like to be baptized before returning to China.
Knowing -and fearing- how Christians have been ostracized and persecuted in China, I declined the first chance to be baptized. However, God didn’t give up on me. When I was wandering in the darkness and suffering from depression, God opened another door for me.
I was baptized in 2012, 27 years after I first heard the name of Jesus. Since then, I have been following Jesus, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). To give a voice to the voiceless in China, I have published many articles disclosing how the Chinese government has persecuted Christians and committed a crime of genocide against the Uyghur people.
The cost of “learning to do right” is, among other things, that I have not seen my parents for 15 years and most likely I won’t be able to see them in this life.
Love the People God Gives You
When I started my blog, I chose Ruth’s Journey as my blog title. At that time, I just began my “regular” Christian life — going to church every Sunday, listening to Christian songs, reading the Bible sometimes, and praying occasionally. While I missed my parents and felt very guilty that I could not take care of them, I knew I must stay with God and continue my journey as a disciple of Jesus.
What Ruth said to her mother-in-law has encouraged me to follow Jesus. “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16).
The people God gives me are people in the United States. Recently, a gentleman learned that I was baptized in this country. Then, he asked me whether I was a member of a church and of what denomination. When I told him that I am a member of the Assemblies of God and believe in the gift of speaking in tongues, he asked me a question with a cagey smile. “Are there many White people attending your church?”
“As a matter of fact, most people in my church are non-White. There are Indians from India, Hispanics, Filipinos, African Americans, and Blacks from Ghana and Nigeria.” Hearing my reply, the gentleman looked a little puzzled and bewildered.
I came from a country that has been promoting a homogenous culture for centuries. The Chinese Communist Party always tries to divide people and discourage people from interacting with foreigners. To control people’s thoughts, the Chinese government uses media and other propaganda tools to make people believe that foreigners are dangerous and are trying to influence Chinese culture and destroy China. Without freedom of thought, we Chinese do not have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and other God-given rights.
I have a greater fondness and appreciation for the United States of America, because of my first-hand experiences in China. I love Americans — friends, fellow church members, colleagues, neighbors, and the men and women cleaning my apartment building every day — regardless of their race, ethnicity, and nationality. One of the beauties of living in the United States is to have opportunities every day to meet people from all over the world and to have the freedom to socialize with any of them.
I truly appreciate that freedom; I love the people God gives me.