China changed my life.
I was on a team of four American college students and all we knew was that we were headed to East Asia to backpack for the glory of God.
When we showed up in China, it was nothing like we had ever imagined. Our M (code for missionary) told us we would be doing linguistic research of unreached people groups. He handed us a wad of cash and said, "Here is all of your money – you will probably run out, so here is an extra 3000 U.S. dollars. I've never been to the places you are going and we don't even know if these people exist or not – so have fun, and see you in two weeks."
I was overwhelmed at our task, but assured that our God was great enough to take care of us.
From the first day it was clear to see that God had granted us favor- He was faithful and taught us wonders about His incredible provision and love. Every morning we would have absolutely no idea where we were going or what we were going to do, but God taught us to be Hebrews 11 people - to walk in faith, meditate on His word, trust Him completely, and proclaim the gospel wherever we went.
It was amazing to watch His plan unfold and to see Him bless us and care for us. Whenever we were hungry someone would always say, "Hey I just made lunch, do you want some?" Or every time we were too tired to walk any further a car would pull up and offer us a ride. God is so good, and He truly provides.
On Christmas Day, we were on a bus for six hours headed to a small city that we hoped would offer us quick access to many minority villages. We arrived at dusk, and were surprised at what surrounded us. The smell of burning plastic, exhaust, and rotting trash met us. Everything in the city was covered with dirt and grease, and every eye that looked at us was filled with anger and hostility. We hadn't expected an overwhelmingly warm greeting but we weren't prepared for what we saw.
We spent forty minutes looking for a place to stay, but everywhere was dirty and people kept closing their doors when our translators said that foreigners wanted to stay there. We could feel the darkness in the air - our hearts were heavy, but our minds were alert. We began to pray for protection and guidance and favor. We prayed for a person of peace to help us. Then a woman came up to us and asked what we were doing. When we explained our situation, she offered to help us look for a place to stay.
She was really confused why we had chosen that city- she said no foreigners ever come there, and it wasn't even tourist season. She told us that security had been heightened because of a coming festival so every governmental official and every policeman would have their eyes on us. She also told us that this was a very dangerous place; they are known for selling drugs and weapons on the streets. It was also common for foreigners to get kidnapped, so we were to trust no one.
Our skin was crawling with fear, but our minds were set on God, and so we continued to pray.
There was only one hotel in the city that would allow foreigners to stay there, and it was sketchy and overpriced. Finally the woman said we needed to go to the police station. We froze - wasn't that the opposite of what we wanted to do? But she told us we had to get registered, and we went. We were afraid that we would be interrogated or kicked out, and so we prayed.
I could see that my team was really uncomfortable as were the locals we were traveling with. Finally one of the women approached me and said that they were all very uncomfortable. I replied that we had two options – either to stay or to go. She said, “ok, which is it?”
I knew this was not a decision I could make on my own and I asked for guidance – God said stay.
And so we stayed.
We got to the police station and were ordered to sit in a corner for forty minutes before we were given our documents and were free to go. We didn't have to answer a single question and now we were free to stay anywhere in the city! God is so good.
Later in our trip, we were visiting a minority village sharing the story from creation to Christ with a family in an unreached people group. More people from the village started to gather and listen. There were a lot of middle aged men who started looking very hostile, and when we finished the story they all said that they firmly believed in Buddha and in ancestor worship. We decided it was probably our time to leave, so we thanked them for their hospitality and headed toward the door.
As we walked out an old lady began to hug us and as we were leaned over she whispered "I believe. I believe in that Jesus-guy."
We were overjoyed. God's light was spreading into unreached people groups and He had allowed us to be a part of it.
God used China to change my life. Never have I had to rely so completely on His provision and His goodness. But He came through, as He always does. God is always teaching me to love better, to see the world as He sees it, and to be radically abandoned for the sake of His gospel and His glory.