A Better Way of Living
People from all over the world come to volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity (MCs) in the different homes for the sick and dying established by Blessed Mother Teresa. Some mornings there are over a hundred volunteers from different cultures, languages, and faiths. I went as part of a small group from the States, seeking the Lord in the sick and poor of these homes, our hearts open to the humble privilege of serving their basic needs. However, our first morning there, the Lord assigned me to another task: ministering to one of the volunteers.
His name was Xing*. I met him as we prepared to walk to the home we were volunteering at for the next few days. Xing was from China, he was here traveling before heading back to school. At some point, he had heard about the MCs and was curious. I don’t think he realized that these would be the “best days in his life.”
Xing didn’t believe in God and had never been introduced to Jesus. His idea of the human person was that he or she was valuable so long as they contributed to the progress of society. I expressed how each person, being made in the image of God, has dignity and is beautiful. I talked with him about Jesus, the Son of God: about the love of God the Father, and how He created everything to be good. We spoke about sin, and our weak, fallen nature and the salvation of man through the obedient death of Jesus. I told him about the hope we, as Christians, have for eternal life through Jesus’ resurrection. We discussed that man can only be truly free in Jesus, and it requires us to make a choice, to either accept Him or to reject Him. “Jesus is asking us to follow Him. He is asking you to follow Him.” Finally, I told him that this is what we do as missionaries. We are His messengers bringing the Good News to others.
Several nights in a row we invited Xing to have dinner with us. We welcomed him into our community, breaking bread together and sharing our love. Quickly, he was no longer a stranger. Some nights we had praise and worship. These sessions of song and praise were so powerful. The Spirit was moving in each of our hearts. Xing would sing with us, and when we all prayed aloud, he would also speak.
At one point, Xing wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t make it to volunteer. My missionary brother went to check on him and offered to take him to the clinic to get checked out. It was all God’s providence, my fellow missionary continued to teach him about Jesus, even going so far as to draw a picture of salvation history. Xing’s heart continued to remain open.
Before Xing departed for his home country, my mission partner and I presented him with a New Testament Bible. He was amazed that we would give him this book which is so special and sacred to us. As we said goodbye, he said: “When I return home, I am going to tell my wife about Christians. I want to help Christians in my country. I see now that Christians are needed in the world, because they bring hope to people. And people need hope.”
I have stayed in touch with Xing since we parted ways. His messages are amazing reminders of how encountering the Lord changes lives. Some excerpts from his emails:
“Thanks so much for having me in your prayers! The days I spent there with you and your group members are really unforgettable, which also changes me a lot. It also makes me believe I could be a better man. Thank you so much! I am lucky to find you.”
I still cherish this trip. It provokes many new thoughts for me and makes me more open-minded. The best lesson I learned was [in they city with you]. The days in with your group are some of the best days in my life, even though I was not feeling well. Thanks to you and other members of the group, I learned to respect Christianity from the bottom of my heart and finally realized I can learn from the religion! From Christianity, I found out a better way of living, that is, simply, to take and spread love. In the rest of the trip, I keep doing that. And I will go on holding this key.
In this trip, I reconsidered many things and kept being open-minded. So I came up with many interesting conclusions. I used to be indifferent about politics. But in this trip, I thought a lot about politics, democracy and my country. I think I need to read more deeply into my own country, including its good sides and drawbacks. So I think my trip doesn’t really end. My trip continues in China.”
The Lord has a way of placing us right where He needs us, and really, right where one person needs us. My plan was to serve the poor and sick in the home. Yet He asked me to minister and to nourish, not someone who was physically impoverished, but someone who was spiritually impoverished. Reflecting on this, I am in awe of God. He used me in a new way. It was the first time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I had ever expounded the fundamental message of the Gospel, the kerygma, to someone who had never heard. Give all praise to the Holy Spirit! What if I hadn’t spoken to him about Jesus? What if we hadn’t invited him into our community? By our presence on the other side of the world, Jesus was able to reach this one man and now this man wants to bring the same hope and love to the people in his country. Glory to God!
“I found out a better way of living, that is, simply, to take and spread love”
*Due to religious persecution in certain countries, names have been changed or omitted for the safety of those involved.