A Very Different Mission
By E.C. | China
“But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” Romans 10:14-15, 17
When the Lord called me to be a missionary I had my own set of ideas and dreams of what that may look like. I pictured the whimsical side of bringing Christ to the nations and setting sail to distant isles where I would be able to preach to hundreds and cause conversions in the masses. Like many of my missionary brothers and sisters, we all seem to prepare for a life that we expect and the Lord just smiles and laughs at our naivety and gives us a reality far different and more beautiful than what was expected.
In the city, our preaching style takes on a different form as we share Christ’s saving message and proposal of a life with meaning and purpose. Since we cannot openly preach to the masses, we rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal the souls in which He has already been working or ones that are open to His promptings.
In the first month of our arrival I met Honey, a 27 year old Chinese national. She was beautiful, loving, and magnetic. She immediately clung to me, stayed in my room attempting to teach me Mandarin until my eyes were heavy, gave gifts welcoming us to China, and showed us many pictures of her family and friends. As time continued, we witnessed many sufferings and trials that Honey was enduring and sat on the sidelines in constant prayer for her perseverance. Honey did not know the Lord, grew up in a small village that only had Muslim mosques, and was thirsting for love and truth.
It wasn’t until the Focus Missionaries came to China and gave a talk to a community nearby, that I finally listened to the whisper of God begging me to direct attention to discipling Honey and bringing her to His mercy. I finally recognized that Christ called me to China to serve her and help her begin this process of conversion and healing. The very next day I became more intentional in the planning of my week, setting aside time to see her at work, inviting her over for meals, and asking her to join our weekly prayer meetings.
For the first time in four months, Honey came to our prayer meeting and sat in for my talk on Mary. Since I had prepared my teaching for Catholics who knew at least the basics of our faith, I had to throw out my preparations and start from scratch, introducing God the Father, the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ the Son, and Mary the Mother of God. It was a nerve-racking, yet blessed meeting, and I thanked God for her attendance and the opportunity to share His message.
The very next day when I stopped in to see Honey at work, she called me aside, thanked me for the talk, and said that she had something to show me. She began to reach for her purse, pulled out her wallet, and revealed an aged image of Mary and baby Jesus within one of the inserts. She said that when she had felt alone or had no one to speak with, that she would pull out this image and talk to this woman. I was in awe!! Tears flooded my eyes as I saw how our Mother had already claimed Honey as Her own and had begun work on her prior to my arrival in China. Mary had brought Honey to the talk the night prior and had given her to me so that I may, in turn, bring her to Jesus Christ, Her Son.
It has been three months since Honey came to that first prayer meeting and God has only continued a marvelous work in her. She now attends every Tuesday meeting, shares during the time of reflection, asks clarifying questions when given a scriptural text, and has been wearing a cross necklace, earrings, and bracelet daily.
In Chinese culture where many do not share feelings or personal experiences with friends, Honey told me that from the very first time we met, she trusted me and desired to open up about herself and her experiences. (This is only a credit to the Lord and His works through me.) At the end of July Honey invited me to her hometown to celebrate her son’s third birthday and I revealed to her for the first time that I was a missionary sent here to share the love of God and its transforming power. That night we stayed up until 4am talking about the faith, her struggles, and how she now finds meaning in her sufferings. It was an amazing opportunity for us both to be vulnerable and share our desire for healing from Christ.
Josemaria Escriva in The Way, said something that characterized the mission here in China, “Among those around you — apostolic soul — you are the stone fallen into the lake. With your word and your example you produce a first circle… and it another… and another, and another…. Wider each time. Now do you understand the greatness of your mission?”
After seven months of prayer, trials, and deep reflection, I believe that I finally do understand! The greatness has been, and always will be, spreading the Good News of Christ to the nations. But, I am now even more content starting with just one soul at a time. Please pray for Honey and her desire to become a Christian, for her son, Leo, and that she may continue to grow in her relationship with the Lord. There are many others here that we are actively discipling that need your prayers and we ask that Christ may reveal others that are thirsting for truth.
By E. C.