As we celebrate Christmas, which groups should us Christians reach out to.
Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible." (NRSV: Mark: 10:27)
In the Bible, there was the Parable of the Prodigal: There was a rich man who had two sons. The younger of them insisted on leaving his father and traveled to a distant country. There he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything and was beset by diseases, he ended up having nothing and became hopeless. He felt regret and remembered the happy times with his father. Kneeling down before his father, he said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But from now on, let me return to you and start all over."
Su Shimin was once the younger son in the story who traveled far and lost. He was born in a family unbelieving God and his mother left him when he was nine months old. His father was a drug addict who was frequently between prison and rehab. So he was taken away and brought up by his grandmother. Life with his grandmother was very lonely which gave him an inferiority complex .He also lacked the warmth of a family and a sense of security. Seeing other people having family dinners during holidays while he had to spend them alone with his grandmother, he felt even worse. His heart was filled with anger and complaints about how unfair the universe was treating him.
His grandma didn't have much education, and even though she gave all her love to him, she didn't know how to discipline him. He ended up with many bad habits like smoking, gambling, peeping and fighting. When he was 11, he got home from school one day and saw his father using drugs with a group of people. He was very curious, so he stole some drugs and tried them. He never thought it was the first breath that gripped him for many years.
With no income, in order to have the money to smoke he had to steal or rob. At 13 he was held by the police on charges of breaking and entering, possession of drugs and dangerous weapons, and other crimes. After that, he was expelled from school. In the next 20 years, he was frequently between prison and rehab until it was commonplace. Even so, after he got out of the prison, he still didn't want to truly repent. Every time he took a blood vow to start over, he ended up in failure. He kept going back to the old life and relied on the drugs. Pursuing the false happiness of carpe diem, he led himself to the edge of life and death
In 1998 due to his repeated using, he was sent to prison for 5 years with 3 counts of flagellation. It was his most serious sentence. One day he was so bored that he went to borrow some Kungfu novels from the prison officer. Who knew the officer gave him a Chinese Bible. When he opened the Bible, he saw a bookmark with some words that caught his attention. It was Hebrews 12:5-6, "My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts."
At that very moment, he felt like he was struck by lightning, and he also felt like he had been whipped by a real man. He felt like God was whispering to him, so he knelt down to pray to God saying, "God, please change my life! Because I learned from my past I can't do this on my own."
From then on the fellow workers from the mission rehab would visit him in prison and preached the gospel to him. They read the Bible, sang hymns, praised and worshiped God, and encouraged him to take part in different ministries. In 2012 when he was released, God guided him to the Singapore "Breakthrough Missions" to continue his equipping and training.
The founder of "Breakthrough Missions", Brother Simon Liang, was a former addict. After tasting the tremendous damage to him, he was determined to quit cold turkey. However, he tried many ways and there was no significant result. He failed. After 1976 when he was referred to a Gospel-based drug rehab center and became a Christian, he never fell off the wagon again. In order to help more addicts with his own experience, he started "Breakthrough Missions" in Singapore. No charge for applicants and they didn't have to rely on medication or their own willpower. But through faith, spiritual work and the love and encouragement of brothers and sisters, the former addicts were given a new lease of life. Apart from daily rehabilitation therapy, people could also receive guidance and training. Residents could learn some skills to solve their financial problems, and when they returned to the society they could support themselves and make contributions.
From the first day in "Breakthrough Missions", Su was greatly attracted by the loving atmosphere. Each pastor, worker, and leader were very friendly to him. They always had smiles on their faces and that gave him the warmth and care that he never had before. Every day at the rehab he lived a very regular Christian life with his heart filled with joy and peace. Whenever he had conflicts in words, thoughts or actions, people would advise and encourage him. They would pray for him without his knowledge and comfort him with verses in the Bible. This helped him walk out of his past shadows and gain spiritual freedom. Gradually, with the influence of the environment he had big changes in his personality. He no longer felt inferior or lonely but had become more and more optimistic. He opened his heart, and many people who used to know him were astonished saying he was a very different person.
Moreover, while God changed his life, he also gave him a very good voice. Even though he had never had professional training, suddenly he could write songs and he used the gift to serve God. He created many grateful and exciting songs. To this day, he has released several albums and his CDs are sold in many Chinese churches all over the world.
When his grandma saw how much her grandson had changed, the Spirit also touched her when she was 86 years old. She finally gave up false gods and accepted Jesus Christ as her savior. One year later she was baptized into Jesus. Now she goes to church every week.
When he truly repented and became a Christian, God gave him a beautiful and virtuous wife, Sister Xin Xiuyin. At the beginning of their relationship, they both had struggled because he was an addict with tattoos all over his body. With 20 years in prison, he had no savings, cars or house. No parents would marry their daughter to him.
However, with prayer, they both had peace in their hearts. Thanking God for His amazing guidance, they got married on Oct 9, 2004, in a church. After they were married, the couple started to walk the Christian path together, and they sometimes had opportunities to praise and testify in churches, even abroad.
At the same time, in order to repay God's grace, he decided to stay in "Breakthrough Missions" to lead the rehabilitation ministry and became a full-time preacher. He was often invited to go to the government rehab centers or prisons for drug-addict counseling, or to hospitals to visit suicidal addicts. He would use his personal experience to advise, warm and help them to walk out of the shadow of drugs, return to the truth of God, and restart their careers and families in Jesus Christ.
As we celebrate Christmas, which groups should us Christians reach out to.
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