Radio Free Asia releases a new report regarding the Chinese government's crackdown churches in Xinjiang.
By Elsie Hu
on February 16, 2017 00:02 AM
Editor's Note: Today is Valentine's Day. People enjoy hearing romantic stories today. However, the real life is not a to. It is not passionate. Loving each other is what's most important in a family. This love is not often passionate or palpitating, but rather it's inclusive, patient, and supportive, requiring unconditional love to bear up. This article is about a long-married couple finding harmony after converting to Christianity.
The following is the narration of W.
The accident that opened auntie's gateway for belief
Auntie didn't believe at first, only slowly believing in false gods after an accident over ten years ago. She had just moved to a new place, and after feeling someone kick her foot she fell down some stairs from the second floor. She wasn't badly hurt but did twist her ankle. A checkup at the hospital determined that it was a normal twisted ankle, but it didn't get any better even after plaster treatment for a month.
There was a neighbor who didn't know about the injury until seeing Auntie walking limply by one day. The neighbor told Auntie to try an "ancient prescription" since the patch would help this injury. Auntie was then told to spread the mixture of rice and tea leaves in four corners outside the door before dawn in order to suppress a "thing."
Auntie's foot started getting better four days after following the neighbor's advice, but it healed very slowly. She still felt a dull pain on her ankle. She went to ask the neighbor about it and she was taught to burn imitation paper money in the four corners of her house to fully heal her ankle. This was how she realized that there were ghosts and gods in the world.
Auntie took an extreme interest in spirituality after that. She wanted to find a "god" that could guard her house and keep her family safe. "Why not keep a Bodhisattva at home?" suggested the neighbor. Auntie spent the next day cleaning and preparing her home for the alter and offerings, and the Bodhisattva was soon invited into her home. She was in fine fettle for a while, probably due to her own hope and support. She not only believed in it, but wanted to convince others to do so as well. Although many people told Auntie it was just superstition and she shouldn't be too zealous, she wouldn't listen. She would play Buddhist sutras and songs at home, and would sometimes meditate quietly for hours.
A chain of effects caused by her "belief"
Many crises emerged after that. Auntie's grocery store was the first on her street, but then a few more opened up that year. Uncle was facing a layoff so his temper grew unstable and he even started smoking a drinking to relieve stress. The couple's daughter and two sons were all going through a divorce. And that was only the beginning.
Auntie still worshiped the Bodhisattva with incense every morning and evening hoping for protection, but Uncle was growing annoyed with the lack of visible effects, so he would complain whenever Auntie worshiped. Auntie worried that Uncles words irritated the gods, and they began to quarrel. Over time, the quarrels moved from worshipping the Bodhisattva to other matters, such as careers, family, children, relations with other people, and more. Uncle's formerly mild personality grew harsh and he would even smash plates and phones.
Uncle once said that he was in a fret as soon as he got home, not pleased with anything his wife did. He couldn't control his temper even if he wanted to. Auntie thought that he had offended the Bodhisattva and remembered the "ancient prescription" from the neighbor, so she burned some paper money three days in a row like she had done before.
Not only did it not work, however, it made uncle feel even worse. He threw out her basin for burning the paper money, the paper money, the incense, and even the Bodhisattva and all the offerings, and angrily told her "No more worshipping things like this at home."
After that, Uncle would start smashing things as soon as Auntie brought the Bodhisattva back into the home. After several incidents, Auntie finally learned that Uncle was serious. She wrapped the Bodhisattva in a red cloth, put it in a wooden box, and hid it under the bed meaning to worship in secret with a genuine heart.
The situation didn't change, however. Uncle still threw temper tantrums every day at home. The marriages of their children fell apart with quarreling, and they all separated. Auntie felt disappointment for the first time in her life after seeing all the problems in her family, and she wondered if there were ghosts and gods and how could people please the god in worship. These questions weighed on her for some time.
With the pressure from Uncle and her own growing doubts about the Bodhisattva, Auntie started asking other people about religion until she heard about Christianity from an old Christian sister in the neighborhood.
Auntie changed her family through knowing the true God
This old sister passed her front door every week on her way to church, and she could always hear the Buddhist sutras and songs through the window. She had believed the family to be deeply devoted in their belief since they played it every day, and wished they could instead worship God - Jehovah - with such devotion.
The sister started praying quietly for the family. She told people at church about them, asking them to pray also. She believed that God would open a door for her to share the Gospel with them at the right time. As expected, one year later she got to talk about her faith while purchasing some things from Auntie's store. She spent a long time explaining about false gods and the one true God. Auntie listened to all this very patiently. Although she still doubted, she promised to go to church with the sister on the weekend to learn the difference between the Bodhisattva and God.
Her initial impression was only that there were many warm and friendly people in the church. She couldn't understand the sermons, but everyone would share with her and explain the meaning to her after the service. "It is better to have a group of people believing together as one than to try and believe alone." Auntie agreed to go to church with the old sister because of this.
She couldn't understand anything for the first six months, but then Auntie discovered that the hymns were very good. Compared to the Buddhist songs she couldn't even understand, the lyrics of the hymns would touch her heart. That was her beginning. She went to fellowship and even Bible study for the next six months and gradually learned that while there are many beliefs in the world not all of them are worth pursuing. To understand true faith, one must understand the difference between false gods and the one true God. She settled into the church and began to understand more and more of the truth of faith. She cleared her house of the Buddhist things, choosing to be quiet or admit defeat from Uncles temper, instead of arguing with him like before.
Auntie's submissiveness didn't make Uncle's temper get any better, though. Due to the problems from her worshipping the Bodhisattva, Uncle was strongly opposed to her worshipping Christ. He forbade Auntie from doing anything related to her belief, including listening to sermons and hymns, reading her Bible, and praying. He would even tear up Bibles, throwing them and crosses in the trash when he found them at home. It was worse than when Auntie had been worshipping the Bodhisattva.
People in the Church encouraged Auntie to pray for Uncle and his objections, saying "You believe in the one true God. Do not be afraid. Just believe. In the world of God, Satan will attack you, but you need to cast aside the things left in your family and husband." Auntie once tried to share the Gospel with her husband, but she only got curses and objections from him. After that, she feared to bring it up again, and just prayed quietly.
The faith changed Auntie's behavior and Uncle's heart
Uncle was diagnosed with early stage lung cancer about one year later. The stress of the disease hit him hard and he lost weight very quickly, living in fear of death in the hospital bed, despite the doctor telling him that it was treatable. He was still seized by panic all day fearing that his life would end there. This gave Auntie an opportunity and she shared a verse with him. "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) After seeing that Uncle didn't speak or rebuke her, she explained the verse. Uncle listened carefully to her about the bible.
Auntie suggested reading a verse to him, with a five-minute explanation, every day, along with praying for his health. Uncle only said, "If your God is real, heal me and I will believe."
Auntie invited the church people to come together to pray for uncle, and told him to quit drinking and smoking. She took care of him the whole time he was sick with gentle actions, only comforting him with compassionate words even when he cursed in a bad mood from the pain. Uncle began to realize that Auntie was different after believing in Jesus. They had both quarreled with the Bodhisattva when he smashed things, but now it was only him.
Auntie selected one verse to read and explain to him every day, according to his condition. She also prayed for his healing non-stop. People from the church visited often, and Uncles heart gradually began to change. He asked Auntie to pray for his healing on the day of his surgery. It went well and with Auntie's careful attendance not only did he stop drinking and smoking, he recovered quickly. His temper got better and he stopped smashing things.
W's uncle still has not become a Christian, but he no longer objects to Auntie's faith. W said that Auntie has been praying for her children's marriages, and her oldest son is back with his wife, as well as her daughter and son in law, who had almost divorced. Her youngest son divorced, but he is living well so his parents don't need to worry.
Auntie spares no effort in spreading the Gospel, working even harder than before. She said, "I spent more than ten years worshipping false gods, and finally found the one true God. After all that trouble, I can only use more time to worship this true God."
Translated by: Grace Hubl
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