Today, I would like to share about a difficult experience and relationship in which I've been involved. Sister T had an unhappy marriage. Her brother-in-law was unemployed after his mother committed suicide, and he was afraid of getting married. There was a lot of tension within the family. However, by going through all these hardships, the family was touched by God's love. Following these experiences, the entire family became Christian and God's work began to revive love within the family and ease the tension among the members.
The mother-in-law's suicide
Because of Sister T's unhappy marriage, she had filed for divorce several times. We preached the Gospel to her and showed that we cared about her by accompanying and assisting her. She came to the church gatherings frequently, read the Bible and prayed to God. One Sunday morning the sister brought her husband and mother-in-law to our gathering. Her mother-in-law, who was in her 80s, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, which caused periodic dementia.
After the Sunday service, I had lunch with them and we had a chat in the restaurant. I had spent much time interceding for them. Before that time, Sister T suffered from great anxiety and pain. Every time we met she would tell us stories of her bad marriage and the urgency of her mother-in-law's ever-worsening Alzheimer's disease. The aged lady's three children disagreed on their mother's treatment and nursing care, living place, and the cost of the treatment as she didn't have medical insurance. The children tried to avoid their responsibility and bargained with each other as to what she be done.
Sister T's husband was the oldest child in the family. While the three children were shirking their responsibilities,their mother was unable to take her medicine for more than one week. I was worried about her and planned to spend one day assisting Sister T in persuading her husband that the youngest brother should take care of their mother because Sister T's husband was in a better position to provide financial assistance for his mother. In this way perhaps the three children could afford to send their mother to an institution where she would receive professional care.
However, her husband couldn't be persuaded and didn't take our advice seriously. The excuse he always gave was that his mother hadn't taken care of him and treated him well since he was fifteen years old, that he had always been on his own, that what his mother had done to him had hurt him, and he felt sick when he looked at her. I could feel her husband's bitterness as he complained about his mother. Sister T felt that all of our attempts at changing the situation were in vain.
On the morning of the third day, Sister T received a phone call from her husband, informing her that during the night his mother had committed suicide by jumping out of the window of her youngest son's home! Because of this tragedy, the families experienced significant grief when they gathered together. The atmosphere in the family was tense, causing all of us to be quite worried.
The family's struggles in darkness
After her mother-in-law's suicide, Sister T had to put aside her troublesome marriage and deal with her brother-in-law's psychological trauma. I saw his pale and mournful face and helpless eyes when Sister T first brought him to the church. I greeted him by shaking hands, but found his hand was cold and shivering. He was dealing not only with his mother's death but also his unemployment (he was once an enterprise executive). Although he was in his 50s, he hadn't married because of the issues within his larger family.
Sister T's broken marriage
Every time that we met Sister T she complained tearfully about the misery of her marriage, telling me that her husband's family was in extreme poverty when she got married to him. In order to improve the family's financial predicament she had to quit her good job and begin to run her own business. For decades she played the role of breadwinner for the family, but her husband, who had had a stable job, hardly provided any economic contribution to the family and refused to perform his family duties. She felt little affection from her husband, and at his insistence even had an abortion that left her permanently infertile. Because of this, she filed for divorce nine times. Meanwhile, her husband complained that she grumbled a lot. They quarreled a great deal and there was poor communication between them. When she went to file for divorce, Sister T found a lawyer who happened to be my friend and a Christian. In this way the Gospel was shared with her.
The broken family of Sister T's husband
Sister T's husband's mother had two marriages in which both of her husbands died early because of illness. She raised three children on her own, and even when alive her husbands never took their family responsibilities seriously, refusing to take care of the family and the kids. At present, of the three siblings, the oldest is married but is reluctant to have a child, for they are poor and he doesn't want his child to suffer as he did. This is why he asked his wife to have an abortion.
The younger two children are fearful of being married for the same reasons. Their mother was at the bottom of society, with no financial security or guarantee of subsistence, and her youngest daughter even has a disability. The mother had a bad temperament and was irritable and bad-tempered. When the three children were young, they never had a father's love and had an indifferent family relationship, which left them with painful memories. Therefore, the three children resented and complained about their mother.
Prayer to God in desperation: where are you?
How meaningless and hopeless life can be if we are in the same situation as this family. The only thing we could do was to accompany Sister T, pray together with her, ask God to save her and her family and suggest that they participate in church gatherings and Bible study regularly, and build a family altar.
Touches of God's love
After this, they attended our church gatherings frequently and Sister T insisted on going to Bible class for three years. As people in the church walked with the couple and church leaders gave assistance and direction, they confessed their shortcomings, repented and forgave each other's past wrong deeds. Sister T and her husband participated in a couple's retreat and even went for another honeymoon, which, according to Sister T, was sweeter than their first one. Her husband changed and she was happier and more peaceful day-by-day. Soon Sister T decided to believe in God and was baptized.
The Husband believing in and praying to God
The most miraculous part is that the first time Sister T invited her husband to attend church, he was accepted, hugged and encouraged with love, which made him feel that he was touched by God's love. He decided to believe and immediately began to pray to God. He also started to repent of his deeds, confessed his sin of resenting his mother, showed regret at not being able to shoulder the responsibilities of a husband, started to pay for family expenses and mend his competitive relationship with his siblings.
Sister T's brother-in-law has been an active and passionate participant in our Sunday service and team gatherings. He has taken part in spiritual training classes and Bible reading. He has been gradually touched by God's love, his grieved spirit has been renewed and he has repented of the difficult relationship with his siblings.
- Translated by Li Runping