"Bodhisattva, if my son lives this time, I will cover your statue with gold..." a woman named Qiaomei knelt on the ground, kowtowing reverently, with a red mark on her forehead for hitting hard on red bricks.
This happened 45 years ago when public worship had just been made allowed in China.
Later, the child died right after birth, who was the third son parted immediately after coming into the world.
After a while, the father-in-law said, "If our family want to have a boy, we need to find someone to rely on."
The family thought there was something wrong with the old man's solution. Wouldn’t it be normal to try to find a way to buy a boy, as many Chaoshan people had done?
The father-in-law explained that the night before Qiaomei gave birth, he had a dream in which a group of vicious people, dressed in black, were guarding the door of his house. One of them gave orders, saying, "When hearing the baby cry, go in and take him out. So-and-so, you are on the lookout, if you see a cross, immediately alert us..."
He then believed that the cross should be a very powerful object. Therefore, if the daughter-in-law were to labor, she should go to the town care medical clinic which had a cross on it, rather than worshiping idols everywhere. But his wife and the daughter-in-law claimed that it was too expensive to labor in the clinic, yet, the Fu talismans and magic instruments bought from the witch were not free, either.
A distant relative of their family, working in the Northeast came home for the Chinese Spring Festival. During his visit, he mentioned beliefs when chatting and drinking tea, saying that one of his former workmates was a Christian, for which he was almost crippled after being beaten for protecting a cross. The father-in-law quickly interrupted, questioning, "Shouldn’t the cross protect him?"
Qiaomei was pregnant again and gave birth to a baby girl. Her father-in-law comforted her that even though it was a girl, she would help bring a brother to the family. Besides, the baby girl was extraordinarily beautiful.
But the little girl who was forced to drink all kinds of Fu water in her mother's womb closed her beautiful eyes after struggling to survive for ten months.
Losing children, being slandered by other villagers saying that their ancestors didn’t do any good deeds, and being accused of killing their children themselves, brought such intense pain that Qiaomei thought that it would be better to die. Coincidentally, the mother-in-law also had the same thought, so the two of them cast into the river, hand in hand.
A newlywed wife in the village saved them when she came out to wash lingerie in the river in darkness. She wore a necklace with a cross pendant on her neck.
A group of people from the closest church to their home came to remove idol statues. The group leader was a cousin of Qiaomei's mother, who had passed away many years. He shook his head while cleaning, blaming her, "Are you bringing all the fairies and ghosts in the entire Chaoshan area into your home?"
The next year, Qiaomei gave birth to a cute boy. The child grew up safely. Qiaomei was very proud, believing that her child would live in God’s temple peacefully throughout his life!
Later as her son grew up, he married the most beautiful girl in the neighboring village who he met in the church choir at the right age. At that time, their family was very poor since they had given all their savings to worshiping various idols. Every time Qiaomei would stand up emotionally when speaking of it, crying: "How could I have ever expected to become who I am today? Thank the Lord!"
Some villagers admired what happened to her, following her in coming to faith. The unbelieving village doctor then analyzed Qiaomei’s situation from a medical perspective. He insisted that her having a son successfully wasn’t because of believing in Jesus. Previously she was so desperate to have a boy that she reached out to all kinds of idols everywhere, for which she drank something unhealthy, causing the death of the newborns.
Then, Qiaomei ran to the village clinic to have a fight with the doctor, stating that her son was alive only because of her coming to faith. But in the middle of the fight, she suddenly remembered that as a Christian, she should not quarrel with others. So she apologized to the village doctor, saying that she had a bad temper and asking him for forgiveness.
Later, the village doctor said, "I also want to believe in God".
When her son was ten years old, the deacon of the church said to her, "Mei, now that the child is old enough, you should do the Lord's work."
Qiaomei couldn't wait any longer, so she rushed into the church on Wednesday, asking what work she could do. She was merely a village woman who didn't even finish elementary school and had only been a believer for eleven years.
Surprisingly, she was versatile, doing a good job of sweeping the floor, wiping stools, cleaning the toilets, serving tea, washing cups, riding a bicycle to visit the sick, and singing Teochew opera in the elderly choir.
Qiaomei, who has believed in God for 41 years, said that she was very healthy, without high blood sugar, high blood fatness, high blood pressure, heart disease, back pain, or leg pain. So, she could work for God for another 40 years!
- Translated by Shuya Wang