Though born and raised in China, I was blessed to grow up in a Christian household. My mom took me to church regularly from a young age. I didn’t understand the gospel, but I enjoyed church for the juice and cookies in Sunday School.
As I came into my teenage years, I stopped going to church. Most of the people at our church were much older than me and I thought it was boring. I got a series of jobs that required me to work on Sundays and didn’t go to church for many years.
One day a foreigner named Austin came into my stationery store. He was a teacher and occasionally came by the store for supplies. I had never spoken to a foreigner before, but thinking that all Americans must be Christians, one day I showed him some bookmarks with Chinese Bible verses on them. He asked me if I was a Christian, and I said I wasn’t sure. So when he found out I hadn’t been attending church, he asked me to come with him.
Over the next couple of months I started to getting back into church and Bible studies regularly. At about that time, I began struggling with some issues in my family. The Lord used those struggles to drive me to my knees in prayer and completely trust Him. Since then I have a desire for God’s Word that I never had before. I desire to grow daily in my relationship with Him.
I grew up attending church regularly and heard the gospel proclaimed on a consistent basis. At around eight years old I began to realize my sinfulness and need for a Savior. I responded to an invitation to receive Christ at a VBS service, though in hindsight there was no true saving faith in my life as a result. My heart was akin to the first kind of soil Christ describes in His parable of the sower – His word was snatched away before given time to take root.
It was not until a few years later that I came to realize that true saving faith is accompanied by the fruit of a changed life. After hearing a pastor’s clear explanation of repentance, I came to understand I had not yet done so. That evening I called upon the Lord, and committed to submit my life to Him.
And the Lord gave me new life indeed. Those commands of His which I once despised to obey – telling the truth, obeying one’s parents, loving Him with all of one’s heart, mind, soul, and strength – I suddenly found a joy to obey. Through His cross and resurrection, He has made me new and is making me more and more like Himself everyday. I am now His servant, living to honor Him and bring glory to His name.
Some of you know that I have already spent five years living in China. Below is the story of how the Lord got me there and how (and why) He brought me back to the U.S. to eventually send me back again.
Since I took my first short-term trip to China in 2007, I felt the Lord leading me to serve Him as a missionary in China. The opportunity finally came in the Fall of 2010 when the Lord opened the door for me to teach English in China. I always wanted to preach and pastor in China, but the only direction other missionaries were giving me at the time was to go to China as an English teacher. I reasoned that I could go as an English teacher for the first few years until I could speak the language and then figure out how to get into full-time ministry from there. I arrived in Longyan, Fujian, China in December 2010 and began teaching English in that city. Unfortunately, I did not go to church that first year because the national pastors at the local church were unsure of letting a foreigner attend. After my first year, I asked the pastors again and they agreed to letting me come to church. I had already begun studying the language, but church attendance really helped my Mandarin progress. I learned Chinese hymns and was under the preaching and teaching of national pastors. After about three years in the country, I met Anny Grace, who started attending church with me. Shortly after she was saved, we began to discuss engagement and marriage. At the same time, a national pastor began allowing me to occasionally lead a college and career small group as well as gave me a couple of opportunities to preach in a Bible study setting. In April of 2015, Anny Grace and I got married. By May of that year I was already trying to find ways to more involve myself in ministry in China. The national pastors were still unwilling to let me preach in main church services due to me being a foreigner and my job as an English teacher was restricting my time and took away from other ministry opportunities. Through much prayer, I decided to reach out to the Project China team. I had discovered and been reading their blogs for about a year and really admired all that they were accomplishing for the Lord in another region of China. After reaching out to the team online, one of the missionaries called me and told me about the Our Generation Training Center, a training center for missionaries located in Alpharetta, Georgia, out of Vision Baptist Church. Realizing that this would be the ideal opportunity for us to get the training we needed to do full-time ministry in China, we secured American residency for Anny Grace and arrived in the United States in December of 2015. Here I have been able to receive invaluable training on how to do cross-cultural missions and church planting full-time. Anny Grace and I are now on deputation to raise the support we need to go back to the field in China. We look forward to getting back and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost souls of that great country.