Monday, January 10, 2011

A boy named Su

Okay, he hasn't been a boy for maybe 50 years or so. I don't know exactly how old he is, but I first met Su in June of last year. My church takes dinner now and then to a place similar to the R*nald McDonald House here in our city. This is a charity organization that supplies a free place to live for people with critical illnesses that require long-term, in-patient treatment.

That night, we served the food, and then spread out to sit and get to talk with the patients and their families. Most are out-of-towners, in a hospital in a strange town, with no friends to speak of as they go through this hard time. I sat at the table with Su and his wife, Eejie, along with two other people from my church and a younger Korean lady. Su and Eejie are originally from Shanghai,China, but have lived in New York for quite some time. Su has terminal liver cancer. We learned that the couple was Buddhist, though I suspected it was more cultural than faith-based. During our time together, we shared our hope for eternal life through Jesus' death on the cross. Eejie had many questions as we shared the gospel and we answered them to the best of our ability. The Korean lady at our table was critically ill herself, but a believer! She was able to speak of her peace and joy, even through great pain and hardship. Eejie was very inquisitive, but there was a barrier of unbelief there. We could only pray that a seed would take root in her heart. We were able to pray with Eejie for both her and her husband, whom had been told he had maybe two weeks to live.

Fast forward to early November. We are back at the hospital, me leading a small group of women this time. There are only 8 of us, and I can only pray that God will show up in a big way because I'm not even sure that we will have enough food to go around. I prayed a LOT that day, just that God would show up and bless our time there. We serve the food (just enough!) and I send the girls out to sit among the patients and their families. I have seen during the times that we have gone, that as much as they appreciate the different churches and organizations bringing food to them (and they truly are SO thankful), that what really blesses them is having someone take the time to sit down and talk to them: to laugh, and just have a time of fellowship. They need to be loved on and to have someone care about what they are going through!

The last table without one of our girls was an older Asian couple. I asked if I could sit down, and they said "Sure". It took me about thirty seconds to realize that it was Eejie and Su!! He was still alive and kicking! They remembered me and we ate together, making small talk. Su eventually excused himself and went up to his room. Eejie stayed, and again I got the opportunity to share Jesus with her. Another girl from my church, Tina, joined us and we just continued to talk about how good God is and how Jesus is the only way to the Father; the only One who rose from the dead, showing power over death and therefore proving that He could deliver US from death as well! Eejie asked many questions, and we got to share how God had changed us and how we saw Him moving in us and those around us. It was a good time and a good talk. We prayed with her, for her husband, and I was so, so grateful for one, the fact that Su was still alive, and two, that we got another chance to tell them about salvation through Christ! I asked Eejie if I could have her phone number, and maybe we could go get coffee sometime. I told her I would call her soon. I thought it would be nice to get her out of that place for a little fresh air.

My friend Hannah has such an amazing heart for lost people, and she jumped on the chance to come pick up Eejie with me. We went to a little local coffee place, and then walked around some of the gorgeous neighborhood of Church Hill. We talked about many things, but although we did mention the Lord in regard to our lives, I didn't want to "push" Jesus on her as hard as I had been the two previous times. Hannah had other ideas, and we had an hour long conversation on the corner. Eejie had many more questions, but she didn't tire of talking about "the Jesus". She sincerely wanted to know if we had truly been changed by God. She recognized that sometimes she had negative emotions and reactions that she had absolutely no control over, and she didn't like that. We said that, yes, Jesus could really change her, and though even as Christians we still get upset, we lean on Christ and continually repent of our bad thoughts, habits, and behaviors. We grow more like Him and the sin nature is lessened. She was interested, and she even thumbed through Hannah's Bible. She was amazed that we read it so much.

Hannah and I both just loved this spunky little Chinese lady, and prayed for her and her husband often. The next time we went back to see her, Hannah brought her gifts: a Mandarin Bible and a book called "We would see Jesus", also in Eejie's heart language! We stayed at the hospital this time and went through the book of John, and also Phillipians with her, trying to continue to answer questions as they came up through the words in the Scripture. It was awesome! We told her to read it to Su every day, and she said she would.

The next week when we went back to visit, taking our Malaysian brother Julian. Eejie was quoting the Bible to us, saying "It says if there are two or three gathered, He will be here! Is He here right now?" What a joy it was to see her so engaged and captivated by the words in the Bible! We settled in to study John 9, and she really listened, taking it all in and again, asking truly relevant and insightful questions. She understood! Julian was able to translate deeper meanings in Mandarin, and I think that was very helpful. Hannah asked her what was keeping her from believing that Jesus was the true God, and she said "Not yet, I need to learn more", because the Bible is big and she has only read bits and pieces. I told her that in the five years I've been a Christian, I still don't know it all! What is important is believing that Christ's death was sufficient payment for our sins, and then turning from our own ways as we love God and seek to serve Him with our lives. The rest you have a lifetime to learn! She was still noncommittal, which was disappointing, because for some reason I had a feeling that TODAY was when she would be saved. Julian prayed as our time drew to a close, and when he was done, we sat up straight, and then Eejie said "I say couple words." She bowed her head and said " God, thank you for these friends. Please save my soul and forgive for ..(Chinese word, Julian translates "sins"). Please help Su. Amen." Hannah and I looked up at each other with tears in our eyes, and as soon as we got into the bathroom we exclaimed "Did she just say the sinners' prayer?? On her own? Unprompted?" She had. As crazy as it was, as little as she knew, she asked Jesus to save her and He says when you believe in Him and ask Him to save you , He will! I know that we gained a new sister that day!

We went to a Christmas party later that week at the hospital thrown by another church. We got to eat with both Eejie and Su, and at one point Su told us that we were "God's messengers". I knew that Eejie had been faithfully reading the Bible to Su each day, but he was still a Buddhist, and even told me that night that his mother had been a very sincere Buddhist, and was very nice and kind to people, and "is it not the same as Christian"? I told him gently that though there are definitely good moral aspects to different religions, because Jesus proved He was God, and says there is no other way, than Buddhism could not be true. He nodded and looked thoughtful. Before we left, we made plans to go to the Chinese church on the coming Sunday morning. Both Eejie and Su agreed to come.

Hannah and I didn't understand anything(other than the English phrases "Jack-in-the-box" and what sounded like "strategic meetings") because the whole service was Mandarin. It was a Christmas message, and Su listened intently while Eejie fidgeted. The pastor at Chinese church was very kind and got their contact information, offering to pick them up for Bible Study on Friday nights. As we drove to lunch afterwards, we were talking about their departure from Richmond at the end of the year, and how much we would miss them. They planned to go back to New York, and then to Shanghai for a couple weeks before returning to Virginia. Su told us from the back seat that he would never forget "Angel and Haynah" because now he is not afraid to die and he has God in his heart. WHAT? Hannah and I looked at each other, again with tears in our eyes. Had God been so gracious as to allow us to see both of them saved?

We dropped them off, and I promised to come back to the hospital that night for yet another Christmas party (those people eat like kings, I tell you!). I was tired, but I wanted to make SURE that Su understood the gospel. After sharing with him one last time, and hearing his responses (knowing that Jesus has to be first in our lives! That Holy Spirit has been so busy!)I believe that he does. Hallelujah is the only phrase that fits!

God had answered my prayers to see conversions like they did in the early church, where the message of Christ changes lives and hearts! I have dealt so long with witnessing to cultural Christians, who don't understand what following Christ looks like, and may come to church once in a while but see no need to let Him actually be Lord in their lives. The power of the Word of God pulling this beautiful couple from death into everlasting life has rocked my world, and I have a feeling I am going to be a bit of an evangelism junkie from now on. It is beautiful to live like Christ, but what saves people is knowing that without Him they will be in Hell, and through His death He has made a way for us to be right before God. Jesus saves! Praise God He let me see that when He moves, big things happen!

Be encouraged as you share with your friends and family! He is able to soften even the hardest heart! Keep praying and keep loving and keep speaking truth! He is able!


Fijufic said...

Welcome back Angela....


Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

You really are such a beautiful soul...because Jesus is all over you. What a beautiful story, Angela. I can almost see the joy in their eyes!

BTW, your blog description on the top...made me laugh out loud. That's awesome.

Great to see you again!

Kathy S. said...

Wow!!! What a delightful, heart-dancing story! I'm smiling big! (with a few tears!) What an honor for you!

Love to you!

Jennifer said...

Angela, I am so excited about what God is doing in your life. I totally agree that we should keep each other accountable for seeking Him above all. Like you said, just for who He is!!