By Echo Chow
I received my first Holy Bible when I was traveling alone in Jerusalem.
One afternoon in a restaurant, a middle-aged man came and asked about my nationality. After leaving for a while, he then returned and passed to me a Chinese Bible.
“Thanks for the gift,” I said politely with no intention to read it for the rest of my life. “Not from me but a gift from above,” he pointed at the sky and disappeared in the crowd.
What an odd reply to a non-Christian like me at that time! Only after nine years that I realized the true meaning of the word “gift”.
When I got back in China, the design of a book called “Desert in the Streams” caught my eyes in a bookshop. I opened it and could not stop reading. I wondered why I can see religious books in China. I was so curious and phoned my Christian friend in Hong Kong, just to make sure that it was not heresy.
Later, another friend gave me a book entitled “The Purpose Driven Life”. Again, I finished it with keen interest. One day, an idea emerged that what I had been reading was “second hand” information on Christianity. Why not try to experience the original version?
Yes, in between those years, I received six Bibles in different versions from different people.
The year 2008 was the turning point. On Christmas Eve, I shared my sleeping problems with my friend since childhood. Among the many strange dreams I had, the one about the struggle between “good” and “evil” scared me most. “Go home and read the Bible. Only Jesus Christ can save you,” she concluded.
That night before bedtime, I was reading Romans 7:22-25 “I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
These verses shocked me completely! It seems that the author from a thousand years ago understands me better than myself. I could not figure out why, but I felt a very deep fear in me. I could do nothing but pray for the first time accepting Jesus as my Savior.
There is no fear in love
Suddenly, the fear is gone. I felt like a baby sleeping in a cradle with someone comforting me. My hands were getting warm, and my heart was at ease. “It’s just an illusion.” I thought with disbelief. It was an instrumental prayer. I used Jesus Christ and denied him after that.
Two weeks later, I visited a museum in Singapore. Inside the museum was a church. Touring around alone, I felt a drop of cold water dripping on my left hand. I saw nothing on my hand but above my head was a huge painting of Jesus and his disciples. At the bottom of the painting was a sentence like “This wine is my blood”. And I was just standing beneath the cup the disciple was holding.
Water … wine… blood…
I asked myself whether it was just an illusion again. But it would do me no harm to confess and follow Jesus. Why not have a try? The church people were happy to meet me. Yet I needed to answer them a few questions before attending classes.
“What is sin?” they asked. “Motivation,” an English word suddenly flashed into my mind. “It’s not just action and motivation matters, right?” I replied.
“Why do you trust the Bible?” They asked again. “Consistency,” another English word appeared in my mind, again. “I guess the book was written by many people living years apart, right? And the message is consistent even though some of these writers might not know each other,” I said.
With limited knowledge about the Bible, I could not understand why what came to my mind was English but not my mother tongue which is Chinese. At that time, I could not even distinguish the Old and New Testament and misunderstood that the Bible had a “printing mistake”, for it repeated the story of Jesus Christ for four times!
That is not important, though. What matters most is that I have started a journey of love, faith and hope. There are always ups and downs in life, but I know with Jesus in the boat I can smile amidst the storm as we go sailing home.
Power is perfected in weakness
My journey seems to be pre-destined long time ago yet heading to somewhere to my surprise though I have never been a well-planned person.
It is natural that most people would like to use their strength to perform and achieve. The more confident we are, the more we will succeed. In my entire study and career life so far, I see the Lord has been protecting me from my weaknesses and strengthening me in areas I was never even aware of.
At university, my major was Communications but I scored highest in Philosophy and Religion. My news sense was not sharp but I was elected the chief editor of the school newspaper simply because I could communicate better with the Taiwanese professor who supervised us on this project. When I was still puzzling what to do after graduation, I was offered a job in a renowned international news magazine as a staff writer per recommendation by the professor.
That was how I jumped into the media field, in spite of the fact that I had very little understanding of international affairs.
The job came with immense pressure. I found myself totally inadequate to write in-depth analysis on topics like regional conflicts or economic crisis. I drank six cups of coffee a day to keep myself awoke, and slept only three hours a night.
We can make our plans, but …
Such hard times continued six months until I resigned because I wanted to gain more front-line experience as a local news journalist. Out of my expectations, though, the newspaper I just joined shifted its editorial policy to intentionally nurture journalists with global perspectives. I became one of the potentials, perhaps due to my previous background.
A golden opportunity arrived when I was 26. I was offered a post stationed in the US for two years as a correspondent. That was my dream for a long time! But my mom opposed so strongly that I gave it up. Several months later, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and she died two years later.
Lesson learnt – when the world values personal achievements and prestige, the Lord tells us that staying with our loved ones is more valuable than anything else. And He loves me so much that even though I didn’t know Him at that time.
Frankly speaking, I was very nervous during those days. My English and common sense were far from satisfactory, but the job required me to deal with many unfamiliar technical topics from missile tests to human cloning, as well as natural disasters and international development conferences. All these not only widened my perspectives significantly, but paved the way for my future career in the NGO sector.
Now I am working in an international non-governmental organization (NGO) operating in China, a place beyond my plan. I am not sure why and how long I will be here. But I know I am in God’s hands, for “we can make our plans , but the Lord determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Echo is a graduate of Intercultural Studies and Public History and is now a communicator in an organization based in Hong Kong pursuing poverty alleviation. She loves traveling but often gets lost even in her own hometown. She is a curious life adventurer keen on learning new things and meeting people.