A young Chinese woman sitting across the table during our orientation session grabbed my attention. She was obviously a church leader, her smile and overall countenance reminded me of my conception of an angel. I felt compelled to speak personally with her at the end of our meeting.
With the assistance of an interpreter, I spoke, “Please forgive me, but I am so curious. Your peaceful smile obviously reflects a relationship with God! Would it be possible for you to share with me about your faith?” Her testimony left me deeply touched and reconfirmed my belief in the personal nature of God.
“My husband and I have only recently become Christians. We grew up in Buddhist families. After we were married, my mother-in-law stressed the need to worship numerous idols, to burn incense, and to go through the daily rituals involved in ancestor worship. Since my husband and I lived with the family and I was the youngest woman, it became my responsibility to complete these daily religious chores. I began to act more and more religious, but the whole routine meant little to me personally.
Then tragedy crashed down on our family. I don’t remember the doctor’s words. I simply recall the sense of nausea, a deep emptiness, and a weakness that engulfed my whole body upon learning that my husband had cancer. The doctor felt it might be treatable if we were able to secure the proper care in Hong Kong, but living in Macau and having limited finances made that very difficult. We began to recall family members we knew who lived in Hong Kong. After having made a list, we telephoned each one of them to see if it would be possible for us to come and live with them for a few months during the time of my husband’s surgery, treatment, and recovery. Every call resulted in disappointment. Our relatives either had no room, other visitors, or some other reason why they could not receive us as their houseguests. Finally, we remembered our distant cousins, Helen and Luke. When we called their home, their response lifted our spirits—“Yes, we would be glad to receive you as our guests during this time.”
Our family warned us that these relatives were Christian, but what were we supposed to do? My husband’s parents worried that if we omitted the ancestor worship and adoration of the house idols, their son wouldn’t be healed. But the Cheung’s seemed to be the only alternative. So we moved in for our extended visit in Luke and Helen’s home. My husband received surgery and extensive chemotherapy, and for the next two months we stayed in the home of Luke and Helen.
The home atmosphere differed considerably. There were no altars to ancestors. The odor of incense never burned in their home. The dependence upon fortune-telling to try to determine the future simply didn’t enter into their minds. Instead, their religion merged every day with life and decisions in a coherent and logical manner. The Cheung’s faith affected their attitudes and their ethics. Gradually, Luke and Helen began to ask if we would like to share in their time of Bible study together. Gently, they began to pray with us. They offered to pray for the healing of my husband, and somehow we noticed a vitality and faith we had never seen before. More important than the verbalization of their faith was the love they showed to us each day that we spent in their home. They understood our pain and sympathized with our anxiety. They shared in the responsibility of caring that resulted from our suffering. We began to feel closer to them than to our own family. Throughout the entire illness, they suggested that not only was the medical treatment we were receiving important but that we needed to place our trust in the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. The treatment of my husband was totally successful, and now the doctors can find no traces of cancer. Since that time, we’ve returned to our home, but our memories of Luke and Helen’s hospitality, their love, their concern, and their deep faith have not left our minds. Several months after we returned to Macau, we began to attend the Christian church and made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of our lives.
We’ve learned many things we didn’t know before that time. We now know that the Bible does witness that Jesus healed people of every disease and sickness (Matthew 9:35). We have captured the impact of the love chapter of the Bible (1 Corinthians 13). We understand by reading Hebrews 11 that faith is an imperative part of the Christian faith. And we’ve come to understand the importance of the gift of the Holy Spirit in each believer’s life. Our church has taught us that evangelism is a Christian responsibility. We realize as we reflect about our experience in accepting the Lord Jesus Christ, that it was through one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit—the gift of hospitality (Romans 12:13) —that Luke and Helen could most effectively evangelize us and help us to see the validity of Christianity. We praise God for his wonderful grace. We are beginning to pray and ask that he will show us the gift he has given to us so that we can use it to lead others to him.”