From the experience of being an unwanted child through dropping out of school to becoming a shepherd girl in China to being on the brink of inability to complete her international education in the USA this year, one thing is evident throughout Jun’s amazing life story: there is no stopping God from accomplishing His ordained purposes in a person’s life! Buckle your seat belt as you hear from the horse’s own mouth.
At the Lausanne Younger Leaders in Indonesia (August 2016) with Jun and other mentees in our ‘connect group’
When I was young, only my mother was a believer. She is a strong and godly Christian, and she has had a huge influence on me! When I was a child she always brought me to church on Sundays, so I heard about a lot of Bible stories, such as ‘God created everything including human beings, God still loved them after their fall; Jesus is the son of God, He died on the cross to save fallen people,’ etc. Although I heard these touching stories, I didn’t really believe that Jesus was God and loving. I did not think that Jesus was relevant to my life because I had an extremely difficult childhood and our family had faced hardship for many years.
By “a difficult childhood,” I am saying that I was an unwanted child and that carried negative consequences. First, government officials tried to kill me. One of our neighbors reported my family to the Family Planning department that my mom was pregnant with her second child. Under the China’s one child policy the government forbid its citizens to have a second child. To enforce this, they rewarded individuals who reported this illegal activity. family planning agents came to my home to investigate. They interrogated my mother briefly and left. They did not believe the neighbor’s word. My mother later explained that one of the reasons was that I was really small and her pregnancy was not noticeable. It also helped that it was in December and my mother was wearing a thick coat. But our neighbor insisted, went to the family planning department a second time and claimed that my mom was about to give birth. A week later the government officials returned to my home with the intention of forcing my mom to have an abortion. Mere days before their arrival, however, I had already been born!
Although I managed to survive birth, there was a second obstacle. The government persecuted my family severely for having multiple children. Government agents would annually visit our home and confiscate our possessions. The worst is when they took our grain. Being farmers, grain was everything to us. They knew that taking our grain would make us miserable. I have many memories of not having enough food to eat. As an unsanctioned birth, the government did not recognize me as a Chinese citizen until I was 12 years old. On top of the government not wanting me, my father also did not want me. He was greatly disappointed when I was born. He already had a daughter and longed for a son.
In this unfortunate family situation, I had to drop out of school in the 8th grade because my parents could not afford my tuition. I had to work in the field and become a shepherd girl. I had been a straight A student up to this point, but I could not continue my education. Other students who had not applied themselves in their studies, however, were able to continue their education and go on to university. I felt that life was so unfair. I questioned: “why does life have to be so hard for me?” I had a lot of self-pity, self-deprecation and anger in my heart. I thought I was not supposed to live, that I was not wanted, that I had no place in the world. In fact, the world would have been a better place without me. I could not understand why the Bible says that God loves me while in reality, all I experienced was rejection and hardship.
Looking at our family’s unfortunate situation, many unbelievers questioned, “Why did their God not save them? Perhaps they are not pleasing to their God or maybe their God is unable to save them.” Many Christians assumed: “They must have sinned,” or “they must be under a generational curse.” All these sayings made me confused about God and about His attributes. “Why do we suffer while the wicked prosper?” These comments and questions haunted me, making it difficult to believe that Jesus really loved me. From this I concluded that “God must not love us.” I felt ashamed of being called a Christian. At the same time, I was learning concepts that were different or contrary to the Christian ideas that my mom was teaching me. Evolution was a popular one. Meanwhile, many concepts I learned at school (such as evolution) were different or even contrary to what I had been taught by my mother from the Christian viewpoint. I eventually decided that I would not to go to church anymore, but would only pretend that I believed in God in front of other Christians. It was clear that I didn’t acknowledge Jesus as Christ and that my faith was merely a matter of appearance.
However, God’s love is amazing and eternal! Having loved me, He now showed me the full extent of His love. He never abandoned me. I had been so confused about the love of Jesus and the question concerning why I needed Jesus. Deep in my heart I believed a silly lie. I had thought that since my mother was a godly Christian and a church leader, she would take me to heaven or she would talk to Jesus to let me in. On a common holiday during middle school, while I was yet far away from Jesus, I remember going to church one day with my mother out of obedience to her. During the service, I heard a sermon from a circuit preacher about God’s sacrificial love, sin, the cross, and the necessity of each individual having their own relationship with Jesus. Although I had heard about this kind of sermon millions of times, I never thought that this message could ever apply to me. However, this time I started to understand that the difficult situation I had gone through was not God’s intention or plan. God’s intention was to bless me and not to curse me. Jesus is the source of life and blessing, but I was separated from Him because of sin. I was very moved when I was listening to the sermon, because I realized for the first time that Jesus really died for me and that He died to bear my sins. He loved me so much that He died for me so that I could live. He suffered so that my sins would be forgiven. My relationship with God is restored through His sacrificial death. Jesus came to earth to empathize with me. He walked where I walk and He felt what I feel. The most important thing is that because Jesus is God, He is mighty to save me from my sins. He can help and He is willing to help me in the difficult situations of my life. Despite all those years I had been against Him and misunderstood His love, Jesus did not give up on me. Then I burst into tears thanking Him for His unfailing love, confessing my sins and inviting Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. At the same time, I also realized that no matter how much my mother loved me, she could not save me, only a personal relationship with God could do that.
That was such a wonderful experience I will never forget it! On that day my heart was softened by the love of Jesus and comforted by his touch. As I understood God’s love for me in this dark and sinful world, and I can see that He will redeem every bad experience toward my good. As such, I’m loved, not cursed! For the first time in my life I did not regard being a Christian as shameful, but regarded God as my glory. I recognized that when the world did not welcome my birth and did not want me, but God anticipated my birth and His sovereign hands have been protecting me. I have become more positive as I acknowledged the love of Christ for me; I am capable of loving myself and therefore others. It is because He accepts me that I am able to accept myself and therefore other people. Jesus Christ did not only save my life, but also beautified my character and personality. Thank God for His salvation and redemption forever! I’m so blessed to have Jesus as my Savior and Lord!
God loves me so much that my heart was drawn to Him, but I must not selfishly enjoy all the blessing myself alone. I know that only those who share the love of Christ and preach the gospel are the people who manifest a true love for Jesus. I once heard a pastor say, “The destiny of a nation is held in two persons’ hands; one is a pastor, and the other is a businessman.” Only the word of God can truly change a country. Pastors are called to share the gospel and explain the way of salvation, businessmen have the finances which pastors need in order to carry out God’s ministry. I was not called to be a businessman, but I have a clear calling from God to pastor His people and proclaim His gospel.
My first ministry experience was in a rural setting, since that was my hometown. (This was during the time when I had to drop out of school [I’d like to insert a short story here: After I got saved, I started to really pray and inquire of God. I had to drop out of school because of my family’s situation. But because I became a child of God, I prayed to the Lord saying: “God, my parents cannot afford to send me to school, but you are my Heavenly Father, you own everything, and money is not a problem for you. Could you please open a door for me to continue my education?” I prayed to God, and requested that I wanted to go to university and I wanted to study English. After two years’ prayer, God answered me by offering me a wonderful opportunity to study under the tutorship of a South African missionary. She taught me English for free for one and half years.]). During the two years of working in the field and being a shepherd girl while waiting for my prayers to be answered, I started to follow God’s calling to be His servant. I participated in evangelism and pastoral ministry. During this time, the rural churches experienced a great revival. It was just like the early church age described in the book of Acts (Acts 2:42-47).
At the same time, there were changes in some of China’s policies causing thousands of country people to surge into the big cities. Over twenty years ago, God through visions revealed to the leaders of the rural house churches that there would be a large field of harvest in the cities. Rural house church leaders were obedient and began to focus their efforts on planting churches in the cities. Concurrently, we continued to consolidate the countryside churches. I was part of this massive urban church planting movement. And in 2004 I moved my residence to Beijing and began serving in the house churches.
There was tremendous challenge and pain during this transition period. The people from the countryside were not adequately trained to effectively execute this strategy. Some of the pastors or leaders did not even finish their elementary school. The cities are full of well-educated and experienced people. As a co-worker in this movement, I experienced firsthand the huge gap between the people whom I was ministering to and myself. The majority of whom were well-educated and well-informed. My training did not prepare me. I did not receive higher education and I was not as informed as those I was ministering to. I realized that I needed to raise my knowledge level both socially and theologically in order to relate effectively to city-dwellers. I began a study program on my own. After five plus years of hard work, God blessed me with my first degree from Beijing Foreign Language University. At the same time, I received bible training in bits and pieces, here and there.
During this time, I recognized that this ad hoc training was not sufficient. I needed seminary level training to become competent in the ministry that God gave me. Thank God that in 2013 He opened the door for me to study at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS). By the sustaining grace of God, I finished my M.Div. program in the summer of 2016, and now I am working on a Th.M program, which is the minimum degree that prepares me to do theological education when I go back to my country. I will graduate by the end of December 2017. Praise God for His salvation, His calling and His guidance in my life, His provision and sustaining grace during these years at GCTS! Glory and thanks be to God forever!
- See pages 8 and 9 of this Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary publication for more.
- To participate in Jun’s mission to catalyze and strengthen the underground church, click here.