Xiao Wei had a life like many other rural Muslim women. She was pretty and skilled in sewing and embroidery typical of her DongXiang people group. She married and had 2 daughters but then her husband beat her and she had to run back to her family without contact with her girls for more than a decade. She was fortunate to marry an older man years later. She had 2 more daughters and then the long awaited son. This was the only son of the older man so she gained some status in the family. However, life was still difficult. The younger daughter had a form of muscular dystrophy and was bedridden. They moved to the city and Xiao Wei worked many hours selling steamed bread and fresh noodles from a small shop in front of their one room apartment. Money was tight so she was efficient in getting less expensive vegetables and making the most of all she cooked. While she was the favored wife, her husband controlled the finances and she would even have to ask for some tea leaves to serve tea to a guest.
One day, Xiao Wei had a visit by some foreigners. She enjoyed having friends with whom she could talk. These friends sometimes gave basic health advice or helped her get ibuprofen for her aches. They also told her stories from the Bible. Some were similar to stories she heard in earlier years but many were new. Other people began to visit their home. Some brought books and art supplies to the crippled daughter. Others played with her children and provided a DVD of the Jesus film and a player so they could watch. These friends would pray for her and her family.
Many years passed and Xiao Wei and her family returned to their rural hometown. She began to do some sewing and to grow sunflowers and fava beans on a small plot of land. Some of her friends came to visit and helped her from time to time with the farming. Life became more difficult. She broke her leg while trying to harvest sunflowers. Her crippled daughter died of pneumonia a few months later. Her husband was getting older with more and more health problems. One worker continued to visit Xiao Wei and each time helping her with food for the family and continuing to tell her of His love.
After about 10 years of hearing and seeing His love through her many friends, she began to ask more questions. This friend who had continued to visit answered questions. When her husband left for afternoon prayers, Xiao Wei prayed with her friend to become a follower of Jesus.
So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthian 3:7