Before I came to China, I imagined living in the middle of a Hui village and being totally immersed in their culture each and every day so that sharing the Gospel would be a natural part of everyday life. Instead, our family moved to a mega city where there are about 500,000 Hui – and that number is only a small fraction of the 22 million people living in the city. I realized that the initial part of my task was not going to be building relationships and sharing the Gospel with Hui but actually finding a Hui person with whom I could build a relationship and share the Gospel! And with two young children, a family to care for, a crazy hard language to learn, groceries to buy every day and only my two legs or public transportation to take me places…it was like finding a needle in a haystack! As a fresh and eager new worker, this was discouraging to say the least.
I started asking that God would lead me to Hui people in my everyday activities and that He would open my eyes to the opportunities I did have to share with the Hui. I began asking our prayer supporters to pray that Hui people would materialize around me. Despite these efforts, the village of Hui people did not suddenly appear in my apartment complex. This was disappointing!
But, while my dream didn’t materialize, my prayers never ceased. I knew that God had called us to this specific place and to this specific people. By praying for the Hui every day, my love for this Muslim people increased daily, as did my desire to share the Truth of Jesus with them.
I will never forget the day I first saw them – a Hui family in our apartment complex! It was only a glimpse before the elevator door shut, and I was frozen in shock! When I thawed out, I literally danced into our apartment singing praises at the top of my lungs. Just when we needed some encouragement, God had answered our prayers. We were then on a mission – to talk to and befriend this family! It took a few more weeks of only sightings here and there, but finally we all wound up in the elevator together and were able to start some conversations.
After that, little by little, we began having more “Hui sightings” – someone at the grocery store, a couple on an electric bike beside me at a red light, a family at my son’s preschool, a noodle shop employee.
But we still hadn’t developed relationships with Hui people as we had been praying for. So we continued praying and asking for God’s intervention. We knew this wasn’t going to happen unless He worked on our behalf. Then one day, out of the blue, I found out that a fellow teacher I’m friends with at my school is a Hui lady. How did I go almost a year without knowing this information, you might ask? Well, she looks and acts just like every other Chinese person – but in the cafeteria, she passed by a pork dish, and when asked why, she simply stated it’s because she is Hui.
Our family regularly frequents Hui noodle shops, but for a while, we hadn’t been able to develop anything beyond superficial relationships…Until we went to one of our usual noodle shops, which had just come under new ownership, and the the new owners, a Hui family, welcomed us like we were long-lost friends!
I’m wiping away tears as I write this. I’m amazed at how God has moved in our lives and work! We were only obedient in what He asked us to do: to pray for the Hui, to search for the Hui, and to love the Hui. And somehow in His wisdom, God has allowed our family to develop these sweet relationships with Hui friends.
Pray with us that workers’ lives will be completely dependent on Him. Pray that all believers will realize He leads, and we simply have to follow.