The other day, I felt more than I ever have before the longing for another to see the truth of the Gospel. A Chinese friend and I had just studied the Word and talked for a while about what we’d read, and I had tried as well as I knew how to explain the Gospel’s eternal importance. As far as I could tell, though, she had gone home with the same skewed views of Truth, of good and evil, right and wrong, that she’s had for the time I’ve known her. I felt helpless…But God reminded me, yet again, that though He allows me to take part in sharing His Story with others, He is the one who ultimately saves souls. I cannot depend on myself to do what only He can do.
This in turn reminded me of a worker friend of mine who learns more every day how dependent on Him she has to be. She isn’t Chinese, but she has a Chinese roommate. Though her roommate is a believer, the fact that they’re from two completely different cultures presents challenges my friend hadn’t faced before:
The first time I woke up at 5:30 to a resounding “Zǎoshang hǎo!”, I felt like I’d been hit in the face with a bat…I went through Culture-Shock, the Sequel. A once clean, quiet, and organized house quickly turned into a messy, loud and cluttered one…I used to leave China outside my door and walk into what I then saw as my refuge. This is a sin. Your home shouldn’t be your refuge; Christ should be.
These are just surface level challenges. Since those first few days, they’ve gone far beyond that. My friend’s struggle to comfort her roommate after explaining in broken Chinese that, “if the Bible were true, her [roommate’s] dad, who had never heard the Gospel before he died, had no chance of repentance,” was a huge reminder of our own weaknesses:
I wanted to tell her that this was a terrible product of wicked sin but that one day our sweet savior Jesus was going to come and wipe the bitter tears off of her face, and she was never going to have to feel this devastation again once He returned. I wanted to tell her so much. However, I was stuck fumbling through my broken Chinese, crying and holding her. After a few extra minutes, a few looks at the dictionary and a lot of patience on her part, by the Spirit, [she was comforted]…but I can’t describe how hard it was for me, someone who is heavily dependent on my verbal eloquence in my first language, to sit there in my second language and know that I couldn’t say all that I wanted to say.
However, the language barrier has proven one thing loud and clear. The Word of God is enough. Sometimes, when we are talking, I just flip to certain pages and point to the verses. She has made major life decisions based on the Word alone. It has been sweet to see how unnecessary I really am as I watch the spirit of God use His own Word to minister to His own child.
Just as I can’t depend solely on my explanatory ability to change my Chinese friend’s heart, and my worker friend can’t depend solely on her language skills to help her roommate better understand the Gospel, we can’t depend on ourselves alone to reach the nations with His Word. We get to work for Him, yes, but He’s already decreed that all nations will hear, so even if I don’t extrapolate the Gospel message with perfect eloquence (ha!), that doesn’t mean I will have messed up His plan. We don’t have to worry about our inadequacy in sharing the Gospel and leading others, because He is perfectly adequate and works through our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 4).
Pray that as I, my friend, and fellow workers in our city interact with our Chinese friends and neighbors, Han or Hui, we’ll submit ourselves to God’s authority and remember His sovereignty, that He alone knows every human heart (1 Kings 8:39), and He alone saves and sanctifies (2 Corinthians 3:18).