A New Sister
Hannah* began coming to Sunday worship about a year ago. Because she is bright, outgoing and speaks good English, she was quick to make many friends at our church. She enjoyed us and we enjoyed her.
Hannah also came occasionally to the Tuesday evening Bible study, but she was never very regular because she was usually working overtime in order to meet her sales quota. Even still, she was an eager student when she came and truly appreciated what she was learning of God and His Word.
Sometime around March of this year we asked Hannah to share a five-minute testimony about her spiritual journey. She told us that she was really changing. She couldn’t call herself a Christian because she knew the cost of following Christ and wasn’t prepared to pay the price. But she knew that her time spent with Christians and the study of God’s Word had made significant changes in her heart and mind.
After that, we saw a lot less of Hannah. She had come to the threshold of the Kingdom. Now she had to either enter in or turn away. She chose to turn away and we didn’t see much of her for several months. Then we got the news that she was moving back to Beijing in September….
Just before returning to China, she moved in briefly with her friend Caroline who lives very near our church. They both knew I like to swim so they invited me to swim with them at Caroline’s pool.
By the time I accepted the invitation, Caroline had flown to China for an unexpected visit. So it was just Hannah and I at the pool together on Monday of her last week in Southeast Asia. We talked meaningfully, but no spiritual breakthrough occurred.
My husband Ridge had held high expectations of our time together and was clearly disappointed when I told him, that though I had prayed for Hannah, I didn’t challenge her further to “enter in at the narrow gate.” He was quiet and let me turn to some important reading. But only a few minutes later he interrupted me to urge me AGAIN to pursue Hannah and challenge her to make a commitment. I couldn’t understand why Ridge was pushing me about Hannah and reminded him rather heatedly that God is the one who convicts and converts! Ridge agreed, but still thought I should try one more time…!
Three days later at 12:30 at night I got a text message from Hannah saying she was afraid that God was punishing her because so many things were going wrong in her life and she knew they weren’t coincidences. I called her and found out that, among other things, she had lost her wallet that day on the bus. She said one of the things scaring her was that she wasn’t reacting to these difficulties in her usual fashion. Normally, she would be in an uproar over any one of these things – angry, worried, and consumed with her troubles, she would make herself and everyone around her miserable.
But now a string of unhappy circumstances had left her with a strange peace in her heart and a mind full of the knowledge that all these things were not important. Nothing in her lost wallet or delayed luggage could compare with her inner treasures and personal relationships. She said she couldn’t recognize herself anymore and that was frightening.
I responded by saying simply, “God has changed you.” At that, Hannah began to weep softly and give me further testimony of the many changes she has seen in herself. Her fear changed to gratitude as she awoke to the great gift she had been receiving from God’s hand these many months. She began to freely praise and thank Him.
Toward the end of the conversation I pointed out that God was certainly calling Hannah to Himself and it was time for her to respond. When I asked Hannah if she was willing to pray, she readily agreed. After I prayed for Hannah, she prayed her own prayer, acknowledging who God was and surrendering herself to Him.
Ridge was still awake when I hung up the phone that night. Although it was very dark in the room, I could still see the “I told you so” smile on his face!
That Sunday Hannah was in the 9 a.m. service. When Ridge walked by her passing the grape juice for Communion, Hannah leaned over and whispered to him, “Can I participate now that I’m a believer?” How our hearts sing at the sound of those words!
At the 11 o’clock Chinese Ministry gathering, Hannah told her story to the group and then went to lunch with a happy band of “brothers and sisters” who had prayed much to see this day. Later that same day we said goodbye to Hannah at the airport (she was moving to China) and remarked to each other how she glowed like a beaming new bride. Please join us in praise and prayer for this beautiful new member of the family.
*Name has been changed.