Identity in Christ
By OMF workers in Taiwan
Hoe-Un watched the smiling faces of the people listening to the evangelist preaching on stage. They seemed so happy. The longer she watched, the heavier her heart grew. How she longed to be happy! She had been miserable for so many years. Tears began to flow. Her husband’s voice interrupted her thoughts. He took her hand and led her away from the meeting.
“You don’t need to listen to that. I’ll take care of you,” he said in soothing tones. Though his words were comforting, she knew in her heart that he could not make her happy.
Hoe-Un’s dark world revolved around alcohol, drugs and idol worship. Her drinking resulted in conflicts with her husband and family and deepened her sense of worthlessness. She became trapped in depression’s emotional quagmire. She scolded her mother for bringing her into the world. Thoughts of ending her life often filled her imagination. She spent her days in drugged sleep to escape her despair.
The shop where Hoe-Un works is located in a busy tourist town. One day a lady came into her store to look around. She was very friendly and talked to Hoe-Un. To Hoe-Un’s surprise she asked if she could pray for her. Hoe-Un did not know about prayer or who this God was the lady was praying to, but she was touched by the love this lady showed her and began to weep. The lady was a Christian and left some Christian music for Hoe-Un to listen to. Hoe-Un wanted to find out more about this Christian God.
Some time later, a group of Jehovah’s Witness missionaries came into her store. They too were very kind and showed concern for Hoe-Un. They passed out pamphlets and invited Hoe-Un to attend their meeting. Hoe-Un read their literature about a God named Jehovah and began to visit their meetings. She wanted to know more about this God who could make people happy. Though she appreciated the kindness of the people at the Jehovah’s Witness church, she began to realize their beliefs were different from what she was hearing from preachers on a Christian television program
When her Christian doctor found out that she was attending the Jehovah’s Witness church, he encouraged her to try a Christian church instead. She was introduced to a lady in a local Presbyterian church and began attending Bible studies and church meetings. Through the Bible studies and care of her new Christian friends, Hoe-Un decided to believe in Christ. She even led several of her friends to Christ and they too began coming to church. She saw God answer her prayers and began to experience a peace she had not known before. She stopped her drinking and idol worship.
Though she grew in her love for and trust in God, Hoe-Un’s depression actually worsened. A Christian friend brought her to see an OMF International missionary doctor, Randy Adams. Dr. Adams began treating her medically for depression and she met weekly with Dr. Adams’ wife for counseling. The Adams used a combination of prayer, Scripture, and cognitive behavioral therapy to encourage Hoe-Un to reject false thinking and replace it with truths from Scripture.
One area that changed was her interactions with people. Fear of disapproval, led her to avoid eye contact. She found that friends would get angry at her for being rude which only deepened her low self esteem. Over time she realized her sense of worth didn’t come from people, but from the fact that she was God’s precious child, loved and adored by the King of Creation. Fear of people was replaced by God’s love and mercy toward those who, like she once was, are without God and hopeless.
Hoe-Un began visiting the house church which meets in the Adams’ home. Her 10-year-old daughter who came with her was so impressed by the changes in her mom that she decided to become a Christian as well. They were baptized together a few months after their first visit.
Not long after this Hoe-Un’s mother showed up at a church meeting. Hoe-Un had not invited her. She came on her own because she wanted to see what it was that had caused her daughter to change so much. Hoe-Un’s mother has little knowledge of the Christian faith, but comes regularly to church meetings and prays to the God who has power to answer prayers. Her faith puts some believers to shame.
Hoe-Un’s brother and new bride have also attended meetings. At their wedding, Hoe-Un was asked to lead the bride into her new house. This honor is usually given to someone who is considered to have good fortune. Before becoming a Christian, Hoe-Un would never have been chosen for this honor. Christ has so transformed Hoe-Un that much of her family now considers her the most fortunate of them all.
Despite the approval of some family members, Hoe-Un’s decision to follow Christ has caused some ruffles, especially among her in-laws. The pressure to worship the idols in her mountain village is immense. During New Year’s, her daughter was involved in a team of village girls who played drums for a celebration of a god’s birthday. While at the temple, an uncle tried to force her daughter to worship the idols. The daughter stood up to the pressure, but her mother was deeply burdened for her child who would have to face this pressure several times a year
Family opposition to Hoe-Un and her daughter’s conversions has been strong and severe. On Tomb Sweeping Day, her father-in-law threatened to kick her out of the house when she refused to worship the ancestors. Her in-laws ridiculed her faith and told her she was too superstitious and causing trouble in the family. As the wife of the only son, Hoe-Un is expected to do much of the ancestor worship. Her refusal to do this is seen as a lack of love and respect. How could she be unwilling to ease their suffering after they die?
During that day, Hoe-un testifies to an amazing calmness in her heart. In the past, she would have responded with fear or anger to such scolding. Instead, she felt a deep love and pity for her family who were bound by Satan’s lies and fear. She rejoiced in the privilege to suffer some of the opposition that Jesus faced. In the face of persecution, God truly was faithful and did “provide a way out so that ‘she’ could stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13).