One student’s story: on finding hope, truth and love
An interview with Wendy*, a Chinese student at Massey University
By Jeff Lane, OMF NZ International Student Ministries
Jeff: When you were growing up in mainland China, what was your worldview?
Wendy: In Chinese culture, you don’t need to think about the future. You just accept the decisions of your parents. The main purpose of education is to become an atheist, successful and rich. My worldview was strongly related to wealth and health, such as high social status, a well-paid salary and sound health. There is always a voice saying to everyone that, ‘Because someone can be successful, you can do it too’. Fierce competition is everywhere throughout life.
Jeff: Why did you join English corner, and then the meal and introduction to Christianity program?
Wendy: When I was a Masters student at Massey University, English corner and the meal and study was a great time for me to make friends and have a rest from my studies. Before I came to study, I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer in Vanuatu. When I found out that you and Annette were Christians, it gave me a feeling of home. At the beginning, I felt it was a break to attend. Then it became a mission for me to introduce the gospel to international students. On one hand we shared the same background and had the same experience of studying in New Zealand. On the other hand, God is the only hope in such an uncertain journey. After finishing studies, the decision to stay in NZ or go back to our original country was hard to make.
Jeff: You were a Christian when you started at Massey. What did you think of the Bible and the Christian faith at that time?
Wendy: Yes, I was a Christian when I started at Massey. Before I went to Massey, I lived in Vanuatu for one year. In that island country, I experienced cyclone Pam and both my parents’ deaths in that same year. Then what I experienced and saw made me ask why the people of Vanuatu acted in such a nice and altruistic way during the disaster time. Before that I had no idea of the Bible and Christian faith (when I was in China). Afterwards, I started to study the Bible and attended a local English church.
Jeff: Why and how did your views about life and who Jesus is change?
Student: The biggest change is that God makes me feel safe. In China, we have a saying that goes ‘No matter how rich and how high your position, you can still never feel safe’. In the last 100 years of history, China has experienced famine 7 times. In 3 of them millions and millions of kids and women died. When I first heard the song, ‘I am a child of God’, I could not stop crying. I had found my heavenly Father and felt safe in my daily life.
Another change is to do with my pride after I came to know Jesus. In the past 40 years, my education has taught me how to be successful. It emphasised personal effort and using my talents, which made me proud. When I knew that Jesus gave me the talent, wealth and health, I would put myself in second place and repent every day in prayer. It reminds me of the love from God and to be humble in daily life.
Jeff: Now you are a graduate. However you, your husband and your daughter continue to come. What do you now enjoy doing on Friday nights?
Wendy: My whole family enjoys helping on Friday nights. My daughter’s first NZ birthday was prepared by Annette. She is a loyal fan of Annette. My husband and I would like to support the Bible study and share our testimony with Chinese students. It is a sowing period sometimes without any obvious results. However, a seed could grow to be a giant tree. We are sowing hope, truth and love.
*We have not used her real name here, to protect her identity