Cindy came from a Buddhist background and Confucius culture in East Asia until her second year at a graduate school in a Midwest college town. There she first met Dr. Bill and Clarice. Dr. Bill was a retired school doctor for a large public university. He found Jesus later in his life and felt commissioned to tell young people about Jesus so that, “they could start early”.
Cindy first met their daughter and her husband a week after her arrived in the U.S. She had a chance meeting at a local corn festival where they were distributing flyers for their church’s week-long revival meetings. Cindy saw the word “church” on the flyer, and immediately told them, “thank you, but no thank you. I’m a Buddhist. I’m all set in my religion.” Yet, they knew Cindy was new to the school, town, and country, had no transportation, no family, and probably would need some help at some point. They gave Cindy their phone number and told her to call them any time if she needed any help. Cindy left thinking she would never have anything to do with church or any of these overt Christians.
Dr. Bill and Clarice also hosted international students through the university’s international student’s office. That night after they heard about their daughter’s encounter with Cindy at the fair, the family knelt down and ask God to send Cindy to their family so they could host her while in school. Imagine Cindy’s surprise a couple of weeks later when she got a phone call from Dr. Bill asking her if she remember meeting a couple at the corn festival! Cindy had and they invited her over for a nice dinner.
Dr. Bill and his family had lived in Asia when he was in the Air Force. So they shared their travel stories and memories of that time. They also spoke about other topics and eventually the topic of faith came up. It was a pleasant conversation. At the end of the evening they invited Cindy over for dinner again and offered to take her grocery shopping each week since Cindy did not own a car. Like many, Cindy had some negative encounters with Christians, but recognized Dr. Bill and Clarice were different. There was something special about them that continued to draw her to them. While she wanted to be around them, her previous encounters had tainted her perspective. She suspected their hidden agenda to convert her to their cultish religion. She did not want to have anything to do with this thing called Christianity.
Yet, Cindy was touched by their hospitality and care, so she continued to engage with them. Her curiosity grew because she could see something different and that their faith played an important role in their life. Eventually, Cindy began attending church with Dr. Bill and Clarice. They gave me Cindy her first bilingual Bible, and three months later on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Cindy was baptized, died to her old self, and resurrected with a new life with Jesus.
Being the first Christian in a Buddhist family that had a deep ancestor and idol worshipping tradition proved to be a real challenge. While Cindy and her family fought over her new faith, Dr. Bill and Clarice prayed for her and her family. When Cindy was graduating, her non-believing family came to attend her graduation, and the two sets of parents (her parents and Dr. Bill and Clarice) finally met. Cindy’s parents were not Christians, but they were deeply appreciative of Dr. Bill and Clarice’s love and care for me. They were also grateful for them for being the surrogate parents to me while she was so far away from home.
Twelve years later, in God’s timing, Cindy’s mother decided to give her life to Jesus. Since then, salvation came to her extended and immediate family like domino dropping; her cousins, aunts, uncles, her only living grandparent, her sister, niece, and most recently her father. They abandoned the idols they used to worship. Now they worship the living God, not any idols. It all started with a family who decided to take the action to love a stranger from a foreign land.
Action for the day
Today be on the look-out for someone you are able to invest in their life. Maybe it is someone younger who could use a mentor. Maybe it is someone who is older and needs companionship. Maybe it is someone you meet in the fast food line. Ask Holy Spirit who He would like you to invest your life with. Imagine the domino effect when one life is changed, a whole family and generation can be changed.
Prayer for the day
Jesus, thank you that you see us. Thank you that you want us to invest in each other’s lives. Today, Father, point me to the person I should be investing my life with. Let my live be a living sacrifice to You and bring Your love to the earth. Let your love shine through me and touch those around me. Let me have an impact on families, not just individuals. I pray this in the name above all names. The name of Jesus. Amen.