A Dream Come True

God answers prayer in an unexpected way


What is your dream in ministry for the next year?” I was intrigued by this question on my annual personal ministry plan.

I had not mentioned to anyone that I had been praying for university-age students to feel that our home was always open to them. I wanted it to be a place where they could share problems, bring friends or dates—or just hang out.

My husband, Ron, and I have been C&MA church planters for four years in the third largest city in Russia—Nizhniy Novgorod, located where the Volga and Oka rivers converge 250 miles northeast of Moscow. In Soviet times it was called Gorki and has an unofficial population of 2.4 million, since many people who live here are not officially registered.

Answered Prayer

A month after I filled out my ministry plan, Ron and I mentioned my “ministry dream” in a prayer letter. Obviously, people began to pray. Our apartment soon became a haven for university students.

To our surprise, many of them were Chinese. Qu Wa, a member of our church and a student at the Conservatory of Music, had a burden for her Chinese classmates. In October 2007, while I was in the United States for surgery, she asked Ron to conduct an outreach Bible study in her dormitory. Ron taught in Russian while Qu Wa translated into Chinese. This was the beginning of a new and exciting ministry.

Approximately 150 Chinese students attend various universities in Nizhniy Novgorod. Some come here because they did not qualify academically for the competitive Chinese universities, and some are interested in a master’s degree in opera, which requires foreign language studies. Thirty Chinese students are Qu Wa’s classmates at the conservatory.

Eventually, the students from the dormitory joined a small group that meets in our apartment. The Chinese students are friendly, loving and giving young people. When they found out that Ron and I love Chinese food, they each brought a Chinese dish one night. They love the chance to share their culture and food with us. A phrase they say to us many times with great pride is: “Welcome to China.” (Maybe that dream will come true as well.)

Chinese Literature

As the Chinese group grew, so did my love for them. But with that affection came a burden that they adequately understand the gospel. Qu Wa translated for them when necessary, but we did not have Christian literature in their own language so they could read and study themselves. One evening at Bible study, Ron apologized for not having any Chinese Bibles. But Qu Wa grinned as she pointed to our bookcase. Alongside our Russian Bibles, she had placed three Chinese Bibles. We hadn’t even noticed!

We started praying for God to provide us with good Christian literature in Chinese. I contacted Anthony Bollback, a former worker in China, who directed me to a Web site. The materials I found were just what I needed. I pray that the Chinese library I have started in our apartment will help our students to have a clear understanding of the gospel, especially since many of them have no religious background or one of Buddhism.

Following the Lord

A December 2007 outreach brought several new Chinese students to us, including Vei Vei and Ye Qian. Vei Vei came to Christ in China but needed discipling. Her Russian was weak and my Chinese, on a scale of 1–10, was zero—but we didn’t let that be an issue. The Lord gave me an opportunity to have input into her Christian growth, and she began attending church and our small group. She was baptized in June 2008, and in July, she finished her studies in Nizhniy Novgorod and returned to China.

Ye Qian, the other new student, asked if she could hire me to help her prepare for an important exam. I said I would be happy to help her but would not take any pay. Our weekly study sessions have become both a mentoring and discipling opportunity. We have become close friends, and as we have laughed, cried, shared, prayed and studied together, Ye Qian has blossomed into a growing, committed Christian. As she has shared her story with me, I see that God has been weaving His perfect plan into her life.

By age four, Ye Qian could write all the Chinese language characters, and when she was five, her parents enrolled her in school (most Chinese children do not start until age eight or nine), where they expected her to always excel beyond her years. Ye Qian’s mother frequently called her “baby bird,” meaning that the small, weak bird must work harder to keep up with the bigger birds—or, in Ye Qian’s case, the bigger students. Ye Qian spent her life seeking her mother’s love and approval.

When Ye Qian was 12 years old, she saw a man selling home-made wooden crosses. Though she had no background in religion, she bought one and hung it on her wall so she could see it when she studied. She began to pray to the God of the cross every day, asking Him to help her do well in school.

At age 17, Ye Qian went to a university to study folk music and piano. After graduation, she became a teacher but then enrolled at Shanghai Conservatory of Music to study opera and at Shanghi Foreign Language University to study English. There, she decided Europe was the place for a career in opera, so at the age of 23 she left China, without her parents’ blessing, to study at the Nizhniy Novgorod Conservatory of Music.

One day, as Ye Qian was waiting for a bus, a Canadian Jehovah’s Witness invited Ye Qian to study the Bible with her. She did this weekly for two years, but when she was told the Bible prohibits blood transfusions, she realized that a God of love would not prohibit her from saving a life. Qu Wa told her that Jehovah’s Witness is false and invited her to church. There, Ye Qian heard the way of salvation and asked Christ into her heart. Then she understood what the cross she purchased so long ago really meant.

Ye Qian’s life changed immediately. She began to love her parents more despite their demanding treatment and started helping other students however she could. She also took a part-time job at a hospital translating for Chinese doctors treating Russian patients.

What an exciting day it was when Ye Qian was baptized. She sang “How Great Thou Art” in Russian, wonderfully showing Him and our church family how great God is in her life!

In May 2009, Ye Qian will graduate from the Conservatory of Music with a master’s degree in operatic concert and teaching. Before she became a Christian, she wanted to perform in operas, but now she feels God is directing her to go to the United States for Christian education and to study religious music. She believes God is calling her into full-time music ministry.

Ye Qian told me recently, “You and Ron have helped me so much in getting to know God better.” Her story and others that are yet to be told show that my “dreams” for ministry really did come true! “[He] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine . . .” (Eph. 3:20).

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