BEIJING (BP)–Thomas* is struggling with his future.
He teaches English to businessmen in a northern provincial capital in China. He followed his parents’ dream that he get an education and move to a place with opportunities for a good life.
But that was before he became a Christian.
“When we attend college and get the certificate, we can get a good job and make money,” Thomas said. “We seldom think of going back [home]. In big cities we can have many opportunities. We can live well. We can enjoy life much better than in small cities.
“The people in [small cities] go to [provincial capitals]. The people in [provincial capitals] go to Beijing. The people in Beijing go abroad. That’s the progression.”
When Thomas was growing up, his father worked in a government print shop and his mother was a farmer. After Thomas’ father retired, his mother developed asthma and could not walk. Now the family lends their land to others free of charge.
“A woman came to our house and shared Jesus with [my mother], but she didn’t believe,” Thomas said. Eighteen months — and much prayer — passed before she believed in Jesus. But when she did, she found she could walk again. Now “she can cook and can go to church by bicycle.”
Thomas admits he was curious about the miracles he witnessed, but he did not share his mother’s belief in Christ. There is little Christian influence in his hometown.
“I did not have any spiritual life,” he said. “I just believed in myself — like any unbeliever.”
When Thomas was 25, his mother introduced him to a church that changed his life.
“I saw so many miracles. In my house church, many believers were healed of illnesses, including cancer. The most important thing is I was touched by Jesus’ love. When we get together and my pastor prays, Jesus is with us, we can feel the love. Only God can change us, so that is what happened with me. God changed me. I’m going to go where He leads me. That’s my future.”
But Thomas is not sure where God is leading him, and he struggles with his parents’ expectations for his life. Should he continue work as an English teacher in the city or should he work in ministry at his house church? He is praying for God’s guidance.
“Before I knew Jesus, I didn’t care what I would do,” Thomas said. “I worked for myself, for only what concerned me. I am changed, so now I’m waiting to see what God wants me to do. In my future, my prayer is what about others, not about me.”
*Name changed. Michael and Kathie Chute covered this story for the International Mission Board.