Three guests attended the lecture I was giving about Christmas, but none of my students seemed to know who they were so I felt uneasy. They stayed after class to ask more questions, cautiously revealing that they were students at a neighboring school and wanted to hear the Christmas story from me. Students from my university had told them that I was a Christian, and their hunger to hear more about Jesus touched my heart.
One of the three young men was faithful to visit me every week and we would go out for long walks to avoid listening ears. During one of our walks he told me that his mother had esophageal cancer. She had recently undergone radical surgery to remove the cancer cells but the doctor didn’t know about reconstructive surgery, so she had to stay upright all the time to keep the contents of her stomach from spilling. However, the doctor expected her to die because she had been vomiting blood and couldn’t keep anything down. Would I please pray for her? The village he and his family lived in was nearly all Christian and they were praying for her complete healing.
Spring came and I didn’t see Li for a long time. I began to worry about him, and although I continued to pray for his mother, I wondered if he had gone home because of her dying? Then he came one day to tell me that he hadn’t gone home nor had he heard any word about her health. He was finished with exams and planned to go home that weekend. The next day he returned with another young man whom he introduced as his brother who had finally come to the city to bring news of their mother to him. Would I please attend church with them on Sunday morning? It was not my habit to attend Chinese church because I knew I would be watched and those who spoke to me would possibly be questioned. Nevertheless, I accepted the invitation.
Although we arrived at the church compound early, the building was already full, so someone found me a little stool and the three of us sat together outside. Soon there was standing room only even in the courtyard. Li translated what was being said and commented that the pastor was courageous to speak of things forbidden by the government. The congregation sang some songs I knew, but they sang slowly and mournfully in a lower key to better suit their voices. I sang either harmony or an octave higher. Li’s little brother leaned against me, and I sensed his enjoyment.
After the service we ate together and Li translated for his brother who spoke no English. Little Brother thought I sang like an angel. They had kept me in suspense about their mother’s condition until now and I was eager to hear how she was. Little Brother said he had delayed coming to the city because their mother was eating normally and sleeping normally by lying down at night. The family wanted to be sure that she was actually recovering and not merely rallying before dying. It had been a couple of months now, and she had gained weight and was actually helping with the fieldwork. The two brothers were beside themselves with joy and thanked me for adding my prayers to theirs. This was my first experience with miracles in China, but not my last.
James and I had walked down to the shore of the lake behind the hotel housing foreigners. It was a beautiful spring weekend and people had to buy tickets to enter our university campus. The flowering trees and shrubs were in full bloom and the fragrance-laden air was intoxicating. Suddenly we heard two sharp reports just over the rise at the road. Nobody acted like they heard anything, but often the Chinese deal with trauma this way, so I asked James what that noise was. He didn’t know and he didn’t care, he assured me. Well I was curious. James tried to persuade me to stay at the lake, but I began to walk toward the road coming down steeply from the hotel set on a bluff above the water. Reluctantly James followed.
There was a circle of curious onlookers already gathered around a young man lying motionless on the pavement. His bike lay at the foot of the retaining wall, twisted grotesquely, both tires burst. Immediately I began to pray silently for the boy whose brakes had failed. His skin was turning black. One knee of his jeans was ripped, but there was no blood other than the skinned knee.
“Lord, he’s dying! Please don’t let him be taken until he has a chance to hear about You.”
We stood quietly for perhaps ten minutes. James was impatient but I refused to leave. “Lord, if he dies, or if he has severe injuries, his life won’t be worth much. I plead the blood of Jesus over him, to give him life and health so that he can hear about Your love for him, and give his life to You.”
The injured boy stirred slightly. An elderly man stepped forward and gave the boy a hand to stand up.
“We can go now,” James urged. “He’s alright.”
Without replying I stepped in front of the boy and looked directly into his eyes to see if they were focused. Not only were they focused, he spoke to me.
“Hello!” I exclaimed. “You speak English!”
His color didn’t change, so I persisted in petitioning for total recovery. Someone gave him directions to the campus hospital and I listened closely because I was not familiar with the campus, either. I wasn’t sure the boy could walk so I asked James to walk with us, but James was extremely reluctant because according to Chinese custom, when one aids a needy person he is committing himself to that person for the rest of the needy one’s life!
We shuffled very slowly toward the hospital and I continued to bombard heaven on the injured student’s behalf. Little by little his color changed, as though unwillingly. I asked if he had feeling in his hands, in his legs. Did he feel cold? The hospital was far away, giving me time to watch him gradually regain color and a sensation of pain in his knee. Color crept back into his hands and legs and the limp disappeared. The severe abrasion merely looked like a skinned knee. By the time we reached the hospital the doctor was disgusted that he had to bother with the boy at all, and wrapped his knee only because I insisted.
As we were exiting the building the boy’s companions came racing up on their bicycles and we said our good-byes. Lord, I didn’t get to say anything about You to him. When he wakes tomorrow morning I pray that he will be sore enough to realize that he narrowly escaped death and understand that he was preserved for some important reason. Please send laborers into his harvest.