“I smoked and gambled, extorted money and engaged in all kinds of criminal activities before I knew Christ,” said Xiong Jing, age 38, from Hubei province. He added, “I was bringing home lots of money but my soul was empty.”
“One day, I was given a gospel pamphlet on the streets which read Jesus Christ is God. I was attracted to the name Jesus Christ. The name was familiar to me. I started asking around my neighbors if any of them is a Christian who attends church…”
Former gangster or triad member, Xiong Jing could not erase the name of Jesus from his mind; the name kept ringing in his head.
An elderly lady in his neighborhood was the only Christian he knew around him. She brought him to a church near his home the next Sunday. When it was time for the altar call after the sermon, Xiong found himself responding to the call. After the service, a Bible seminary student approached him and shared the gospel of salvation briefly. She told him that if he were to come back next week, she would give him a Bible.
He returned the next Sunday only to find that the student was not there. So that meant no Bible. Nevertheless, he stepped to the church bookstore and bought himself a Bible.
Jesus spoke to him
When Xiong Jing reached home that Sunday, he immediately started reading the Bible from the New Testament onwards. He had no idea why he did that; he vaguely recalled someone telling him that if he were to read the Bible, he should begin at the four Gospels.
At first he could not understand the first part of the Matthew’s Gospel, but he persevered and read on until he came to the “Sermon on the Mount”—then as if a bolt of lightning had struck his soul. “I sat up straight and almost heard the voice of Jesus. I was so blown over by the Master’s teaching that I kept on reading and reading till late in the night, “he recalled.
Some Changes: Good and Bad
In 2003, Xiong began reading the Bible. It did not take very long when things began to change within him and around him. He checked his bad temper and began to pay more attention to his family members. Besides attending church regularly, he also started helping out with chores he had never in his life done before: doing the laundry, cooking and looking after his young child which meant ferrying his daughter to and from school, coaching her in her homework.
On the other hand, he left the gangs and a life of crime. This naturally meant he no longer received a fat pay check.
Meanwhile his wife began to despise him when he stopped bringing in the dough. Her personality took a 180-degree turn – from previously disliking to go out, she now led a very active night life. She frequently stayed out overnight and sometimes she was gone for weeks, or months in a row.
“I really love my wife and prayed for her to return to me one day……”Xiong broke down, crying.
Xiong could not finish telling his story. At this junction, he had broken down and was crying uncontrollably. If not for his faith anchored in Christ Jesus, he would have taken his own life.
Xiong Jing’s life has taken a U-turn — from crime to Christ. He may not have gained much physical wealth but he is rich nonetheless.
The richness Xiong Jing enjoys comes from reading the Word of God. Millions of Christians in China do not have the chance to enjoy this richness. If you would like to make a financial contribution towards making Bibles available to them, please contact the Bible Society in your country and designate your gift to ‘UBS China Partnership — Bibles for China’s Millions’.
Photo and story by Pamela Choo
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership