If Not For My Sister

Ting with his guitar

My name is Ting and I turn 27 this year. I am from the Wa ethnic group residing in Pu-er City, Yunnan Province.

I am an ex-drug addict. If not for my older sister, I would have been killed by my addiction to drugs. For many years, the addiction took me on a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. Because of my drug habit, I had been on the run from the authorities. I moved from city to city, never settling down. My nomadic lifestyle lasted for almost 6 years, before I finally decided I need to go home to visit my family. Although I did make a resolution to kick my addiction, I was still hopelessly addicted to drugs when I went home to visit my family.

There is a Chinese saying (translated loosely), “When a man reaches the edge of his life, he finds God”. My family members are Christians; my older sister was a theological student. One day she came to me and asked me gently, “Dear brother, have you contemplated about your future?” I broke down immediately.  I don’t know why I could not stop crying over what my sister said.

I was a tough guy. When I was roaming the streets of Guangzhou, I would be willing to do anything to feed my drug addiction — theft, robbery, arson, even murder. Yet my sister’s words melted my heart. I found myself saying “Yes” to her when she encouraged me to go to a Christian drug rehabilitation center. She promised to keep praying for me.

But I broke my promise to her and did not go to the drug rehabilitation center. Instead of being angry with me, she held my hands and, together with my parents, prayed for me. I did not know what they were doing then. Finally after much persuasion and tears, I agreed to give the center a go. My sister took time off her work and traveled with me from Pu-er to Baoshan city where there is a Christian drug rehabilitation center.

Our journey to Baoshan city by bus took us 2 days, with a one night stopover at Lin Cang city. That evening at Lin Cang, I suffered from severe drug withdrawal symptoms. The pain was excruciating; my body ached for just one whiff of drugs. All night, I screamed and shouted for relief. All night, my sister was on her kneels crying and praying for me. Neither of us slept a wink.

There were many instances on the bus journey when I saw my sister dozing off and I wanted to get off the bus and leave. But when I looked at my sister, I started to cry again. There seemed to be a force within me urging me to press on.

Ever since I come to the Centre, I learnt a lot, especially from the Bible. I was a quick-tempered person and had wanted to fight with the people here when I had disagreement with them. So whenever I had the urge to pick a fight, I would pick up my Bible and read. God taught me through His Word to be meek and patient.

When the urge to take drug kicked in, I would kneel beside my bed and pray to God to pull me through. God encourages me with his Word: “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21, ESV)

I will be graduating in 5 months’ time. I look forward to returning to my hometown to tell people of my life’s testimony and share how God has changed my life.

If I have the opportunity, I would want to learn the written Wa language and go to Kunming’s theological college. I want to equip myself to be a witness for God and to serve and follow the Lord all the days of my life.

By Pamela Choo, based on an interview conducted by Jacqueline Ho
Photos taken by Jock Foo
Transcript and translation by Chiong Min Lee
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership

This story relates to Project No: 71228