“The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.” (Psalms 23:1, GNT). Never in all my years as a Christian has this promise been so real to me until I started Bible School training.
My name is Ma Liqin and I am 21 years old in 2010. I belong to the ethnic Big Flowery Miao (also known as A-Hmao) group. Most of our people live on the mountains in the northwest Guizhou province of China. My people group is the Miao tribe who has the privilege of getting the entire Bible translated into our native mother tongue in 2009 with the help of the United Bible Societies. According to some estimates, Christianity is the primary religion of my people group forming 80% of the whole population (source: Operations China).
I come from a Christian family, every Sunday I join my parents and extended family members to worship God in our village church. In my own small way, I tried to serve fellow believers in the area of hospitality. When church members traveled from afar to attend the Sunday service, I would offer to host them at my home overnight and share what little food my family could afford. Although this was just a small service on my part, my parents objected to my hospitality ministry. My parents are against me serving God in a full-time capacity, most of all, they strongly objected to my decision to enroll into a Bible School.
My decision to serve God in the church was motivated by my poor health since childhood. When I was in Primary school (i.e. Grade 1 to Grade 6), I experienced great pain because of a strange illness. I recalled how the Lord comforted and encouraged me through worship songs. “Something” took place as I worshipped Him. As God ministered to me through songs, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to dedicate my life to God. I shared with my parents my desire to become an evangelist if I were healed by God. But when I recovered from my illness, I did not fulfill my promise to the Lord.
It was not until my junior high school days when I was 17 that I fell very sick again. This time, perhaps it was out of fear of losing me forever that my mother agreed to let me pursue theological studies after graduating from Junior High. Thinking I had my mother’s blessing, I went ahead to sit for the entrance examination into a two-year Bible School. All this while, I did not realize my parents were hoping that I did not pass the prerequisite exams. When I did pass the exams and was accepted as a student of a Bible School, my mother turned her back on her earlier promise and objected to my Bible training.
“We are a poor family and you are needed in the fields as age is catching up with your father and I. Let other believers do God ‘s work!” my mother argued with me. Moreover, my parents told me that they did not have the means to see me through theological studies. Even my Christian relatives were hard on me; in fact no one in my whole family clan supported my decision. Against all odds, I went into Bible School without a single cent — not knowing how I was going to afford food and boarding, least of all Bible School fees.
How I struggled with God and prayed for divine help! God gave me Psalms 23 to reassure me that I should go ahead to equip myself for I will not be in want as He is the Shepherd.
On the one hand I am really sad that my parents and relatives have not given me their support in the pursuit of a theological education; on the other hand, I know I am walking in the will of God.
Since I started attending the Bible Training Center in September 2009, the Lord’s favor has been upon me. Some of my classmates who learnt about my situation were very sympathetic. They got together and gave me some of their clothing while others gave me a portion of their allowance. Up to today, there was not a day that the Lord has not provided for me.
I am feeling emotional now as I remember my aging parents. I love them very much and I know they love me too. Please pray for me that God will heal the relationship between me and my parents and my extended family. Thank you UBS for your continual support and love for my people.
Written by Ms. Pamela Choo
Interview and translation by Ms. Ng Hwee Hong
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership