Sold a buffalo to pay for Bible School

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Ye Yahui (20 yrs old), a student at Henan Bible School, aspires to be a preacher. Photo: UBS/ Dag Smemo.

HENAN: Ye Yahui’s sharing left a lasting impression on me. She is a young student around 20 years of age, currently studying to be a preacher at Henan Bible School. Her home is a mountainous village where proper roads and transportation are unheard of. She stays a distance away from the church and would have to walk 10km, climbing up and down the mountainous terrains, to attend Sunday service. Her church consists of older people forming almost 50% of the entire congregation.

For the elderly members, journeying to church is a daunting one, impossible to be completed within a day. The journey to church begins on the Saturday and their return trip is on the following Monday, since it would be too late to go home after the service on Sunday. Nevertheless, the elderly would faithfully brave the difficult walk week after week. Worshiping God has become more precious and meaningful. I am being reminded that true worship costs.

As there is no preacher in her church, God placed a burden in Ye to be the preacher. Most people especially the youths or young adults would shy away from this profession but not Ye. She was willing to offer herself for God’s use. She prayed about it and so did her father. I imagined that it would be hard for her father, like most Chinese fathers, to release his daughter to God for His service. But I believe it was her father’s faith and love for God that played a vital role in molding and shaping Ye’s love and heart for God. A way was finally opened for her to study full time at Henan Bible School.

To sell or not to sell: the family buffalo
She had to undergo many struggles before finally making her way to the Henan Bible School. At such young age, it was hard to be away from the family and her heart was heavily burdened for her family as she would want to care for them. Another big obstacle was finding enough financial means to support her studies. We were told that RMB 3,000 (about USD439) was required to support a student for a year’s tuition and living expenses — this is a large sum of money for Ye’s farming family to come up with. She cried for a few nights not knowing how to solve the problem. In the end, it was decided that the family would sell the one thing that is very dear and precious to any farmer; the buffalo.

Their livelihood one way or the other depended on the buffalo yet they were willing to part with this precious possession. By this action alone, they showed me how strong their faith was when they gave their best to God. I know her cries of anguish will one day be turned into songs of joy.

Throughout this trip, I was repeatedly encouraged by the strong faith that was lived out in the lives of the Chinese Christians. It is easy for us who have plenty to “announce” that we put our faith and trust in God since we know how and when our next meal is going to be. But not so for the Chinese Christians: they had so little to depend on for their lives, only a lot of faith in God, the one who would meet all their needs. I kept hearing from these Christians that God’s grace is sufficient for them. Truly it is God’s grace that keeps them strong and healthy. The true joy that I see in their faces sums it all up — that it is not what we have that counts, but rather it is God whom we have that makes a difference in our lives.

Written by Mr. Yan Chee Meng
Edited by Ms. Pamela Choo
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership