HEBEI, China – In another year’s time, Yan Zhibin, a lanky 18 year-old, will be enrolled in a seminary in his province. Currently an Electrical Engineering student at a technical school, he said this is a risk he is taking with God- a leap of faith. It turns out that this is not the first, but the result of a series of ‘leaps of faith’ he has been taking with God.
The First Leap
Zhibin comes from Baoding, a city in Hebei province, a three hours’ drive from Beijing. Coming from a family of four, he lives with his parents and a younger brother. Though a third generation Christian, he did not attend church regularly and did not understand much about his faith.
It was only a year ago that things started to change. After attending a worship service at Bethel Church with his parents one Sunday, he stumbled upon a poster on the church notice board. “The colourful poster shows various fellowship groups with different names according to different age ranges. Then I saw a group suitable for me – ‘Love Fellowship’ for 14-18 years old.” recalled Zhibin. “Knowing that I am by nature a shy person and not exactly very sociable, my parents encouraged me to attend. After consideration, I felt some inner prompting that I should go for it even though I did not know anyone there.” (Photo: Yan Zhibin (left, standing) with a class of Sunday School children age between 6-7 )
That decision turned out to be the first risk and one can easily tell from talking with Zhibin that it was a risk worth taking. Since then, Zhibin began attending the fellowship regularly, learning more about his faith and has become more sociable and outgoing. He even started serving as an assistant teacher in his church Sunday School ministry, taking care of 6-7 year olds. Little did he realise this was to be a year of change and transformation that would continue to stretch his faith in God.
Bad Results And A Second Leap
The next turning point came when Zhibin did not do well for his secondary exams and was considering quitting school and getting a job instead. “I was not keen to continue studying. So I talked with my father about it. In China, we think it’s better to find a job than to attend a not-so-good high school. He agreed and even said he would help me look for a job.”
Some time later, Zhibin found out that his father did not do so. “My father talked with me a few months later and told me that without any skills it would be difficult to find a job. So I should at least attend technical school and pick up a skill. It’s an important decision not to be trifled with.” At the same time, his mentor from the Love Fellowship encouraged him to prayerfully consider theological studies.
“I was quite surprised that my mentor would suggest that to me. I am after all not the smartest guy. I wondered what she saw in me. But as I prayed and waited upon God, I sensed that God had already laid the burden in my heart to serve Him. As I served in Sunday School, I saw the importance of teaching the Word of God to children and youths, sharing with them what I have gone through and how God has worked in my life. In order to serve God more effectively, I would need to get myself equipped.”
Enrolling into a seminary would mean that he has to first finish technical school, as one of the requirements for admission is completion of high school. Hence, by faith, he enrolled in a technical school and opted for the Electrical Engineering course as it seems to offer the most practical and useful skill. “Initially I could not get into the course as the class was already full, but my mentor prayed for me as I talked with the course lecturer and was finally accepted when one student decided to change his course!” There begins another leap of faith.
It is amazing what God can do in a life that is fully surrendered to Him. May there be more youths in China who like Zhibin are willing to take risks with God.
Story: Cynthia Oh
Edited: Angela Teo
2016 © United Bible Societies China Partnership