Relentless Grace


He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.’

Matt 13:31-32

Xiao Mei is a member of the Hui people group.  As with almost all of the Hui, Mei was raised as a Muslim.  As a young girl, she did not know about Jesus because she was a Muslim and studied the Koran.  

While in high school, Mei attended a Christian camp.  At the camp, one of Mei’s friends was running and took a nasty fall. Everyone in the camp quickly hurried over to see what had happened.  Mei saw her friend lying on the ground looking as if she were dead.  Fear for her life quickly passed through the entire camp since the nearest hospital was miles away. Mei burst into tears. She noticed that some of the teachers were praying for the injured girl.  Mei too began to pray.  She cried out, “If there really is a God, please heal my friend.”  As soon as she had finished praying, her injured friend got up off the ground.  This was indeed an answer to prayer. 

Mei was deeply moved by this experience.  So, two days later, she visited a Christian church. At the church, Mei was asked if she wanted to accept Jesus into her heart.  Mei did not know what to say, but she did not want to look out of place, so she said “yes.”  Later, a pastor asked if she meant what she had said when she prayed to accept Christ into her heart.  Mei was still uncertain, but began to consider this throughout the day.  Later that day, after reflecting on the message and her experience, Mei decided that she was ready to receive Christ in her heart.  She prayed the sinner’s prayer.  This time she meant it!

When Mei accepted Jesus as Lord her parents were naturally very angry. Her mother told her that she would “knock out her teeth” if she followed Jesus.  In spite of this opposition, Mei continued to stand firm in her faith. So far the other members in her family are not Christians, but Mei believes that they will soon become believers. Mei has had visions and dreams from the Lord of her family being saved. Now that Mei has accepted Christ she gets along much better with her family, particularly her sister. 

One of my memories of Sister Mei is especially vivid.  A Chinese house church leader, Brother Zhang, spoke in our chapel.  After an inspiring service, he met personally with Sister Mei, who explained that she felt called to take the gospel to her people.  I still remember Brother Zhang’s words of exhortation.  He said there are “three fears” that you must overcome if you are to share the gospel with your people.  First, don’t be afraid of “poor living conditions.”  Second, don’t be afraid of “difficult work” [that is, ministering among unresponsive people].  Finally, don’t be afraid of “going to prison.”  If you overcome these fears, the Lord will use you in a powerful way.  Sister Mei was encouraged by these sobering words.

Sister Mei senses that God has called her to establish a church within the Muslim community in our city.  Sister Mei believes that God will open doors for her so that she will be able to do mighty things in His name. She looks forward to serving Christ and reaching out to Muslims.  

Sister Mei’s story makes me think of the parable of the mustard seed (Matt 13:31–32). God’s kingdom is indeed very much like this tiny seed that grows, gradually but relentlessly, into a large plant that towers over the rest of the garden. So also the kingdom, from something seemingly insignificant and very much unnoticed, it grows in unstoppable fashion until we finally see its true significance in the lives of people. God’s work in Sister Mei’s life bears witness to the unstoppable, relentless power of the kingdom of God at work in China.

Lord, I acknowledge that at times I become discouraged, and in those moments the world appears to be controlled by dark, powerful forces. I long to see, in very tangible and visible ways, the triumph of your kingdom here and now. And when I fail to see corrupt rulers brought down, the poor cared for and sinners transformed, I become impatient. And so, Lord, give me eyes to see the realities around me.  Enable me to understand the significance of small beginnings. Allow me to perceive the impact that one transformed life will make. Help me grasp the awesome depth of your love and the incomparable wisdom of your redemptive plan. Lord, as my eyes are opened, I stand in awe before your unstoppable, relentless grace.