Dear Kim, Mary, Kathy and Jane,
I’m writing to thank you wonderful godly women so much for a legacy you and your families have left upon my family in a way you may not even realise. Twenty years ago my husband Allan came to America, a non-believing, single man from mainland China. He had no understanding of the Lord who created and loved him. His family upbringing was darkened and deeply impacted by the Cultural Revolution that left an indelible scar on everything. He came to America with very little understanding of the Christian faith, the community of believers nor the radical transformation that Jesus brings in all spheres of life. And that’s when he met all of your beautiful families.
As God started to work in Allan’s heart and as he committed his life to Christ he was still a baby Christian. All of you modelled what it looks like to completely re-orientate your lives around Jesus. He observed the high calling you placed on gathering together as a body of believers. He saw how you took your kids to church with enthusiasm and joy and placed this as a priority. He noticed that even when it looked so hard to have a bunch of little ones hanging off your legs, you still made the effort to come up and welcome him. He recognised church attendance wasn’t merely just a thing of duty. You all exuded joy and enthusiasm in your worship at church. Allan witnessed the beauty of all - young, old, single, widowed, married, sick, successful, student, worker, ‘aliens’ and strangers – all of them sitting together not out of compulsion but out of desire and gratitude to Someone great. The whole church community encouraged Allan in his holistic understanding of God’s family. Here he came to feel a sense of family and belonging and community in a way that he’d never experienced in his own family. God showed him how to love those who were so very different to him on the outside – age, colour, season of life, status, upbringing – and yet now regarded as his brothers and sisters in Christ. Without being in this community of believers, without the weekly discipline of church Allan would have missed out on the depth and breadth of relationships that were strengthened and deepened over the years.
Sitting under such biblically solid teaching and having an older man mentor Allan enabled him to build a solid foundation for his faith. But coupled with the teaching, he learned what it meant to “walk in faith” by observing your lives. When you invited him to your weekly family community groups he tells me just how much he loved seeing the kids relating – the older ones looking after the younger ones. He talks of how he saw you all pooling your meals to do ‘potluck’ dinners and how you really genuinely cared about one another’s lives – praying together, supporting the ones who were sick and struggling and looking after the ones on the fringe – just like Allan was as a single man.
Twenty years on I am married to a wonderful Christian man, a godly husband and father, a humble minister of the Gospel here in Australia. I asked him how he knew it was important to go to church, who taught him and why did he want our boys to understand the high priority of church. And he said, as well as understanding this from a theological, ‘textbook’ perspective, it was also through observing your examples that he learned. When we take our young boys to church, when we choose to say no to other commitments on a Sunday so we reserve that as a day for family worship – not only does this model to our kids that we love God and His people, but who knows, we may even be encouraging another “Allan” amidst the congregation? Maybe the very presence of my family on a Sunday is modelling to someone in a very different stage of life that God is worth gathering for and setting aside other things to pause and take a Sabbath.
I am so very grateful that you invested your lives for that season into my husband. Who would have known that the seeds God planted through your godly witness are now being reaped in abundance in my own family and also a whole new generation of believers?