Acute pain wove its way around the fringes of my heart, trying to penetrate the interior.
I realized I had a choice. I could let the ache I was feeling go deeper, or I could let it go. Unfortunately, I chose the former, making the six weeks my daughter was in China the longest weeks of my life. Never had time poked along at a snail’s pace as it did during that time.
When Rebekah presented my husband and me with her plan to go to China on a mission trip, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. This was a great opportunity for a nineteen-year-old. It would broaden her horizons and stretch her faith. Little did I realize how it would stretch my faith too.
It stretched it almost to the snapping point because of my choosing to wallow in a puddle of misery. Today, almost four years later I regret my response to her being gone. I could have done so much more with my time while she was away. Sure, I prayed for her, a lot – but my wilted heart barely hung on…
Helplessness washed over me like a tidal wave the day she called and I found out she had been sick and missed out on some fun time with her teammates as they played soccer with the Tibetan monks. More sorrowful for her than having to miss out on the soccer game was not being able to go with her teammates on the prayer walk around the Tibetan Monastery. All I could do was hug her with my words.
What delight filled my soul when Rebekah finally came home and told us of her adventures – the highlight of her trip – leading a girl around her age into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
She and her teammates had to be very careful about what they said, what they wrote in emails, and said on the phone. The girl that she led to Jesus was given a name by Rebekah, an English name – Joy.
They had an instant connection and one day when they were at the bakery where they usually met kids, Rebekah began telling Joy about God.
Joy said, “How could He not be true when you look at the stars?”
Rebekah had Joy read the Four Spiritual Laws and explained anything she had questions about. When they were done, Rebekah asked her if she believed and she said yes, and then they prayed together.
Rebekah and her teammates smuggled a few New Testaments into China – they didn’t look like Bibles, as they had butterflies on the covers. One of these Bibles was given to the Tibetan monks by Rebekah’s teammates. This was the first known presence of the gospel in that area. What a thrill to hear about this and to know that as these monks would read the gospel in their own language, that God has promised His word will not return to Him empty.
One of the Chinese girls who also accepted Christ while they were there was heartbroken when they left. Her English name was Annie. When they were in the train station saying their good-byes, Rebekah gave her the necklace she had on. She said Annie had tears streaming down her cheeks. We saw a picture of Rebekah looking out the train window after they had boarded, Annie’s hand on the glass outside, looking bereft and alone. The look of longing on her face speaks volumes.
Of course, there was sightseeing – What trip would be complete without it? The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, the huge malls. Rebekah thought the Forbidden City was a lot “cooler” than the Great Wall and chuckled when she told me there was a Starbucks there. She loved shopping – and became quite adept at bartering. She came home with some beautiful clothes, gifts for us, other members of the family, and friends.
It’s a strange feeling to know my child had such an experience without me. While she can tell me all about it, I will never fully know what it was like for her there in China, “the land of the rising sun.”
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