“See you tomorrow!” Yu called out as she waved goodbye to her friends as they left her home to return to their own homes and responsibilities. They had spent the afternoon watching TV, sipping tea, and sharing stories of how God was working in their lives. Looking back, Yu recollected the twists and turns that had led her to this point. Eighty-four years old, she was still in awe at how God had used her quiet introverted spirit in such a miraculous way; at how, of the billion and more people in China, He picked her to start a ministry. Gathering up the dirty teacups to wash, she remembered how it all began so many years ago.
It began when she retired. After years of hard work, Yu was slowing down. She didn’t have the stamina she once had, and she wasn’t excited about moving into a retired life of puttering around her home, being unproductive. Yet there she was, months into retirement, doing nothing but puttering around the house and watching a lot of television. Tiring of one channel, she would switch to another and then another and yet another. And that’s how she stumbled upon Hope Channel China one day. Intrigued by all the new things she was learning about a healthy, balanced Christian lifestyle, she left her television on all day, tuned to Hope Channel.
A few times a week, she walked to the local village market to buy fresh vegetables and groceries. But other than that, Yu was confined to her home. There were a few women at the marketplace with whom she exchanged pleasantries, but other than that, she had no one she could call a friend.
Every day was the same as the day before. She was definitely not enjoying retirement.
One bleak winter afternoon, Yu was watching Hope Channel and wishing the sun would linger a little longer and delay the long, lonely night ahead of her. Just then there was an unexpected knock on the door. Unprepared for a visitor, Yu made a feeble attempt at straightening out her wrinkled apron as she opened the door. It was Tien, a woman she had met at the market a few months earlier. She didn’t know Tien very well. In fact she knew very little about her except that she lived a few villages over. What could she possibly want, Yu wondered.
Seeing the puzzled look on Yu’s face, Tien said, “Please, I need your help. Something tells me that you can help.”
Before Sister Yu could even invite her in, Tien was walking toward the couch, talking excitedly about a conversation she had overhead at the market, in a quiet corner behind the butcher’s stall. The people were talking about a holy book called the Bible and were sharing stories that they read in that book. She wanted to know more, but was afraid to show any interest. And just then, something inside of her said, “Go talk to Yu. She will help you.” The feeling was so strong that Tien immediately set out to find Yu’s home, asking many people along the way for directions.
Yu was so shocked by what she was hearing that she had no words. By watching Hope Channel all these months she felt she was a Christian in her heart, but she absolutely did not have theconfidence to share her new faith. To add to her discomfort, she remembered hearing stories all her life of Christians being persecuted, some of whom even mysteriously disappeared. Yet, from somewhere inside of her, she felt the uncontrollableurge to help Tien. So, gathering up her courage, she spoke softly, “I don’t know how to explain how and why I believe in God, but I can sit with you in my home as you watch Hope Channel. I am sure you will find all your answers there.” The television was already tuned to Hope Channel. Together they watched several shows. Tien was excited and had much to think about when she returned home that evening.
And with that began Yu’s television-watching ministry. First it was just Tien, but now there is a group of seven women who meet at Yu’s home regularly to sip tea, watch Hope Channel, and support one another with both their personal lives and their spiritual growth.
Putting her clean tea cups back in her cupboard, Yu realized how retirement was the best thing that could ever have happened to her. Her life had a new purpose. Like the fragile china teacups that she brought out every week for her new friends, God had used her fragile spirit to feed the souls of her new friends.