THAILAND — No one notices the young Chinese woman silently
crying in the back pew. It’s the only place she finds solace from her deep
depression and fear of death.
She’s not even sure why she sits in this church every afternoon; her communist
education and Buddhist religion teach against a belief in God. Yet something
keeps drawing Lily Wang* here.
She pulls a Bible from the pew. It’s not in her native Mandarin, but she flips
it open anyway. She learned to read a little Thai after moving to Thailand a
few years ago to teach school, but she hasn’t learned enough to really
So many questions cloud her mind that she finally musters enough courage to
speak to a man carrying the same book. He brushes past the petite woman and
goes about his business. The rejection reinforces everything she’s feeling — no
one is interested in her; no one cares.
Distraught and angry, Wang walks to the foot of the cross and screams, “Are you
“I don’t want to die. I want to live,” she cries. “Please give me a way.”
Wang storms out of the church, vowing never to return.
A few weeks later, Wang is sitting at her desk preparing
lessons when a student rushes into her international school’s classroom.
“Teacher! Teacher!” the girl exclaims. Wang jumps up, startled and concerned,
until she hears, “I found your book.”
The student hands her a soiled booklet. She found it in the trashcan on the
playground. Wang scrunches her nose against the stench and explains it isn’t
hers. The girl must throw it back in the trash.
“But teacher, it must be your book,” the girl insists. “It’s written in
Wang quickly scans the first page. Her heart leaps. The story is about Jesus’
death and resurrection. She thanks her student for the book and sits down to
read. The booklet, a tract called “Song of a Wanderer,” answers every question
she whispered in the church. The information is shocking. Her education since
childhood taught only evolution, but this booklet claims life started from a
complete human form, not a single cell.
“This has to be true,” she mutters to herself.
The book opens a new world for Wang as she discovers a Creator-God. She stuffs
the booklet in her back pocket and takes it everywhere, spending every spare
second reading and rereading.
For weeks, her whole world revolves around the torn book. Finally, Wang decides
she needs more. The booklet quotes Scripture throughout; she wants a Bible —
but she has no idea how to find one. In her home country, China, you can’t just
go out and buy one at the corner bookstore. Wang decides to write to the
address on the tract requesting a Bible.
“No matter the cost, I will pay for the Bible,” she adds to the letter, fearing
the Christians might reject her again.
“I don’t really believe anything will happen,” she thinks,
preparing herself for disappointment. “It will be just like when I prayed in
the church — nothing. God isn’t interested.”
Wang can’t help herself, though. She watches the mail daily, but nothing
arrives. Just as she’s about to give up hope, a woman speaking Mandarin calls.
Southern Cross Project, a Chinese Bible distribution ministry, received her
letter. The woman offers to deliver the Bible in person.
Over coffee, Wang learns that as she was screaming at God months ago in the
church, some American mission volunteers were distributing Mandarin Bibles and
Christian literature packets to Chinese tourists. Somehow, one of these books
made it across town to her.
“I’m in God’s hands. He does care about me,” Wang admits. “I need to accept
After her meeting, the teacher rushes home to call her
mother in China. She excitedly recounts her new discovery and urges her mother
to tell her sister.
“How can I share if I do not understand it myself?” her mother asks.
It hasn’t occurred to Wang that her uneducated mother might not understand the
tract. It speaks to educated Chinese, those who learned about evolution and
were taught to doubt God’s existence. Wang wants her family to find the same Creator-God,
so, she calls everyday, reading from the tract and talking about God. By the
end of the book, her mother and sister also decide to follow Jesus.
The first time Wang visits a Chinese church in her city, she notices everyone
gathered around two women. The discussion about God heats up but the two remain
stone-faced, unbending in their denial of God’s existence.
Wang pulls the precious tract out of her purse and discreetly hands it to the
women. They read parts of it together and discuss it with the young teacher.
Both ask Jesus into their hearts.
Wang takes the soiled booklet everywhere she goes. Even when she travels to
England to work on a master’s degree, she slides it into her carry-on. While in
Europe, she uses the tract to lead more than 20 people to Christ during her two
years of study — not to mention 20 others in Thailand.
When Wang goes to China for vacation, her childhood best friend, Chen Wu*,
notices something different about her. Wang starts to tell Wu about the change
in her life but her friend stops her mid-sentence. Wu doesn’t want to hear; she
thinks God is only for lucky people. Rather than argue, Wang comes up with a
“If you promise to read this book, I promise not to talk about God until you
bring the topic to me,” Wang says, inwardly grimacing about leaving her
precious, worn-out book in China.
Her friend agrees, not really believing something that looks like a piece of
trash really holds answers for her life. It’s months before Wu opens the book.
But when she does, Wu reads the entire thing in one sitting, then immediately
They kneel together — one in Thailand, the other in China — and
Wang helps her best friend invite Jesus into her heart.
“Isn’t it amazing how God uses a piece of trash to call people to Him?” Wang
asks her friend about the 70-cent tract. Then she adds, “Now, give me my book
Wu ignores her. She now uses the booklet to tell others in China how her life
changed. She’s lost count of how many have prayed with her to receive Christ.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — The next Southern Cross project, Jan. 30 to
Feb. 6, will be live-blogged at www.mreport.org. You can join six volunteer
teams as they pray and distribute packets of Christian literature. To learn how
to get involved in the Southern Cross Project, e-mail [email protected]. Sue
Sprenkle has been travelling the globe for more than a decade as a writer and
photographer for the International Mission Board. She currently resides in
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