Our friends Rhonda and Tim invited our FriendSpeak team to their home for a Sunday evening going-away party for Tim’s reader, Zhichao Wu, whose American name is Rush. He is a cardiac surgeon who has been a researcher at the University of Cincinnati for a year. Rush was our first reader after we put an announcement in the UC international newsletter last January. He began studying English with Tim not long after he arrived, so they have studied the book of Luke for a year. Tim and Rhonda have also been good friends to him, helping in many ways. He calls them his American mom and dad.
Before we ate, we were sitting around in the living room, just chatting. Rush had introduced his mother, Leeway, and his aunt, Anna, to us. I was trying to figure out how to include them in the conversation by encouraging Rush to translate when I heard Rush say, “I would like to be baptized before I go back to China, but I think I have waited too late.”
Silence fell. I’m guessing everyone else had the same thought that I did: Did he say what I thought I heard? His English is good, but of course he does have a strong accent.
So I responded, “Why do you think it’s too late?”
“Don’t you only do baptisms on Sundays?” he answered.
We all jumped into the conversation then, assuring him that anyone can be baptized any time. We talked about his plan to go to Florida the next day and return the following Monday. We determined that that Monday night or Tuesday would be his opportunity to be baptized.
He said, “My aunt Anna may also want to be baptized. She has been reading the Bible in China.” We were elated, but hesitant to say more.
Everyone brought delicious food, including Rush. His ribs and his broccoli dish were scrumptious. The three of them enjoyed sampling the American food as well as what he brought. (I wondered if he brought food so they would have something familiar. Maybe not. He loves to cook.)
When Tim prayed before the meal, he prayed about Rush’s decision to be baptized. Rhonda hadn’t been in the room for that conversation, so she was so surprised that in the middle of the prayer she shouted, “Oh, Wu-zhi! Praise God! I didn’t know! This is fabulous!” It was a lovely spontaneous endorsement of his decision.
So yesterday our three Chinese friends arrived back in Cincinnati after an exciting week in Florida, from Miami to Disney World. But they were most excited about the evening’s activities.
Twenty-seven Central believers showed up to witness the baptisms of Rush and Anna. Rush and then Anna gave their confession of faith in Jesus Christ and went to the dressing rooms to prepare for the baptisms. While they were gone, we sang many hymns and spiritual songs. That in itself was inspiring.
But then Tim and Rush entered the baptistry. We all went up on the platform to see better and to encourage them. Usually, I simply watch and enjoy a baptism, but this time I felt compelled to take pictures. After all, this was a landmark event for us—the first time one of our readers chose to follow Jesus Christ.
So that’s how I have these great pictures. We all applauded as Rush threw his hands in the air in a sign of victory. Victory in Jesus!
Then Anna went into the baptistry. Tim was going to baptize her, but Rhonda, ever uninhibited, said, “Oh, no! Wu-Zhi! You have to baptize her so you can baptize more people in China!” So he did. As he brought her up out of the water, both were smiling and weeping at the same time.
After they dressed and came out where the rest of us waited, Tim said that Rush had something to say to us all. With his accented English, it was eloquent.
“I want to thank everyone for letting me be a part of this group and learn about Jesus.” Among other things, he said, “I do not believe in coincidence. I believe someone arranges everything.” He paused, and when he didn’t hear any agreement, he added, “That is the God.” Smiles and murmurs of assent. “I believe that the God sent me to study in the U.S. so I could meet you all and learn about Jesus.
“You are all very good and warm people. You are the best people I have seen in the U.S. I appreciate your good advice on how to be a good Christian.
“I remember the picture of the God guiding a surgeon’s hand. I believe I can do that because the God will always help me with my patients and also to help me that more people can know him.”
Then Tim closed with a prayer. Hugs and blessings all around!
The FriendSpeak motto is “The Word is the teacher. We are the illustration.” Tim, Rhonda, and our entire group have modeled that over the past year with Rush. We have tried to show him the love of Jesus in the way we live our lives. It truly shows that when the seed falls on good and honest hearts, God will reap a great harvest.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
I Corinthians 3:7-9