Who is this “Yesu” I keep hearing about? wondered Ma Rong Hua. The unfamiliar name seemed to be carried on the wind as it whispered through the remote mountains of China’s Yunnan Province where she lived. More stories drifted through her village. Stories of healing and deliverance. Mrs. Ma, as she was called by her neighbors, had to learn more…It might be her only hope.
Tragedy sojourned in Mrs. Ma’s home for many years. It first arrived in 1996, when illness stole her husband. Three years later the widowed woman’s daughter also died of illness. Soon afterwards, striking the ultimate blow, tragedy also took her only son, the person who embodied all her hopes for financial security in her elder years. Mrs. Ma felt very alone; life seemed no longer worth living.
With no one to support her, she was forced to find work. Her choices, however, were very limited. Farm the steep, terraced mountainsides surrounding her isolated village—a back-breaking livelihood even for the young—or starve. Mrs. Ma began working the rugged slopes, but any sense of hope she might still have been clinging to quickly lost its footing as she toiled day after day. The surrounding mountains seemed to hem her in like a prisoner in a cell.
It was in these despairing times, as Mrs. Ma struggled to survive as a farm laborer under the crushing weight of her tragic loss, that she began hearing rumors of Yesu, the man who reportedly could heal diseases and even drive out evil spirits. Mrs. Ma was no stranger to the supernatural. An animist (one who worships spirits believed to be resident in objects like rocks and trees) like the rest of her tribe, the A-Che, she was familiar with evil spirits.
Soon, word of this Yesu became compelling. Several villagers she knew even claimed to have received miraculous healings, both in body and soul from this mysterious man. Mrs. Ma’s moment then arrived: she heard the gospel spoken clearly for the first time. What had once been ethereal rumor finally took solid form in her understanding. Mrs. Ma repented of her sins and took hold of Yesu, making Him her Lord and Savior.
Mrs. Ma received great comfort from Yesu—Jesus—who then began a miracle in her—the healing of her shattered heart. Her hope found solid footing, perhaps for the first time in her life.
Today a house church meets in Mrs. Ma’s home. Instead of worshiping demonic spirits, she now worships the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. She sings loudly and out of tune, but I know that it’s a sweet sound in the ears of the only One who is worthy to receive her worship.
I’m so excited that Mrs. Ma now knows Jesus—she’s one more lost member of the formerly unreached A-Che tribe that has now been found by our Great Shepherd. In order to count the A-Che people group as reached, however, we must disciple them into a self-sustaining, replicating church. But teaching the A-Che is a huge challenge because most of them, including Mrs. Ma and those of her village, have never learned to read.
To surmount this obstacle Pastor Paul Fang, the first A-Che believer, verbally translates the Word of God into the A-Che language. And to reach more of his tribe with the stories and teaching of the Bible in their mother tongue, Pastor Paul is making audio recordings of his translations so that many more can be reached and taught via CD players.
As soon as he had finished his first round of recordings—a project funded through gifts to the Unreached People Groups Ministry—Pastor Paul promptly made a special trip to Mrs. Ma’s village to give each believer his or her own copy. Mrs. Ma and her fellow house church members were overjoyed to receive their first biblical resource in their native tongue! We are doing all we can to continue spreading the “rumors of Yesu” deep into the unreached mountains of China…until those rumors give way to true stories about our Lord Jesus Christ that are embraced by the entire A-Che tribe.