Yan Jin slipped into church and bowed her head in prayer before the worship service began. Life was good for Yan Jin. She lived in northern China with her Korean-Chinese parents, who had brought her up to love and honor God. She was studying cosmetology and would soon have a job she loved. What more could she want from life?
That day a special speaker had worship. Mr. Kim, from Korea, spoke passionately about the people in China who suffered from leprosy. Yan Jin listened as Mr. Kim described people, who had been abandoned by their families for fear of catching the disease. They lived as cast-offs, forgotten by society, living lives of desperation and need.
Mr. Kim doesn’t even speak Chinese, Yan Jin thought. Yet he loves the lepers in China and lives among them to minister to them. God has done so much for me; I must do something for these, His children!
After church Yan Jin talked with Mr. Kim about the needs of the victims of leprosy among whom he worked. A conviction grew in her heart that God wanted her to help Mr. Kim in his ministry. He needs a translator, she thought. The least I can do is translate for him!
Yan Jin told her parents of her conviction regarding the people with leprosy. “I feel God is calling me to spend some time translating for Mr. Kim in a nearby leper village,” she said. Her parents agreed. A few weeks serving those in need would be a good lesson, and would provide great satisfaction in serving others. But as others learned of Yan Jin’s plans, they worried that she would become infected with leprosy herself. “Don’t go,” some pleaded. “You have such a promising future!”
But Yan Jin went. When she arrived at the leprosy village, she was horrified by the conditions she found. Until that moment leprosy was just a name.
She followed Mr. Kim from room to room in the tumbledown building that was home to these people—people whose bodies were so disfigured by the disease that Yan Jin struggled against nausea. Leprosy had eaten away their fingers and toes and even parts of their face. She wanted to leave. But as Mr. Kim moved easily from person to person, shaking hands, touching shoulders, examining wounds on feet or legs or face, she knew she couldn’t go.
A woman held out her hand to Yan Jin. These people may not have fingers or toes, but they have a soul and a heart, just as I do, she told herself. If I’m going to help them, I must treat them as God’s children. Timidly she reached out to shake the woman’s disfigured hand.
She translated for Mr. Kim as he spoke to his friends with words of love. A great peace settled over Yan Jin.
Mr. Kim taught Yan Jin how to treat the wounds that ravaged these people’s bodies. Together they recruited more volunteers to clean, paint, and repair the people’s rooms. Yan Jin and Mr. Kim taught them to care for the residents. Some hadn’t had a bath in years. The volunteers learned to bathe them, dress their wounds, and love them.
They shared their faith with the residents, read the Bible to them, sang with them, and introduced them to Jesus.
Several people in the leprosy colonies have given their hearts to God and been welcomed into the Adventist family.
Today, four years after Yan Jin joined Mr. Kim in his work, about 55 people minister in several leprosy colonies throughout eastern China.
Yan Jin has not been infected with leprosy as many feared; instead she’s been infected with God’s love for these forgotten people of China.
“This is a ministry I want to do for the rest of my life,” she says. “I’ve given up my plans to be a cosmetologist for a far more meaningful career, helping people whose hearts are beautiful even if their bodies aren’t.
“This is God’s work, and I am honored that He has called me to do it. I love being His hands to meet the needs of these dear people.”
Our mission offerings help minister to all classes of people in China and throughout northern Asia Pacific. More than 1.5 billion people need God’s message of hope. Let’s not stop giving until every one of them has had a chance to receive Jesus as their Savior.