Everything for a Purpose

Cao teaches Scripture literacy class in her church.

SHANDONG, China – Born during the Sino-Japanese War in the late 1930s where many in China were living in poverty, Cao Yulan was given away as a young girl.

In fact, she was passed from one family to another, until she finally found a permanent home in the third family.

“My family was very poor. And because I was a girl, I was given away. Life was very tough back then,” shared Cao who is 82 this year.

But trials in life turned out to be a means of God’s grace and things turned out for the better for her. Cao was able to go to school, got her education and eventually became a primary school teacher at age 17.

“It was quite rare for girls to attend school those days. So I thank the Lord for the opportunity to learn to read and write.”

Cao (middle) and her students at the church gate. On the left, in red scarf is Gao Shengyun.

More surprises came her way. Years later after becoming a Christian, God called her to teach Scripture literacy to a group of adults in her church.

“My church pastor, Rev Li, saw that many mature and elderly adults were struggling to turn the Bible and follow what was preached over the pulpit on Sundays.”

As Cao was amongst the few people who were literate and qualified to teach, she had no reason to say no.

“That was in the year 1999. The classes went on for two years. It was good but due to lack of resources, we stopped.”

Thanks to the support of United Bible Societies to Shandong Christian Council, the Scripture literacy classes resumed recently. “There are still believers who are either illiterate or semi-literate who would benefit from the Scripture literacy class,” shared Cao.

An example is Cao’s student, Gao Shengyun, 73, who has never been to school.

“Gao was in my class in 1999. She used to feel inferior and embarrassed for not knowing how to turn to the right Bible passages during sermons. She has picked up some words now. And she looks forward to attending the classes!”

Would Cao, at 82 today, still helm the literacy class? “Yes, I will teach as long as I can!”

Looking at Cao Yulan, we see that our lives are never the result of capricious fate but all things including sufferings can serve a purpose in the loving hands of our Father.

Let’s remember Cao and her class in prayers!


Story: Cynthia Oh
Photo: Yeo Tan Tan
2022 © United Bible Societies China Partnership