Faith Comes After a Fall

Zhao Huli (left). Photo: UBSCP/Daniel See
Zhao Huli (left). Photo: UBSCP/Daniel See

“I was very proud of myself (then) for at such a young age of 22, I am one of the owners of a successful business,” theological student Zhao Huili said these words at an interview with Daniel See (UBS Translation Consultant) at Jinling Union Theological Seminary. Zhao continued, “Life seemed to be running smoothly until I discovered my partner misappropriated company funds and my business ran into debts. Then my health failed me and I suddenly had a fall one day which woke me up.….”

Born in Luoyang city in Henan province, Zhao Huili is currently doing her 4th year theological studies at Nanjing’s prestigious Jinling Union Theological Seminary.

When Zhao was 5 years old, she was brought to church by her Christian grandmother and mother. At that time, her father was not yet a Christian; it was the ladies in the family that held the faith. Zhao continued her church attendance till she was in Junior High (secondary) school, but once she reached her late teens, she stopped going to church. Ever since her teenage years, she started a search for the meaning of life but was unable to arrive at a satisfactory answer.

When the time came for her to select a high school, she prayed that God would grant her a spot in one of the best high school. And He did. But she did not acknowledge Him or thank Him in any way for no one explained to her the implications of believing in Jesus Christ.

She stopped going to church for the next six years. However, if someone were to ask Zhao about her religious belief, she would say that she was a Christian although her faith was very superficial. The one thing she continued practicing was to recite the Lord’s Prayer every night before going to bed. If one night she failed to recite it, she would find herself unable to fall asleep.

After university, she accepted a job as an English instructor/translator in one of China’s top martial art schools. Subsequently, she worked at Da Shan Foreign Language School. Armed with some experience in teaching English and at the suggestion of three other colleagues, she started a Foreign Language School with them. The school was running well for the first three years. Parents had confidence in her teaching. The number of students kept on increasing and the staff worked well together running the business.

Life seemed to be running smoothly without God in the picture. Then three “incidents” occurred which caused her to turn back to God. The first incident was when she found out that one of her trusted colleagues was fraudulent in managing their business accounts and the school ran into debts. Next, she developed a severe throat infection after three years of continuous teaching that doctors advised her not to teach for more than two hours a day, failing which she might lose her voice forever. At that time she did pray (her mother prayed as well) for healing. When God healed her, she became complacent again.

The third “incident” followed — it might seem like a minor coincidence to others but to her, she saw it as a divine intervention.  While walking home one day, she literally fell, struck down and forced on her knees! Somehow at that instance, it dawned upon her that she was a wretched sinner, undeserving of His Grace. Zhao broke down and wept for forgiveness while still on the ground.

That brought her back to church again. The church she attended had an average attendance of 100 congregants and the sermons preached every week answered all her doubts and quenched her spiritual thirst. She saw her life in the past as a kind of self-ordered, self-centered one that depended on human ability, contrary to the Bible’s teachings to Christians that our lives should be more focused on God and His will for us. She understood now why her business partner “failed her” – owing to the sinful nature humans possess. She asked herself, if she were him, would she have done the same thing before her re-dedication? And the answer was yes!

One day at church a sister-in-Christ encouraged her, “Go and equip yourself in a Bible seminary so that you can serve God in a better way”. So that is where she is at now.

“I used to be gripped with fear and uncertainty about life. But now that I have experienced the love of God, I am able to give myself to Him as a response to His love,” said Zhao Huili as she concluded her faith testimony.

By Pamela Choo
Extracted from “Interview with Zhao Huili by Daniel See at Jinling Union Theological Seminary”
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership