Searching for Peace
Tan thought religion was just superstition, yet somehow he still felt a spiritual longing. One day he set out on a pilgrimage in search of peace.
He journeyed to a distant city, where he met a Christian pastor who introduced him to the Bible. For several days, the two studied together, and Tan felt drawn to the God of the Bible. But he decided to search further before committing himself. Two months later, Tan returned to the pastor, wanting to learn more. They resumed their Bible studies. This time, Tan decided to become a Christian.
Sometime later, Tan decided to return to his home village to share the gospel with his family and friends.
When he arrived at his village, he began sharing his faith, but the people were not eager to listen. Some rejected his message; others made fun of him. Tan fasted and prayed. “God, is there no one here who will listen?” Tan found no one—except a local troublemaker named Tao Yeh.
Tao belonged to a gang that terrorized the town. Four members of the gang were jailed, and another was killed during some of their more violent activities. Although Tao had a reputation as a hardened gambler, fighter, and drinker, Tan talked with him about his spiritual condition and offered to pray with him. But Tao laughed and said that if he ever needed God, he would let Tan know.
No one will listen to me, Tan thought. He decided to leave town and find some believers with whom he could study. As he started out, Tao saw him and fell into step beside him. As the two walked down the road, Tan felt impressed to pray for Tao. Tao tried to brush aside Tan’s request to pray, but finally he agreed. They stopped along the road, and Tan prayed.
Before they parted, Tan gave Tao a small Bible, hoping he would read it. Then they said Goodbye. Tan wondered whether he would ever see Tao again or whether he would hear that Tao had died in some fight.
Tan set off for a large city where he had heard there was a group of active Christians. When he arrived in the city, he was warned that he should return to his home province or risk being arrested. Although he bought a train ticket home, Tan decided to remain and try to find the Christians he had heard about.
He got a map and began searching. He found a Seventh-day Adventist church and met Pastor Xo [shoh] and several young people who were studying to become lay church leaders. Tan was delighted when Pastor Xo invited him to stay and study the Bible.
Tan didn’t plan to stay long; but because no one sent him home, he stayed and studied. As he and the elderly pastor studied the Bible, Tan learned new truths about God. He had heard about the Sabbath but had thought that Sunday was the Sabbath. Other Christians worshiped on Sunday; why did this group worship on Saturday? Patiently Pastor Xo studied and prayed with Tan. Tan prayed, too, asking God to show him His truths. Little by little, God opened Tan’s mind to truth, and he accepted it.
Tan stayed and studied with Pastor Xo for seven months. During this time, he was baptized and dedicated himself to work full time for God. Pastor Xo assigned Tan to work in a village nearby, where there was a small congregation of believers.
One day Tan answered a knock at his door and found Tao standing there. “I had to find you,” Tao said. “I want to know your God.” Surprised, Tan invited him in and learned that three days after he had left town, Tao and his friends got into a fight with a man who was the leader of a powerful gang. The young man managed to escape, but the next day someone told him that the gang leader was searching for him to kill him. His mother, distraught over her son’s evil ways, begged him to leave town.
While packing to go, Tao found the Bible Tan had given him. He picked it up, and it opened to Matthew 6. Tao began to read, “ ‘Do not worry about your life. . . . But seek first [God’s] kingdom. . . . Do not worry about tomorrow. . . . Each day has enough trouble of its own’ ” (Matt. 6:25, 33, 34, NIV). Tao remembered Tan’s peace and wished he knew God as Tan did, so he decided to buy a one-way ticket to find his Christian friend.
Tan introduced Tao to Pastor Xo. Pastor Xo helped Tao find work, and in the evenings, they studied the Bible together. Tao absorbed the truths and accepted Christ as his Savior and was baptized. Now a new desire burned in Tao’s heart—he wanted to become a Bible worker.
He decided to return home and share his new faith with the people there. His first convert was his mother, who saw the deep change in her son’s life. But few others were interested enough to listen. Tao’s mother feared that if he remained in the village, he might fall back into his old ways. She urged him to return to the city and continue studying, but Tao explained to her that Jesus changes lives forever.
Tao did return to the city to receive more training. He knows that it is by God’s grace that he is alive, and by God’s grace, he wants to live for Him. Both Tan and Tao are grateful for how God has led in their lives, and they continue to share their faith with others as lay pastors in southern China.
Adult Sabbath School Lesson L9,10Q22015 Inside Story