From Useless to Grace

Her name meant "don't" - don't want; no use, useless.

Her name meant “don’t” – don’t want; no use, useless.

Behind every face, however worn and wrinkled, is a person created in the image of God. She is a deaf-mute, dark-skinned from working long hours under the sun, with a toothless grin on the left side of her mouth. Although she is only in her early 60s, she looked older beyond her years, perhaps because of the harsh life she had.

She married an old KMT soldier, who came from the mainland in 1949 and could not find any bride, except those who are physically challenged in some way. They had a daughter before he died, but later she got married and left her, never to be seen again, and she was left alone.

Without any skill, she eked out a meager living by collecting the garbage from her neighbors, sorting them into perishables, recyclables, and trash, before hauling them to the garbage truck. Sometimes her neighbors would give her small sums of money such as $100 NT (about US $3.30), and with that she would survive from week to week, going hungry when her money ran out before the next “charity”, until “grace meal” (see yesterday’s post) came along.

It was a “chance” (some would call it “providential”) incident that brought her in contact with our host missionaries. Her zipper was stuck, and no matter how hard she tried, she could not get it loose to go to the bathroom. Desperate, she went to our hostess for help, struggling unsuccessfully to communicate her plight with her “e-e-ah-ah” sound and gestures. Our hostess understood her dilemma and resolved her problem, and from that time on she would visit our hostess every day, sometimes more, because she found someone who would not reject her, but was willing to extend help.

No one knew her real name, but one time she fell sick and our hostess took her to the clinic. The nurse doing the registration asked for her health card. She rummaged through her pockets and finally produced her ID card, which read “甭” (pronounced “béng”), meaning “don’t”, “no use”, or “useless”. Apparently her parents recognized that she was both deaf and mute at birth, and gave her a name that described her condition and future. That name shaped her self-esteem for the rest of her life, until she encountered Christ in the person of our hosts as His ambassadors. They gave her a new name, Grace, which speaks of what the Lord had reserved for her.

We don’t know her relationship with the Lord, as she can’t express herself. But she knew how to point to heaven to give thanks, and now she always carries a smile on her face. Behind every face is a person loved by God, valuable in His sight. From useless to Grace, that’s how God sees us.

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  • Catherine Chan  On April 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Thanks Rev. Ray to share this wonderful story!! May I share with the children sometimes? God bless – Cat

    • Pastor Ray  On April 19, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Sure. By all means. Share mission stories with children. They need to learn about God’s work elsewhere.

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