"Jane" has given us permission to use her real name, but in order to protect her family, friends, and the church at large in her home country, China, we have chosen to use a pseudonym instead.
In our recent appeal letter, we included comments from Jane. Below, see the entire interview with minimal edits to learn more about this extraordinary woman:
What sacrifices have you made to come to Westminster?
Coming to Westminster is not a sacrifice, but an honor! It is such a great honor to be clearly called by the king of the universe to study in a seminary!
Coming to Westminster is not easy, as lots of temptations did rise up. I stumbled a few times, but the Lord always brought me onto the right track. Praise the Lord!
I learned translation and interpretation in college and I could earn around $80 per hour. If I did not come to Westminster but started working right after college, I could have easily pleased some of my relatives who care about me but have not been saved. The Lord always gave me the strength and courage to face all the pressure.
I have many friends in college and in church, and my family will miss me a lot. It is painful to leave them. However, for the Lord’s great commission and His calling of going to seminary, it is totally worth it. I desire to be better equipped and serve them in a better way.
The biggest temptation came from a relationship. I used to be so tempted to want to stay in China for a guy, but the Lord said, “Go to Westminster. Go to Westminster. That’s what I have prepared for you.” That is also the first time that I experienced the calling so clearly. The Lord revealed to me my sins and showed me His will. I gave thanks to the Lord whole-heartedly and learned, though with great pain, how to submit to His will.
Why did you choose Westminster?
When I wanted to stay in China for a guy and got ready for almost everything, the Lord talked to me as if he was anxious and weeping, “Go to Westminster. Go to Westminster. That’s what I have prepared for you.” My sinful nature held me back and I suffered to learn to submit to the Lord’s will. I was so tempted.
After I submitted to the Lord’s will and 100% gave up my own plan, my relationship with the Lord was forever changed. I learned how to talk with him and had a deeper understanding of my sins. The Lord revealed to me the sins I did not have the courage to admit. He unfolded the messages for me when I read the Bible. A lot more often now I pray to Him, even about the tiny things in life. A lot more I rely on Him.
The first Westminster person I talked to was Erin [Heilmann] in the admissions office. Among the seminaries I said “Hi” to, Westminster always replied the fastest. Even when Erin was not in office, she would forward my email to someone else so that my questions could be answered in time. This is also how I met Isaac [Lai] in the Financial Aid Office. He introduced me to a sister named Jamie, who is a good friend of Prof. Hou, the leading pastor of my current church. Jamie also told me that the way she and her husband met Prof. Hou was an amazing story as only God could orchestrate the details and made it happen. I went to Prof Hou’s church and found it very suitable for me. There are many university students there and college graduates who just started to work for two or three years. It’s well organized and it’s a real family! I always feel very warm in my heart and learn a lot from other brothers and sisters, and from the pastors’ sermons.
I’m really impressed by WTS’ way of work, very efficient and systematic! The sisters and brothers I talked to showed it so clearly to me that they love God so much, and I was always treated like family and friend.
Both Erin and Daniel [Schrock] wrote to me emails immediately after I requested the WTS catalog. Daniel gave me a book list for seminary preparation and helped me figure out the independent Bible study plan before I come to Westminster. He also gave me a very detailed description of the differences between M.Div. (Biblical Counseling Emphasis) and M.Div. (General Studies Emphasis). I asked them all kinds of questions and they always answered me with great patience and efficiency. I’m so impressed! We also prayed for each other and cared about each other’s spiritual life.
I wanted to be with Westminster brothers and sisters. From exchanging emails with brothers and sisters in the admission office and financial aid office, I could feel the Westminster atmosphere. Thinking of the fact that Westminster’s students are Christians with a wide range of age groups and a variety of backgrounds, I believed God would use this kind of environment to let us learn from each other and help each other grow in Christ. I had a Christian roommate in college and we grew together. Things are really different after I joined her in God’s family.
Since I started to contact Westminster from September last year, God revealed His plan for me step by step. I settled down in a church, learned how to talk to God personally and listened to His voice, and felt surer of my theological education. Also, I have a deeper understanding of sins and God’s calling. My relationship to Christ keeps growing and renewing.
I desire to study in Westminster so that I can have a closer relationship with God, and a solid Biblical foundation to better love Him, follow Him and glorify Him.
How did you hear about Westminster?
God let me meet Sister Ren on the bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin when I started to think of going to seminary. It usually takes 30 minutes of train ride to travel between these two cities however, on that day, it took us an hour as the train stopped for a few times. Sister Ren said it must be God who wanted us to have more time to talk. She asked a few well-known pastors in Beijing and told me that Westminster is the best.
My foreign English teacher from America always said, “This school is ok, but Westminster is probably better” every time I asked his opinion of which seminary or Bible College to go to.
When I searched online, I found that some famous Chinese pastors are Westminster Alumni!
Where do you come from?
I’m from China. I went to Tianjin, a city 30 minutes of bullet train ride from Beijing, for college. I just graduated from Tianjin Foreign Studies University in June this year as a major of English Translation and Interpretation. I believed in Jesus on June 10th, 2011. It was an American couple who studied Chinese in my college who brought me to Christ.
Most of the people I know were so shocked when they heard that I was going to Westminster Theological Seminary, but God really used this opportunity to let me share with them our Lord’s gospel! For the recent half year as a fourth-year student in college, almost everyone I ran into on campus asked me about my plan. How wonderful those chances are! I brought them to Bible studies I went to if they were interested in knowing our Lord Jesus. Some are even Christians now! College students in China do need Christ!
My parents live in Yunnan Province, which is in the southwest of China. I lived in Yunnan Province for 10 years before college. There are not as many churches in Yunnan as it is in Tianjin. The only Christian I knew before college was a summer camp teaching assistant from the United Sates. My mom believed in God in December last year after I shared with her the gospel and my testimonies. My father is friendly with what we believe, but he hasn’t been saved yet. An aunt of mine was just saved this July.
What do you plan to study & why?
I’m coming into the program of Master of Divinity (Biblical Counseling) as I desire to be better equipped by God’s words and have a closer relationship with Him so I can better love Him, serve Him and glorify Him.
Thinking of the fact that so many people are still living in the darkness without knowing Christ and are moving towards the direction of eternal torture, I feel that there’s no time to lose. For the Lord’s commission, His specific calling on me, I’m ready to take up my cross everyday and follow Lord Jesus to save the lost souls.
The Master of Divinity looks like a more difficult degree than Master of the Arts, as the study of Hebrew and Greek is required. However, the Lord has given me courage to take this one. I believe I cannot rely on myself but only on Him to finish this program. What a blessing it is to be able to embrace God by knowing the original text of the Bible!
I was brought to Christ by a young American couple, Seth and Jeaniene, who graduated from a Bible college. They held Bible class once a week and I was very impressed by the way they shared the Gospel and how well they know and how much they respect the Bible. When I asked them a question, they always referred to the Bible. Every time my questions were answered by the Bible verses they showed me, and I believed in God more. I felt that I came near to the truth that I had been searching for years.
I met Seth and Jeaniene in the second semester of my third year of college, which was in May 2011. Before I knew them, I was thinking of applying for a master’s degree of Conference Interpretation. However, after I found Christ, I realized that what I need most is His words. I want to study the Bible in my best time as a student when I learn things fast and remember well, and more importantly, build up a close relationship with God.
Currently, I’m passionate about being a missionary after I graduate. I believe during the 3 or 4 years of my theology education, God will reveal to me a clearer picture of what I should do in His kingdom. A solid Biblical foundation and a close relationship with God are of essential importance for my whole life. I yearn for His voice, His will and I want to fulfill the plan he has made for me. If being a missionary is really what the Lord wants me to do, then a theology education will be a sound preparation for my future ministry.
I am an amateur counselor for my friends. God bestowed me with some talent that my friends like to talk to me about their problems and ask me for suggestions. I’m generally considered someone who is easy and pleasant to be with. My friends say I am “really very thoughtful” and “kind-hearted”.
On the evening of June 10th, 2011, I was with [my friend] Summer who was very troubled by her relationship and asked me for help. However, I was very weak and helpless as well. At that time, I was broken-hearted and was experiencing a belief crisis as my Buddhist building was about to collapse, and I heard the Lord Jesus knocking at the door of my heart.
Watching the rain outside of the window and hearing Summer weeping beside me, I said, “God I need you.” Miraculously, the pain, sorrow and despair that piled up in my heart were immediately taken away! I was so amazed at God’s awesome power! Then I started to console Summer with all the things I had learned in Seth and Jeaniene’s Bible classes.
After I found Christ, I continued to have regular talks with Summer and other friends who needed help. I found what I lack most is His words. How I wish I could know Bible as well as Seth and Jeaniene! How I wish I could answer their questions by referring to related Bible verses! How I wish I could share with them my experience as a close friend of God!
More importantly, such counseling talks are really good opportunities to share the Gospel with people who don’t know Jesus. Only God can really help people solve their problems. I know even if I’m a Christian counselor someday, it’s not me who heals the hurting people, but God Himself. I’m only the pipe that connects people in darkness to God’s grace. If I’m a missionary in a primitive tribe, maybe I can make friends with the local people first and bring them to Christ through problem-solving counseling.
Another important confirmation God gave me for pursuing a theology education is my mom’s permission. My mom was not a Christian yet when I decided to go to Seminary. I prayed for two months for how to tell her that I had converted from Buddhism to Christianity and my desire of pursuing a theological education. She was against it when I believed in Buddhist scriptures from Dec. 2010 to early June 2011, especially because of my vegetarian lifestyle. On Aug.6th, 2011, the Lord led me to give my mom a call to tell her everything.
Though surprised, she asked me questions and patiently heard me talking. Clearly I remember that I never sounded that firm when I talked with my mom about my plan for future. Large amounts of ideas and thoughts came to me. God gave me the words, just like what was said in the Bible, “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”(Luke 12:12)
Also, my mom was really touched by one of my testimonies. When I was in the U.S. last summer for a 17-day Model United Nations study tour, I spent 12 hours per day with my roommate who suffered from manic-depressive episodes that started after we arrived in the U.S. She wanted to live alone, but our teacher wouldn’t allow that and asked her to choose from any of the teachers or group mates. I was chosen. Sometimes, I was really scared when she shouted hysterically. However, I got through by prayers. I knew only God could help my roommate and me. She usually calmed down after I prayed and I even got several opportunities to talk with her about our Lord. It seemed that I was the only person in the group that she was willing to talk to. Now we’re still in touch. My mom wondered who He is that gave me the power to put up and talk with someone who’s mentally unstable.
At the end of the phone call, my mom said, “Honey, give me some time to think, but I want to know God.” In the following week, my mom had a lot of discussions with me, but finally she agreed! When my mom said she is going to support me, I felt surer of God’s plan for me, including why he gave me a roommate who was mentally unstable.
The Lord’s calling is consistent. He said to me, “Go to the seminary. Go to the seminary.” Every time I stumbled and changed my mind, the Lord would pick me up and bring me back onto the right track. When my aunt misunderstood me and put lots of pressure on me, and I was feeling weak and considering going to seminary later, the Lord let my mom, who wasn’t a Christian yet, encourage me to study God’s words. She said she would support me and asked me not to worry, because she would be really happy if I was doing something I truly like.
Praise the Lord! I’ve come so far with the Lord’s guidance. I’m even answering these questions now. Two months ago I was feeling a bit worried when people around me were saying that I might not be able to graduate or get the visa. The Lord stretched out His hand and won all the battles for me. I know, in the future, lots of challenges will arise, but just as the Psalm I read today, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).
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