Someone I’ll call Benny told me this story.
Benny volunteers at a recreation center for inner city kids twice a week. Each afternoon, they drive through the neighborhood picking up kids and taking them to the rec center. Each evening, they play games, eat, and tell stories. The volunteers try to show the love of Christ and shine the light of hope into their young lives.
Anyway, a fourteen-year-old Chinese boy named Chin started to come to the rec center in the evenings. His family is Buddhist, and he was raised worshiping his family’s idols. (It’s still kind of hard to believe that people — in America! — actually have physical idols in their homes.) Each night, however, Chin heard the story of Jesus and how He died to save the world.
Chin decided he wanted to give his life to Christ and start following Him. So he did.
When he went home that night, his parents sensed that something had changed, and they didn’t like it. They didn’t speak to him at all. The next day, when Chin came home from school, all of the lights were off in the house. His parents made him go inside and go to bed in the dark.
Other areas of Chin’s life began to change as well. He focused more on his education, and his grades improved. He became more friendly to other students. He was more helpful to his teachers.
The teachers were amazed at the changes in Chin’s life. They sent a letter home to Chin’s parents applauding them for whatever it was they were doing that had made Chin’s behavior improve so dramatically.
You would think his parents would be happy.
They weren’t. They were furious.
A few weeks later, when Benny came by to pick Chin up to go to the rec center, Chin’s mother came out and confronted him.
“It’s your fault,” she accused, jabbing her finger at Benny’s chest. “You’re the reason why our son is acting like this! You’re the reason why Chin is not worshiping our idols anymore.”
Benny tried to explain to Chin’s mom that it wasn’t him, but that it was Jesus living inside of Chin who was causing the changes in his life. But she wouldn’t listen.
“Understand this,” she said. “We are Buddhist! Our son is Buddhist!”
Thankfully, Chin is committed to following Christ, and now he is praying for his parents to come to Christ as well.
Chin’s story was fascinating to me because it’s so easy to overlook how hard it can be for some believers to live out their faith — even in America — among their own family members. This story also reminded me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:35-36: “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
I’m glad for Chin. He found Christ, and Christ changed his life.
But, the way of the cross is still straight and narrow. It’s not getting any easier.
That is something we should remember.