“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — Jesus
“Why can’t you be like other girls? They don’t ride bicycles like a boy. And your hair is ugly. Do something with your hair.” Wen’s mother had only been back from China’s outlying countryside for two days.
“Leave me alone,” Wen shot back. “You have never wanted me.”
Who did this woman think she was? She had devoted her life to the government, helping the poor villagers and when her baby daughter, Wen, had not thrived at birth, she had sent her to the city to be raised by her grandmother.
Rejected. Unwanted. Unloved.
I’m fourteen and she thinks she can now come and turn me into her ideal female. Wen’s young mind whirled in anger. One day she would leave. If she wasn’t accepted by her own mother, why should she stay? Maybe I’ll find love. Somewhere.
The day finally came when Wen left. A college in Japan was her first stop. The dream of a new life thrilled her, but her heart did not know peace. Her mother did not love her. Not really. Would she ever find love? Was there any real reason to keep living?
The students gathered for lunch. While they ate, a Korean classmate sat alone reading from a large book. She read and then she looked up with shining eyes and a face serene.
Wen had never seen anyone’s face so peaceful. It was coming from somewhere inside. Could she have it too? She interrupted her classmate’s lunch.
“How do you look so, so happy? And what are you reading?”
“It’s the Bible, Wen. There is a God who loves you. Did you ever consider him?”
‘A God who loves? Tell me more.”
“Yes, Wen. God loves you. Let me tell you how his son, Jesus, showed the world his love.”
Wen’s thirsty soul drank deep. With her classmate’s help and the help of her classmate’s church, she accepted this God of love as her own. She made her way to a new life in the United States, but her search for love was over. She had found its source.
* * * * *
I too had been searching – for a new hairdresser. I loved my former one, but having just moved, she was a nine-hour drive away. Searching for a new hairdresser is a frightening prospect. I googled and picked a number. Wen answered.
In the middle of a “foreign” town, God gave me Wen. Every four weeks, I go to church, a hairdresser’s shop in a strip mall and settle down in Wen’s pew, her beautician’s chair in front of her mirror. There, while she shampoos and cuts, colors and highlights, we share thoughts on God and life and love. God’s peace shine’s from Wen’s face.
Every four weeks I learn how God has given her the strength to make it in a new country, to leave an abusive husband, and to walk through the land mine of fake Christians who claim friendship. I rejoice that through her, his love has spread back to China in forgiveness and reconciliation. But those are stories for another time.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters . . . . Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love . . . .” Isaiah 55: 1&3