Chinese Church Voices

From KTV Girl to Church Planter

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

After a tragic turn of events in her family, a young woman seemed to have no choice but to go to an  unfamiliar city and become a KTV[1] girl to support her family. She experienced two failed marriages before returning to her hometown to open a hairdresser shop, and spread the gospel. This article from Territory tells the testimony of how a former KTV girl started the first church in the county seat.

From KTV Girl to Founder of the First Church in the County Seat: The Story of a Buyei[2] Girl

My Older Brothers Kill Someone; I Enter KTV

In 1997, my two elder brothers killed someone. As a consequence, my family fell into a desperate situation. My father had been a veterinarian at a moderately well-known vet’s practice in our hometown. My second eldest brother had followed in his footsteps and studied medicine. He had a motorbike taxi service going on the side and his wife could tailor. Those days, life seemed to be more promising with each passing day. But suddenly adversity came upon our household.

One day at dusk, a good-for-nothing who was in our neighborhood asked my second eldest brother to take him to a casino to gamble. My brother reckoned that, since it had just rained, the road to the casino would be muddy—it wasn’t worth ruining his brand-new vehicle. So, he didn’t agree to it. But that good-for-nothing guy threatened my brother and said, “If you won’t take me there, give me your motorbike to ride. I can get myself there.”

My brother felt that this man was being very unreasonable, so he didn’t want to give him a lift—consequently, unthinkably, that hoodlum knocked my brother’s teeth out. My brother was filled with rage. He ran back home and told my eldest brother what had happened. My eldest brother was furious. He ran to the kitchen, took the big vegetable knife, and went together with my second eldest brother to find that good-for-nothing and get even with him. (That scoundrel was well known in our hometown, and often got into fights with people. He had been to prison several times. Every year at the Spring Festival, he would go around stealing the meat people had left outside to dry cure.)

When my brothers went to find that guy, he was also wielding a knife. When the two parties met, they both got out their knives and started slashing. When that guy was cut and knocked down, my brothers rode home, saying proudly to the people in our village, “We went out to fight this evening.” Who knew that guy would bleed to death?

When my brothers heard the news, they hid themselves in fear. Because of the intense pressure, they were eventually forced to hand themselves in. According to the legal process, my eldest brother was found to be the chief perpetrator. He was given a death sentence, suspended for two years. My second eldest brother received 12 years in prison. When this happened to my family, my mother cried until she had no tears left, because when my eldest brother was sent to prison, his wife was six-months pregnant; my second eldest brother had married first, and his child was three years old. But because my brothers were in prison, my sisters-in-law abandoned their children and remarried.

It never rains but it pours; my mother developed sciatica, and my father had blood clots in his brain. Treating such illnesses required money. So, after I graduated from high school, I slung a simple bag on my back and went to seek work.

When one comes to a strange city, undecided in one’s heart, one thinks only of lightening the burdens at home. When there seemed to be no other options, I got an introduction and entered KTV to work. The first time I went inside, the people there asked me to have sex with a customer. My conscience reproved me, and I ran away. The person who had introduced me to the work at KTV found me and said if I was going to be like that, how was I going to earn any money to send home? Afterwards, although my heart rebuked me, for the sake of my family I promised to stay. I only had to take on responsibility for normal social interactions.

In 2000, I started to work formally for KTV. In the interior’s private rooms I would be a “miss”—I helped customers choose songs, poured tea, poured liquor. Sometimes the customers would try to embrace or hold me, and I would do everything I could to avoid them. After singing for an hour, customers would usually give me one or two hundred yuan as a tip. As the days went by, my heart began to numb, and I started to feel dissatisfied. I saw that the girls who slept with the customers made lots of money, and I just couldn’t hold myself back. Afterwards, if I got to know a customer better, I was willing to sleep with him. Every time I got hold of money, I wired it home. In this way, three years disjointedly ground by.

Two Shattered Marriages

In 2003, I was 26 years old—I had reached the age of marriage. I returned home from Ningbo, and through a friend’s introduction, began a romantic relationship with a former high school classmate. Not long after that, he proposed. At that time, I thought my day had come; I had felt tired at heart the last few years and wanted to find a truly dependable place to belong. So, after a very short time of dating, and after meeting both sets of parents, we arranged a wedding.

However, after being married for just over a month, because our temperaments were badly matched, he became resolved to divorce. I strongly desired marriage, but I didn’t want a loveless marriage—how would that have been any different to my time in KTV? My first marriage shattered just like that—a flash marriage, a flash divorce.

Not long afterwards, a relative who had married out to Ningbo saw how I had been hurt in marriage. She exhorted me to believe in Jesus, saying Jesus could comfort and heal my heart. I listened to her; in sadness I left my home and moved once again to Ningbo.

After I got to my relative’s home I saw them kneeling on the floor and calling out loudly in prayer. To begin with, I thought they were just like lunatics—why kneel on the floor, crying like that? Afterwards, I came to realize they were crying because of all the things I had experienced, and crying for my broken marriage.

Because of my shattered marriage, I was in no frame of mind for work. My relative rented a little shop for me and we opened a jewelry store. Every Sunday, those believing relatives would come by and get me to shut up shop, and we would go to church to worship.

When I saw my relative’s warmth, I just couldn’t refuse her—the only thing to do was to follow her to church. At the beginning I was full of doubt. I thought if there was a God who loved me so much, my marriage wouldn’t have broken down. Unexpectedly, after listening to a few sermons, even though I had rejected God, I began to be changed by his word. God’s word gradually struck my hard heart into pieces.

As I came more frequently to the church, a few of the brothers and sisters realized I had been a KTV girl. They didn’t reject me—on the contrary, they had compassion on me and were merciful to me, and invited me to the church’s prayer meeting. Listening to sermons, reading the Bible, prayer—I learned to repent and to trust. My heart was liberated in a way it never had been before. Before God, I repented of my sin of adultery.

I endlessly regretted my sin. I comprehended my uncleanness, ugliness, and corruption. However, the Lord did not reject me. When I read how the Lord Jesus had associated with the tax collectors and prostitutes, I saw that I was standing there in their ranks, listening. My uncleanness could not withstand him; no, the Lord had atoned for our sins with his precious blood, making us as pure white as snow.

When I began to understand the Lord Jesus’ love for all human beings, I became joyful. I learned to sing songs of praise, and my tired, weak body slowly began to recover.

After that, the relative who led me to Christ wanted to give me an introduction to the son of an older believer. She also told me that believers in Christ couldn’t get divorced. I just grabbed hold of that sister's saying that “Believers in Christ won't end up in divorce!” so I agreed to the marriage. In that month in 2005, we arranged our wedding banquet. But my good thing didn’t last.

My husband was not the Christian I had thought him to be. He liked to drink, and every time he’d been out drinking he’d come home and get into an argument with me, always saying things like, “Get lost!” Our relationship reached an impasse. I had never imagined that before he met me, he had become entangled in a relationship with another woman. His mother had hoped her son would marry me and start over afresh. But it was far less simple than that. I discovered my husband’s relationship with his ex was becoming closer and more secretive.

Not long after that, my father’s blood clots in the brain became serious. The only thing I could do was to go back to my hometown in the mountains. I also wanted to use this opportunity to take my husband with me so we could visit together. When I spoke to my husband about this, he snapped at me, “That poor place of yours? Of course I’m not going!” I started to feel hopeless at heart. If he had cared about me, he would have accompanied me to visit my seriously sick father.

In a single breath I ran back to my old home: firstly because I wanted to tell my father the gospel, and secondly because I wanted to see whether my husband would come to my hometown to visit me. The result was that after I returned to my hometown, the problem with my husband still wasn’t solved; instead, we fought more and more seriously. Not only would my husband not come to visit me, but after I returned to my mother-in-law’s house, his attitude toward me became even worse. He started to hit and kick me, and after he returned home he would often pick up a knife and roam about the kitchen. I was terrified. What if he got drunk and came home, then picked up the knife and attacked me? I thought to myself, I cannot live with this. I phoned my elder sister and begged her to save me. When she realized what was happening, she sped in from out of town and took me back to my hometown.

After I returned to my hometown, I got in touch with my mother-in-law, hoping she could step in as a mediator. In 2009, under the mediation of my mother-in-law, my husband and I agreed to a divorce. The month after we divorced, he married his ex.

The Sound of Prayer in the Hairdresser’s Shop

I hadn’t been in my hometown long when I decided to get some training for a job. I went to Shanghai to learn hairdressing. After I had finished the training, I went to the principal town of my home county and rented a shopfront, and opened a hairdresser’s shop. During my days in the shop, I would often think back to the time when I was married in Ningbo. If my husband hadn’t wanted to be with me, why did he waste four years of my time? My heart could find no answer.

Once, I knelt down in the small inner room in my hairdresser’s shop, crying and asking God for an answer. I prayed, “Oh God, I don’t know what your will is, but I am willing to choose forgiveness—to forgive the ones who have hurt me—because you have also forgiven me all of my sins. I have also hurt people.” When I prayed like this, my heart was liberated, and the bitterness inside my heart was gone. People may abandon me, but Jesus will never turn his back on me.

I had tasted for myself the suffering sin caused me. If I did not have my savior Jesus, I would certainly have been beyond redemption. Jesus threw my sin into the ocean. I comprehended Jesus’ goodness, and now I wanted to introduce everyone in my town to his goodness. I was moved in my heart—this big town did not even have one place for a church to meet—and I felt the burden to evangelize. The people who came to get their hair done at my salon became the people I would evangelize.

Not long afterwards I met an older lady who had become a believer in the provincial capital, and had returned to the principal town in the county to live. She had no church to go to. Subsequently, we both felt moved to do something, and we redecorated a corner of the salon. I remember it was the winter of 2009, a snowy season. The cozy little room was filled with the sound of us praying and worshipping. This became the first meeting place of the church in our county town.

A few weeks later, God gradually began adding to the number of those being saved. In 2010 I went to study theology, hoping I could pastor the church even better. Nowadays, while the church has already moved to new premises, the number of people who have accepted Jesus in the county town has grown.

I am thankful that my father also accepted the Lord during the half-year I was home before he passed away. Because of the good behavior of my brothers while they were in prison, my eldest brother’s death sentence was changed to an 18-year jail term; my second eldest brother’s sentence was shortened from 12 years to eight years. At the present time they have already been released from prison and have started over again with new families. Although they experienced broken marriages, yet because of the Lord’s mercy, their marriages have been renewed. My second eldest brother later believed in the Lord and enthusiastically participated in serving the church. He has now become a church worker.

I deeply comprehend that while the trials I experienced were great, grace is just as great. I really like the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. When the Samaritan woman finished listening to Jesus’ words, she realized she was truly in a deep sea of sin. Being an excessively wanton and evil woman, she had been living in sin, marriage after marriage, until finally she was reduced to being only a “half-wife”—such dismal and bleak circumstances. The thing that makes one gasp is this: God’s gospel, the spring of living water, saves a soul that has reached its final dying breath.

From the woman at the well I see my own circumstances. Jesus says to the woman who has come to draw water, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus has given this abundant, welling-up, living water to me, the unworthy one. Now the only thing I want to do is to submit to the Lord’s will for my life. When I see those still in darkness, my heart is burdened with grief. Selling out to the flesh, losing one's soul, gaining the whole world—of what profit is that?

I heard one of our church workers say that 100 years ago, there was a German missionary who was killed when he came to our county town to spread the gospel. Lately, I have often thought upon these words: “May Jesus never have shed his blood for me in vain.” If the Lord is willing to use this “woman at the well,” I am willing to give myself without regrets, and use the rest of my life to respond to his love.

Original Article: 从KTV小姐到建立县城第一间教会 :布依族女孩的故事 by Territory.
Translated, edited and reposted with permission.

Image Credit: KTV Superstars by · · · — — — · · · via Flickr.


  1. ^ KTV (karaoke television) clubs or bars are entertainment establishments where people rent rooms and sing karaoke, usually with groups of friends or business associates. KTV clubs are also known as locations where illicit business practices take place.
  2. ^ The Buyei people are an ethnic minority group that lives predominantly in southern China. 
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