This post is a translation of an article that was published in The Christian Times in December 2012. It is about Dr. Luke, a member of the Tibetan Tu people who became a Christian through the witness and influence of his high school English teacher, who was from Northeast China. He now works as a doctor in southern China, using his money to support mission work among his people in Tibet and Qinghai.
In Northwest China, east of the beautiful Qinghai Lake, on the south face of the imposing Qi Mountains, in the vast area bordering the surging Yellow River and the Huangshui River, lives a simple, hardworking minority group called the Tu. Some academics believe the Tu came from the ancient Tuhuyun Mongol-speaking ethnic group, while others say they are a mix of Mongolian and Huoer blood; in reality their origin is still uncertain. Yet a majority of scholars believe that they came from the Tuhuyun people, saying, the Tu are mainly descendants of the Xianbei clan of the Tuhuyun ethnic group. At this point there are about 280,000 Tu people, and most of them live in the Huzhu Tu Autonomous County of Qinghai. However, there are many Tu in three counties in Qinghai Minhe, Datong, and Tongren, as well as Gansus Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous County.
Nearly all Tu people practice Tibetan Buddhism, however they still maintain some primitive Shamanistic components that were practiced by the early Tu. At the end of the Yuan Dynasty and the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, Tibetan Buddhism, especially the Gelukpa sect, entered the Tu area and spread very quickly. Many Gelukpa monasteries were established in the Tu area. It was in this place, steeped in Tibetan Buddhism, that God's grace surprisingly fell upon this ethnic group.
His name is Zhu Zihao, but many people like to call him Dr. Luke. He is one of the first Tu Christians, and because of his middle school teacher and the enthusiastic work of this first group of believers, this entire ethnic group is becoming more and more open. When I asked the question, Where did the name Luke come from, he responded, An older American gave it to me. At that time I wanted to go study medicine in Sichuan, so this man gave me that name.
A Tibetan Buddhist Turns to Christ
Dr. Luke was born in the Tu Minority area of Qinghai in 1989. He introduced himself saying, This area was an early home of Tibetan Buddhism, but it was also influenced by Islam.According to the traditional beliefs of the clan, it was my fate to become a Buddhist. Since I was little, I believed in demons, and, whats more, believed that if demons exist, then God must exist as well.
In 2001, along with many children his age, he entered middle school. At that time, his English teachers educational methods were very unique. Because he liked the way his English teacher taught, Lukes English grades were quite exceptional, and he grew closer and closer to him. How could a Christian share the Gospel with an ethnic group so rooted in Buddhism? Actually, this English teacher was a missionary who had been sent by God. This teacher told the students he was a Christian, and that whether it was in class or in life he always loved them with the love of Christ. Dr. Luke said, It wasnt until later that I found out that this teacher often climbed a mountain to pray for the region.
Through Gods amazing guidance, during the second semester of his first year of middle school, this English teacher also became the head teacher of his class as well as his geography teacher. Because his parents had gone far away to find work, Luke was a bit lonely as time for the high school entrance exam approached. About 20 days before the exam, he knelt by himself in his yard and cried, Goddess of Mercy, Buddha, God, are any of you there? If any of you really are God, please reveal yourself to me, and tell me why am I suffering so much.
God had mercy on him, and one week later, his English teacher invited Luke to his dorm. The English teacher said, Ive told you all that Im a Christian. I want to tell you about it. Are you willing to listen? So the teacher told him about Jesus and the Gospel. Luke was at a loss, because Tibetan Buddhism was their traditional religion; how could he leave it behind? Furthermore, this English teacher was from Northeast China. It wasn't surprising that a person from somewhere else would believe something different, but for Luke, born and raised according to Tu traditions, it would be completely bizarre for him to believe in a different religion. He was thinking, could this man be tricking me?
But he greatly respected the teacher's conduct, and while he was in the midst of his struggles, God began a beautiful work in Luke's heart. He said to the teacher, "I'm willing."The teacher spent two days telling him about the Gospel. A couple of weeks later, the teacher gave him a Bible, which he regarded as a treasure. It was graduation and harvest season, and about 20 people from this school became Christians.
After completing middle school, Luke entered high school. He persevered in his new faith, not giving up meeting together, reading the Bible, or praying. Many of his prayers, both big and small, were answered, and he sank further into Gods love during his three years of high school. After sharing this much, he admitted, During those three years of high school, God changed my value system and view of life. He laughed heartily.
As the college entrance exam approached, his parents prepared a basket, and filled it with kerosene, and things like paper money and other fake money (to be burned for the dead), and told him to go to the nearby temple to plead with the gods to get into college. His mother was very resolute, saying he must take these things and go to the temple. Interestingly, once he discarded these things at the temple, he started cursing the evil spirits in the name of Jesus, and rebuked the idols. Luke said publicly that no one could do anything to keep him from believing in Jesus; he'd rather cut off his relationship with that person than betray Jesus.
With his simple faith, Dr. Luke experienced an abundance of Gods grace in his life, and I felt like he could continue telling me his testimony forever. He had no choice but to abbreviate it. His life was in danger many times, including driving a tractor in the countryside and riding a motorbike. Every time something like this happened, his first instinct was to cry out, Lord, save me! It is at such moments in our lives when God works his miracles. So he said, "Many times I narrowly escaped death, personally experiencing the presence of God."
In the Midst of the May 12 Earthquake, He Heard the Voice of God
After the college entrance exam, he was led by the Holy Spirit to go to Sichuan Medical College. While at school, he couldnt go to church very often; the best he could do was read the Bible by himself at night. When he saw couples together, he also had the desire to be in love. When he told us this, he laughed, saying, Because of the altitude where we live, getting sunburned every day, everyone there looks the same: dark skin, with red faces. No one is really that beautiful. But there are as many beautiful girls in Sichuan as there are clouds in the sky. Theyre so fair, with such good skin. When I arrived in Sichuan and saw those girls, I thought I was looking at beautiful angels. He asked God to give him a girlfriend, and he learned a lot from three very short relationships.
Dr. Luke said, Because of my experience, I knew Id be better at comforting and helping people and showing them love. May 12 is Nurses Day, so their college had the afternoon off. At midday, many of his classmates went to rest in the dorm. At 2:24 pm, some people from his dorm went out, just leaving him and one other classmate.
At 2:28 pm, a striking noise came from underground. Things on the table started crashing to the ground, and the beds started swaying violently. A classmate asked him, Whats going on? When Dr. Luke described this to me, he laughed, saying that he knew immediately that it was an earthquake. How did he know it was an earthquake? Previously he had often talked about the head English teacher-geography teacher missionary that he really liked. So he blurted out, "because I was good at geography."
At that time, the whole dorm was filled with the sounds of alarmed footsteps and involuntary cries. He was really flustered, but it was as if God's words suddenly entered his heart. He adamantly asserted, These words were not my own idea, but a voice I heard very clearly. God said, dont be afraid of sudden terror.
Peace and joy sprang up in his heart, and God also gave him a verse, I John 4:18, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
He said he had never memorized Scripture, but God had put this verse in his heart. After that, he knelt beside his bed and prayed, God, thank you for letting me experience you in the midst of an earthquake. Thank you for giving me peace and joy. I believe that Ill be able to safely walk out of this room. My time hasnt come yet; I want to go out and do Your work.
The wild cries, alarmed footsteps, and sounds of the earthquake all mingled together and became one. Yet in this most critical moment, Luke didn't think of escaping; instead he knelt down to pray.
After praying, he put on his clothes, tied his shoes, and walked out peacefully. But one look at the school caused all the joy, tragedy, and pity in his heart to well forth at the same time. He said, Without God, their hearts have no peace. All the students hurriedly fled for their lives. Guys and girls didn't even stop to put on real clothes before running out.
The problems mounted. He planned to return home to Qinghai on May 21, but the trains in Sichuan were shut down. He had no choice but to take a rescue bus to Xi'an where he could take a train home. Unfortunately, the rescue bus caught fire halfway there, and it couldn't stop right away because of its momentum. A lot of people had just narrowly escaped death from the earthquake in Sichuan. It would seem even more tragic if they died on the road due to a bus explosion.
Many of them started breaking the bus windows and jumping out, without regard for their luggage, just trying to save their own lives. He continued to calmly pray, saying, God is with me. What do I have to fear?
He peacefully took his luggage and walked off the burning rescue bus. He said that during his whole month home, he attended devotional meetings. He felt prompted to say, Lord, I want to start an evangelistic student group. So it is because of this first group of Tu believers that this ethnic group is becoming more and more open. And while Luke went away to school, his English teacher was engaged in full-time missions to the Tu people.
Doing rehabilitation therapy in Shenzhen, earning money to support Tu missions work
College graduation season is when many college students go to job fairs. Once again, Luke had to decide what to do next. When he shared this with us, he laughed, saying, Because I was good at geography in middle school, at that time my dream was to go find a job in Shenzhen. Hearing this, I laughed, too, and said, Thanks to your missionary English teacher.
A lot of his classmates were using connections to try to get jobs, but Luke was waiting for Gods will. He said, I believe in God, so I wont use connections to get a job. God has prepared what is best for me.
Soon, Shenzhen Orthopedic Hospital came looking for a rehabilitation therapist, only asking for one male. Their schools medical college only had two male rehabilitation majors, one of whom was Luke, the other of whom had already accepted a job. So this job was his for the taking.
So, according to what God had prepared for him, he came by himself to Shenzhen, a city with which he was completely unfamiliar. Right after he got to Shenzhen he prayerfully declared, Lord, I want to stay in Shenzhen.
In Shenzhen, he continued to go to church, but he didnt feel love and care in the Three-Self Church. He said, I grew up in a loving fellowship, and I matured in a fellowship that shared the Word of God. I wasnt used to a church where people left as soon as the service was finished, not knowing each other or sharing with one another. So, he left the Three-Self Church and joined a House Church.
The salary at Shenzhen Orthopedic Hospital was very low. It was hard enough to provide for himself, so how could he financially support missions to the Tu people? He started to pray once again, saying, Lord, if you want me to stay in Shenzhen, if you want me to be a doctor and help others, please give me a better skill. God is a God who listens to prayer. Soon, God prepared for Luke a medical rehabilitation mentor.
After learning "somatic regulation" (a type of physical therapy), he opened his own center and started earning money. He told us that his vision is to do business and earn money, and use this money to serve God. His business is also for Jesus, and for the work among the Tu. He said he wants to be a financial provider. He also said that all Christians are missionaries, and we should never forget to share the Gospel wherever we go.
During his time in Shenzhen, he has been helpless at times, he has been swindled, and he has been humiliated, but he believes all this is Gods blessing.It is Dr. Lukes hope that his testimony can encourage and comfort other Christians no matter what your circumstances, you keep trusting in God. He is not just Dr. Lukes God, but your God, too.
Original article: 专访土族首批基督徒路加医生 从藏传佛教徒转向基督徒
photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cloudblue/88552652/ (creative commons license)
photo source: Temple and Sky, by Peter Morgan, via Flickr
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