By Vivian Chou —
Perhaps it was a rip tide, but Sister Mei also had a vision of a malevolent hand pulling her out to sea.
While she enjoyed the beach in southern China for the first time in her life, she worried about hardships she faced and her prospects for the future. She was divorced — abandoned by her husband. And she was on vacation at Sanya Beach with her boyfriend, a married man.
“I had never seen the ocean before,” she told the U.S. Center for World Mission, currently known as Frontier Ventures. “For some reason, I felt that if I could see the ocean, a lot of my questions could be answered.”
“My husband left me after I gave birth. On the third day, he came to the hospital for the last time. He just disappeared. It really hurt me,” she said. “That’s how I started to take my life in the wrong direction.”
With “no future, no job, no money, no dignity and no identity,” she was approached by a married man and agreed to go to the beach with him. She left her daughter at home with her parents. As she brooded over her “totally hopeless” situation in the water, she lost track of the shore.
Without warning she was startled by what felt like a hand grabbing her ankle. Having grown up on the Yangtze
River, she was an able swimmer, but she was not prepared for rip tides.
“From the bottom of my heart, my mind, my soul, I cried out, Who can help me?’” she said.
Then she began to be hauled seaward.
“There was a hand holding my ankle dragging me down into the water. I was frightened,” Mei said. “I did everything I could to swim to the shore, but I couldn’t.”
She tried calling for help. That’s when she felt a hand around her throat choking back the words. Someone on her right turned his back to her, oblivious to her peril. Another on the left also turned his back to her.
“I could not make any noise,” Mei said. “My mouth was moving. I was asking for help, but no noise came out from my mouth. The hand was holding me tighter and tighter.”
Now in deeper water, her body began swirling in the torrent. A wave formed over her head. At the crest of the wave in her vision she saw a horrible face.
“The minute I saw that face, I knew it was the devil. I never was taught about the devil, but I knew it was the devil,” she said. “It was huge. It was coming on the top of the wave. It came to me and it said, ‘I’m going to kill you today.’ When I saw that, I knew I was finished. There was no hope. I was dying.”
When the wave crashed over her face, she choked on the salty brine. She was tossed by waves as she kicked and paddled, trying in vain to reach the shore. She thought of her parents and daughter, Weiwei.
“Mom, Dad, Weiwei, I’m sorry,” she said, beginning to resign herself to death. “They didn’t even know where I was. I never told them where I was, so if I died that day, they would be very disappointed.”
But if the devil seemingly had her in his grip, God’s strong hand was ready to move. Despondent, she cried out to One unknown to her. “My God…” she cried with all her strength. “I had no understanding of what I was saying,” she recounted.
Immediately, the heavens opened and a large dove descended on her. With no prior knowledge of the Bible, surprisingly, she recognized the dove as the Holy Spirit.
Then she saw a tall man in a robe with an aura of light. He motioned with one hand, through which a ray of light penetrated, drawing a semi circle. With that motion, her entire life was played before her eyes like a video, and the words “deadly sin” appeared next to the places in her life when she committed sins.
“I could not believe I was such a filthy sinful person,” she remembered. Her immediate reaction was she deserved death by drowning, but then she heard a voice of compassion.
“My child you have come back at last,” the voice said. “I have been waiting for you so long.”
Then she beheld a startling sight: Out of the man’s heart poured water and blood! She understood this was for her sin.
“I had broken His heart. All the sins had hurt Him and had been hurting Him always,” Mei said. “My depravity, debauchery, immorality, my ignorance, stubbornness, rebellion, stubbornness. Never for a moment had I stopped. Every sin I had committed was like a sharp knife that injured Him deeply.”
Then she saw a pure love pouring from his eyes. “Is that for me?” she asked.
“Yes, it is for you,” he replied. “I love you and never expect anything back from you.”
“I had never experienced such an unconditional love. I burst into tears. Why do you love me? I’m lonely and in pain. Love kept coming to me like waves.”
Mei was still in danger of drowning. Then she heard a voice from Heaven again: “Go, help her!”
Suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere and dragged her to shore. Resting on the sand, she was trembling and exhausted. She lay down and slept, asking herself: Who was the man of the vision? How did he know her whole life? How did she get pulled ashore? What was the light?
“That night I met the God I never knew,” she said.
Though she had encountered God, still she didn’t know anything about Him. When she returned to her village, she found a church and asked for a Bible. At that time in China, Bibles were scarce, and so she had to wait some months.
When she finally obtained a Bible, she devoured it, beginning in Genesis. Everything seemed foreign, difficult for her to understand. She began attending an English class taught by “Doug,” who included messages of the gospel in his teaching.
After a year, the Bible resonated with her. When she finally got to the Gospel of John when Jesus told Thomas to stick his thumb in his nail hole she remembered the ray of light that shot through the hand of the robed man in the vision at the beach.
Wei finally received Jesus into her heart as her Lord and Savior and was born again, the beginning of a journey that would take her in directions she could never imagine.
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Vivian Chou is a student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica