Note: All names have been abbreviated for safety
“I felt called to come to China in my last semester of college. I didn’t tell many people because I wasn’t sure if I would come. I was scared, and worried about how I would be provided for. For many months I prayed occassionally about it but didn’t consider this calling very seriously until God challenged me one day as I read John 4 when Jesus states that “my food is to do the work of Him who sent me.” I was so concerned with earthly food, and with having a career, being respected, and being safe, that I was not considering the deeper need to follow His will. The same day I read the John 4 passage, I heard a teaching on Joshua 24, where Joshua tells the people: “choose now whether or not you will serve the Lord.” I knew then that God was calling me to trust Him and say yes, even though I didn’t know where I would end up.
So I found a job in a primary school in China, and worked for a year, studying the language and becoming acquainted with the culture. In my second year I changed jobs and cities so that I could work in a university and there God graciously allowed me to meet the leaders of ROL. After some time of observing them and praying, I felt it was good to join their ministry. I praise God for how He has led me. I have gotten to see God grow my faith and use me to reach others because I was willing to say yes to his calling, and to consider Him and His will more important than other pursuits. May He be given all the glory.”
“In college, while hearing some missionaries speak at my church, I felt a desire to do mission work. I thought God wanted to use me in a way that was related to my major. After I graduated, I made a plan and tried to move forward, but for several years, it seemed like all the doors were closed. I became discouraged, and I questioned whether it really was God’s will after all. After some time, God convicted me that I was focusing too much on myself rather than on Him. I was holding on tightly to my plans and dreams for my life, instead of submitting them to God and following Him wherever He led, even if it wasn’t what I had in mind. So I surrendered my plans to God and resolved to be content wherever He put me.
A few months later, one of my friends told me he had seen on Facebook that there was a missions opportunity to teach English and do college ministry in China. I got in contact with River of Life, and had peace that it was right, so I decided to go ahead and do it. I had many fears when coming: How was I going to quit my job? How was I going to be a teacher with no experience? What if I was bad at being a missionary? Still, I had peace that going to China was the right thing.
God won’t always use us the way we expect Him to (I never thought that I would be an English teacher!). But it turns out that His way is always better. I never dreamed of teaching or even living in China. But God’s plans are exceedingly abundantly better than my plans for myself, and
I’m so thankful that He brought me to China. He has been faithful to provide for all my needs. When coming, even the things I was most worried about (like quitting my job) went smoothly and so much better than I expected. In China, there have definitely been some times when I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know what I was doing. But God is faithful in meeting me in those times, and I’ve grown closer to Him through that – it’s when we feel inadequate that God can use us the most.”
“I had just finished college and was working at a small store when I heard about River of Life (ROL). Well, it wasn’t River of Life at that time, but it was the beginnings of what it is today. I was struggling to find my place in the church after graduating. Was I still to go to the college group, should I join the adult group? I had questions, but was encouraged to go to one final fall conference with Northwest Collegiate Ministries.
At the conference, we sang a song called, Because He Lives. The chorus hit me like a truck.
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone, Because He lives He holds the future and I can face uncertain days because He lives.”
I sat down and wrote in my notebook: What about the lost! Who will show them this hope? What can I do?
Right after the song ended a video came on talking about ROL and asking if anyone wanted more information to learn how they could go. I grabbed a flyer and told my college group I believed God wanted me to go to China. I was really excited.
I got home from the retreat and sent an enthusiastic email saying how I believed God was calling me to China and how I wanted to do missions there. I got a reply that shook me. It said thank you, but in the future, avoid using these key words. It is for security reasons. Attached was the application form asking why I wanted to go to China.
Why DO I want to go to China?! Security reasons?! What am I getting myself into?!
So, when family or friends asked about the application, I would tell them I was applying. This meant my application had been downloaded and was saved on my computer, but left untouched due to fear. It stayed like this for three months. Then in February, I was washing dishes and singing a song that was stuck in my head. It was called, Beautiful the Blood. After singing it a couple of times, the first verse really got to me. “I never knew death could be so sweet. I never knew surrender could feel so free, I’ve never seen such meekness in majesty, that the blood of Jesus was bled for me.” I thought, “I never knew surrender could feel so free…huh…”. I checked the time. It was 7:10pm. I knew at 7:00 on Tuesdays a college group met at a church up the street. I had never attended before, but thought I should check it out. I left the dishes half done and grabbed the car keys.
At the church I walked in late and sat in the back. There was a married couple talking about how God had called them to Hong Kong and what their ministry in China was. The rest of the evening was talking about the great commission and how God calls us to go and make disciples of all nations. God pursues us, just like He pursued Jonah. I realized I was Jonah and I knew what I had to do.
I went home that night and wrote what God had done in my life. How He showed me it doesn’t matter why I want to go to China. What matters is that He said go, so I need to go. After I realized God was in charge of my life, not me, everything just fell into place. I needed to buy a ticket before they got too expensive, but didn’t have money. That weekend, my grandma randomly gave us grandkids money out of the blue. It was enough for a one way ticket to China. Only problem was I didn’t have a job guaranteed yet. But I knew without a doubt God wanted me there, so I bought the ticket. My family told me that sometimes God closes doors, but I knew with all my heart He wasn’t closing doors. He was kicking down walls. A week or so later I got a call asking if I wanted the job at the university. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. God will be with you through everything. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Former Student V.H:
“ROL is a amazing group and it means a lot in for me! Full of God’s love and blessings around us.
I am a Chinese. I heard Gospel and met the first Christian from ROL when I was a freshman. It totally changed my life. After two years, Jesus’s love touched my heart and I made the decision to follow Him and be a Christian. This is the best blessing in my life!!
ROL discipled me and encouraged me to serve God. ROL helped me to be a student leader and lead a small bible study group when I was in college. I graduated last year and God offered me a job near my university, so I can continue to serve He in ROL.
College students is a very special group. They begin to think about the truth, their life and the world. And they are easy to fall in the sin because they don’t know about sin or just hear the voice from the world. It is necessary to let them know about Jesus. “Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life.”—John 14:6
Thanks God for choosing me to be his daughter and disciple. I learned and heard a lot from God when I share the Gospel to others and study with another staff in ROL. It always remind me how our Father loves me and I am valuable. I am so thankful that I can serve God, grow up in ROL and He makes a way for us to reach the lost kids by Himself.”
“For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus”—Philippians 1:6
Former Student M.M:
“I never thought that I would become a Christian until I met my teacher at college. He gave me a bible at the study they organized for college students, and that’s how I began to study about who God is and decided to follow him after seeking and being poured into by this ministry. This decision changed my life. After I graduated, I felt called to stay with River of Life, for two reasons, to grow spiritually and to serve.
It’s been more than 3 years since I changed from a student leader to an ROL staff. it’s so amazing to see how God has been working in my life, and I am thankful that God is using me to help other younger college students and also helping me grow my faith. Which is so cool for me, because those are the two main reasons why I stayed. As our ministry is growing, I am excited to see how God is going to use us in the future!”
“I have been out here since 2012. I have met a lot and I mean A LOT of students. Sometimes it seems a bit overwhelming but as an extrovert, I gladly except the challenge. My heart just feels so compelled to meet as many students as I can to tell them the good news and invited them to church or a Bible study.
Being the extrovert I am, meeting plenty of people wasn’t the issue. The issue was that I wasn’t getting anywhere with all the people I was meeting. Conversations were shallow and not growing. This, as you can imagine, can be a bit disheartening. A couple summers back, I was working at a summer camp and as camp was coming to a close, I was thinking through what the next semester was going to look like back at school. I really felt God deeply impressing on my heart to focus on 5 girls.
Five? Only Five?!? That’s crazy talk!
Not understanding why I was to focus on just five, I faithfully stepped into that. I had known these girls for some time and they seemed to be the most interested in learning about the Bible. Their hearts seemed to be more open than others to letting the Word change their lives. So, I invited them to come to my apartment every Friday for a Bible study and fellowship.
We studied the Bible for about an hour or two. We started with the major stories in Genesis and worked our way through to the Gospels. All the while teaching them how to pull things out for themselves. How to dissect it for everything it’s worth. It was slow goings at first but a month into it, they were getting it!
This was such a sweet time for me because one by one, all five of them became Christians throughout the semester. At the end, all five officially became sisters!! Not only did they become believers, but they grew closer as a group. They referred to each other as sisters and quickly became best friends. They still have those friendships to this day. Some have graduated and moved on, but they still contact me and each other when hardships arise. What a sweet picture God painted. I am so happy God led me to be faithful in that moment, otherwise I would have missed out on the sweetest thing that had every happened to me in my whole time over here in China. Praise God for His faithfulness! AND that He is the one who readies our hearts to hear His word! I am honored to be His messenger and witness the miraculous changes He brings on the people we get to share with.”
“How did I come to China in the first place? I wasn’t actually interested in China… or anywhere in Asia for that matter. I was a sophomore in college studying business with great ambition to be successful business woman living the American Dream. While speaking with a professor about my future and what I can do during my college life to work towards my American Dream, she suggested me to come to China with her that summer. There was a group going to Beijing and Inner Mongolia. We were to teach English at a summer camp.
Long story short. I loved it! I couldn’t stop talking about it to everyone who would listen when I came back to the states. I loved it so much that I ended up studying in China for a semester too. Needless to say, my passion grew. I shipped off to China the moment I graduated. I was under qualified, terrified and had no idea what I was getting myself into. All those feelings aside, I was super excited!
In all my trips to China, I had to take huge steps of faith. I had to raise finances to get out here. I had to apply for jobs I had no idea how to do. I had to move my whole life to a city I had never been to. Everything was taking great steps… no LEAPS of faith. But, God supplied everything down to the last penny. I have never been in need as far as finances go. My student loans (however hefty they may be) are getting paid off. I have a great fellowship here. I am surrounded with great friends and students to help me survive in China. And most importantly, I have God with me every step of the way. He guided me through teaching, gave me creative ideas for lessons and classroom management. He gave me patience in learning how to teach English to non-English speakers. How to speak to them in a way that THEY can understand and learn from. All of it was supplied by Him and Him alone.
All in all, I’m so thankful God pulled me off of the road I was on towards the American Dream. My life may have been comfortable, but nowhere near as exciting. I have had opportunities and experiences I could have never dreamed of, all because I took that first step of faith in stepping into the unknown.”
“Evangelism isn’t really my strong suit. I’m extremely introverted and I can never figure out how to (non-awkwardly) bring up the Good News. One week, we were all challenged to find one person to share our testimony of how we came to know Jesus with one person. I prayed about it, not really expecting a chance to share my story with any students. A few hours later, I was at dinner with two students and they were talking about something and they asked me a question that gave me the perfect opportunity to share my story. God provided that very same day I prayed. I was so unqualified, but it was God who made the way.”