We sat in a restaurant eating tapas under the shade of a large tree and she gently said,
“I really don’t understand how I got here”
Which is a strange yet understandable statement. Serenety is a young, fun, adventurous Chinese woman who serves alongside me on the Africa Mercy. She started last November in Sales and is a wonderful cheery face that serves me coffee every now and then.
Serenety chose her own name a few years ago. She chose it because it means peace. Her Chinese name is Liu Ting. Ting means beauty & elegance; Liu is the name of the first ever female Chinese astronaut. This ‘Liu’ isn’t the only Chinese woman making waves in history. Serenety is the first ever Chinese crew member on the Africa Mercy; she was also the first Chinese person to come to Texas and complete the training program for Mercy Ships.
Serenety came from a north western province of China called Lanzhou. From a province full of factories, to the red dirt and pine smells of summery Texas, to the chaos of Congo. It’s an understatement to say that Serenety had to cope with a lot of new cultures. When I first met her, she delicately pointed at something and asked “what is this?” I replied with “oh yeah it’s not very good cheese, it’s some processed stuff ” thinking that she was just as unimpressed with this ‘orange jack’ fellow as I was. But I was wrong. She meant “what is cheese?”. .. as a Brit it’s difficult to imagine a world without cheese. This was the first of many situations where I was suddenly flung into this sweet woman’s shoes, realising that she was in a very foreign world where nothing was familiar.
Serentey found God in 2011 in an underground church in China. After 4 years of sleepless nights, struggling with depression and looking for answers; she came across a book that recommended finding a religion. She visited a government church and talked to people there until they showed her the way to an underground church. During her first visit she explains how she felt overwhelmed by the atmosphere and by the goodness she could see all around her. She had never heard of Christianity before this point.
The people she knew at home in China said that she wouldn’t be able to achieve her goals of going abroad and joining Mercy Ships because she is a small Chinese girl who is too weak. Without a shadow of a doubt I can tell you that this woman is the bravest person I have ever met. Serenety doesn’t believe me when I tell her she is brave, but she is learning each day that God can use any one from any background for his kingdom.
There are many stories about Serenety that illustrate this but I will share just a short one.
I shared awhile ago about my trip to the prison in Point Noire, Congo. Serenety asked me one day what it was like. I told her it was a great experience but it was a little scary and quite intimidating. The next time I spoke to her she told me she went to the prison too. She said that she was scared and didn’t like the atmosphere, or the eyes that were upon her and vowed (in her head) never to go back . Then she prayed to God that he would put the right people in that place as she felt ill-equipped and too inexperienced to help. However, as she sent up those prayers a Chinese man came out from behind a wall. Serenety was there with a fellow missionary. Together they spoke to him and Serenety translated in her respectful and gentle way. They listened to his story. He had been imprisoned because he had killed another Chinese man. He was a 50 year old fisherman and after being bullied and beaten by the Captain of his ship, he was overtaken by anger and he killed the Captain. He was sentenced for 30yrs in this Congolese prison. Serenety went back to see him with a Chinese Bible and later that man gave his life to God and was baptised in a prison that doesn’t even have running water.
Serenety keeps telling me that she is weak and that she is unable to God’s work, but I don’t think that’s what God thinks. He is using her mightily for his kingdom. She didn’t think she was the right person and God showed her that she was the perfect person.
“Even if I think I can not do something, God always provides people and resources for me”
God has much planned for the future of this brave woman from China!
Potatoes of any variety, shape or size
Good quality toilet paper; she says it’s a sign of a good and respectable establishment – I think we’d all agree on that.
Freshly squeezed juice (especially with ginger)
She also loves being surprised by God
Things that motivate Serenety
Learning new things