Jenny Zhu was born in China, grew up in Panama, and completed her education in Canada. She has since moved to Spain with her husband and children, where she shares God’s powerful grace with those around her.
Listening to the students around my table discussing their experiences of living in Canada took me back to my own student days, reminding me how God used that time to draw me closer to Him.
Like the international students I hosted for Friends for Dinner* during my last year in Canada, I knew how hard it is to start over in a foreign country. When I came to Canada for high school, everything was new—culture, food, language, lifestyle—and I was alone and apart from my family. In Grade 12, my parents went bankrupt and didn’t have the money for me to continue studying.
A Christian couple in the community responded to my predicament by opening their spacious home to me. They helped me with my homework and my English. I had grown up learning that love always comes with conditions, but there I experienced unconditional love for the first time. This couple loved me so much, I always felt like a daughter. Through them, I came to understand a little of our heavenly Father’s love for me.
I had responded to an invitation to accept Jesus at a summer camp before coming to Canada, but didn’t really know much about God or faith. In Canada, God worked in my life, and in the thirteen years I was there, He gave me a new identity and purified my heart. God’s grace started to heal wounds caused by abuse, rebellion, bitterness, and shame, preparing me to give to others as I had received from Him.
I’m honored that God has seen fit to use my struggles to help others. I now live with my family in Spain, where I serve as a translator for my Chinese church. Before the pandemic, we started bringing missionaries from Canada to help organize a summer youth camp. This year, God opened a different door; our church is using Zoom to reach youth in Panama. I am also in the process of equipping myself as a Christian life coach to mentor women and families, helping them see God’s purpose in their lives.
In so many ways, my ministry reflects my life and the powerful grace I experienced from our heavenly Father who works all things for good.
Former international student
*Friends for Dinner is an ISMC hospitality program that brings international students into Canadian homes for a meal during Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Please visit www.friendsfordinner.ca for more information.