Guelph, ON—When newlyweds Zhenhua and Xiaoke settled in Canada in 2014, the last thing they expected was a relationship with Jesus Christ. For Zhenhua, who left China in 2011, the move was a chance to complete a doctorate. His wife, Xiaoke, simply wanted to join her husband and begin married life. But they got far more than they bargained for.
In 2014, shortly after joining her husband, Xiaoke reconnected with Dave and Linda Buchner (ISMC staff). She had met them during a previous 2013 visit to Guelph. While attending the Buchner’s FOCUS English classes, she met ISMC staff Henk and Mieke Wichers.
“I’d heard about the Bible and Jesus in China,” she said, “but knew nothing. I was Buddhist. When I met the Buchner group, I experienced things that comforted me. Strangers cared about me and I was not treated a certain way because of my status or occupation. I saw something pure in their hearts.”
Not long after becoming a regular in the Buchner group, God spoke to Xiaoke through John 10:14. “My tears wouldn’t stop when I read that verse,” she says. “I didn’t believe humans had souls. But in that moment, my soul found its home. I still had doubts and questions, but I made a commitment to accept Jesus as Savior and let Him work in my life.”
At this time, Zhenhua heard of his wife’s newfound faith. “I was an uncompromising atheist and always dismissive of God or any religion, even Buddhism,” he says. “But when my wife became a follower of Jesus, I was exposed to the Bible and online sermons at home. She never missed an opportunity to tell me about Christianity. Gradually, I realized the Bible contains much wisdom. Maybe it wasn’t as boring as I thought!”
Despite the truths he heard and the evident changes in his wife’s life, Zhenhua remained reluctant to give his life to Christ. Only when he met Xiaoke’s friends, Henk and Mieke, did he begin to change his mind.
Henk, Mieke, and Doris, another group member, were unlike anyone Zhenhua had met. “They had a special humility, kindness, and wisdom I had never sensed in others,” he recalls. “The truths of the Bible they talked about were a natural part of their everyday lives. I wanted what they had.”
In the summer of 2014, both Zhenhua and Xiaoke began attending a weekly Bible study led by Henk and Mieke. “Everything gradually became clear,” says Zhenhua. “I understood what sin was, how it separated me from God, and how Jesus is the perfect bridge.”
Not long after Zhenhua was baptized in 2016, Xiaoke witnessed more miracles after sharing the gospel with her brother and 90-year-old grandmother, she saw them accept Christ as Lord and Savior.
Since then, Zhenhua and Xiaoke have faced challenges in adjusting to life in Canada and growing in their journey with Christ. “Through it all,” says Xiaoke, “we know God’s work never stops. No matter how our lives change, our God never changes. He will always watch over us with His steadfast love.”