Xianhua Li had a good life. She had a noble, stable job working as a kindergarten English and Chinese teacher. She was earning good money, had a nice house, and had many life goals. She soon realized, however, that life was so boring and hopeless. She had a relationship with God, but it wasn’t her main focus in life. She started praying, asking God what she should do with her life.
A short time later, she had the opportunity to come to the United States. She decided this is what she wanted—something different, something different than the hopeless life she currently lived. When she arrived in the states, she had culture shock. Although it was something definitely different, it was still the same old life that she had when she was back teaching in China.
“I felt very emotionally drained and tired, mentally and spiritually—everywhere. I had to put on a fake mask to other people, but I was not satisfied,” Li said.
Whenever she would go to church, she saw one lady that was always smiling.
“Why is she so happy?” she would ask herself. “I want what she has.”
It was Rina Ritivoiu, a member of the Sacramento Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church. Li started to spend more time with her. The more time she spent with her, the more peaceful she felt with God. Ritivoiu introduced her to Weimar Institute and encouraged her to check it out. There were many things that had to be worked out, however, Li found herself almost like walking in the dark. She was on visa and she couldn’t earn money; she had no one to support her, and she didn’t know what was going to happen. “I needed to take that step of faith,” she said.
Li started to pray because there were so many things that needed to work out in order for her to come to Weimar. She decided to renew her connection with God as well. Early in the morning she would wake up to read the Bible and pray. Her daily prayer was, “God, if You are real, please answer this question and open the door for me to go to Weimar. Answer these prayer requests I have written up, or I will go and enjoy the world.”
Slowly yet steadily, God started to answer every prayer request she had written out. She had more joy and peace now—God was real! She was planning now to come to Weimar. Her new prayer was “God, I want to experience your Word in my life!” One of her favorite psalms was chapter 91. Little did she know how God would answer that prayer.
When she was at her community college class one day in Oakland, a shooting erupted in the next-door classroom. Li saw people terrified, but she had peace in her heart through the whole terrifying experience. She remembered Psalm 91. God had saved her life in a miraculous way, and now she wanted to share her testimony “I didn’t know that I could have such peace and courage.” She started getting interviews with different news stations like Fox news.
“I told them that God will protect us, we don’t need to fear what goes on around us. I told everyone that they needed to believe in God.”
In 2012, Li came to Weimar where she entered the massage and hydrotherapy program. She learned about the medical missionary work. After her program, she started working at the NEWSTART program as a health Bible worker doing massage and hydrotherapy. She remembered things that she had forgotten, like the time she had written on her wall that she wanted to be a health worker. “I had a lot of dreams, and that reminded me that God still remembers my dreams.”
During her time at Weimar, she got to know Jesus as a personal friend. And God also used NEWSTART to change her life and mold her character. “A job serving others isn’t always easy,” she said. “I talk to them one on one, they talk to me. There are days I go home and feel so tired, but God is teaching me about myself. Just like gold is dirty and then you have to mold it and make it smooth, that is what NEWSTART did to me. I have to be patient and compassionate. I am human and cannot naturally love anyone. But God is teaching me to love the people the way He looks at them.”
She is inspired with the changed lives she sees at NEWSTART. From the beginning of the program to the end, she sees people become happier. She has had the opportunity to pray and study the Bible with her patients. And she continues to feel humbled and blessed to be a part of their experience. “God is using me as a tool. Without God, I cannot do anything.”