When 90-year-old Gregory Chu* showed up for the English Bible study Kimberly Lewis* was teaching, he told her he’d been reading the Bible for 15 years.
The thing was, he wasn’t a Christian.
Chu didn’t really know much about the Bible – it was just English words to him. And his English was good. He had spent time in the United States earning a master’s degree from Michigan University in 1949 and had an extensive educational background.
“I read the Bible just to practice my English,” Chu said, explaining that he had never really taken the words to heart. Lewis sensed an opportunity to start a real conversation about faith.
“I personally challenged Gregory each week to be open to the possibility that this ‘book’ he’d been reading for so long was, in fact, more than just another history book – it was the Word of God, the Creator,” Lewis said.
As the group studied the scripture, they focused on mankind’s need for a Savior and that Jesus was God’s salvation plan for all people. “Gregory began to see that the common thread throughout the Bible is God’s amazing love for us,” Lewis said. Yet when Lewis would offer Chu the chance to read the Sinner’s Prayer, he would simply smile back at her.
The 14-week Bible study ended, and Lewis lost touch with Chu. Then a month later, he burst into one of her classes. “I am Christian now!” Chu said. “I am eager to be baptized!” He shared that he had a deep desire to “do as Jesus commanded” and wanted to be baptized as soon as possible because he would be leaving the area soon to live with one of his sons.
Chu had written a letter expressing his newfound faith. Part of it read: “From now on, through learning the Holy Bible sincerely, I have determined to live for God’s pleasure, love others as I love myself, and try to do my best to give God glory, pleasure, and smile.”
Lewis was overjoyed at Chu’s profession of faith. The following Sunday, church members and students from Chu’s Bible study group attended a special baptism service the church held for him after the service.
After Chu moved, he and Lewis kept in touch over the phone. Lewis encouraged him with scripture passages for him to study. Chu recently moved back to the area but is in poor health and can’t get around the way he did when he was 90. So Lewis visits him at his son’s home each week, often bringing along friends to sing hymns and pray with him. And they praise the Lord for patiently speaking to Chu for 15 years, waiting for the English student to see the meaning behind the words he was just practicing.
-Written by Lisa H. Renninger
-Photo provided by worker
*not their real names