A Heart Changed
Can a small group change your heart? That's what happened to Jinmei Xu. For those of us who are native to the United States or western hemisphere, the idea of not being able to practice, share, or worship our faith is a foreign concept. We don't know what it is like to grow up in a country where religion is not allowed, where the majority doesn’t know Jesus, or where the concept of sharing our testimony and opening our hearts with other believers is taboo.
This concept was reality for Jinmei Xu. She grew up in Beijing, China where she was not allowed to practice religion. It was not until Jinmei moved to the United States 20 years ago that she was first introduced to Christianity and Jesus. Like many of us, Jinmei’s experience coming to faith was not an overnight declaration. “While I was somewhat open, it (Christianity) never found a home in my heart.” It wasn’t until years later that she found her heart changing. “…then 4 years ago something changed. I felt my eyes could see and my ears were able to hear for the first time.”
One of the reasons her heart changed is because she was able to connect with other women in a RCC small group. She joined the Ladies Friday Study and found her heart opening up in a different way than before. “Seeing people in a small group on a regular basis builds relationship that I could not achieve by just saying ‘hi’ in church services. These are people I can discuss my questions with and share my struggles and victories with. And as a result, I feel a greater sense of community and feel more connected to the church. When I see members from my small group in church services, I actually have meaningful things to say to them and feel the conversation is valuable. We are able to share something much deeper.”
For Jinmei, being in a study group also allows for critical thinking and accountability with ‘homework.’ “Because there is homework to do, I have a focus to read the Bible every day. The workbooks really ask you deep questions that you either didn’t think about or if you did, are forced to face them. After struggling with searching for answers, I feel that I understand my weak points hidden deep inside me and can face them and grow much faster in my journey with our Lord.”
Small groups provide a safe, supportive environment for one to share their struggles or joys with. This is what Jinmei has experienced while being in a small group. “I really value the discussion and prayer time at our study. Different people share with the group their life journey, their understanding of the Bible, their struggles and their triumphs. When I face challenges, I ask for prayer. I feel connected and supported by the group. The group makes the challenges seem smaller and the triumphs so much sweeter.”