My shepherd is written by Yanzhen Pan, a friend, and sister in my small group. Her post is a part of our series on Encountering God by Name.
Ever since we came to the United States from China, our family has moved around a lot because of my husband’s postgraduate study and jobs. We have lived in 4 states and many residencies in all these years. In Houston, Texas alone, we moved and lived in 5 places during our 15 years there. Often the reason for moving was because of an increase in our rent or a good school district for the kids. But these moves gave me not only the opportunities to experience each state’s culture and people, but it also greatly enriched my personal experience in encountering God.
The Shepherd loved me when I didn’t know him
During the earlier years, I didn’t know Jesus, not even God. But God loved me already.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 NLT.
Physically, we had a few suitcases and other possessions we brought from China at the beginning but now we have everything we need for our daily life. Spiritually, I have grown from my ignorance of God to admit Jesus as my LORD. Through each move and adjustment to a new environment, God was there with me and my family.
During our first year in the United States, we moved from California to Michigan during a cold February. We did not have a car, and it seemed it was always snowing in Michigan. The loneliness and uncertainty of the future caused anxiety in my heart.
I don’t remember how we heard of the International Student Fellowship group, which met every Friday night to spread the love of God to international students and scholars new to the area. My son and I were picked up to the gathering every Friday night. Sometimes there was a party in one of the leader’s home.
At one party, I met Jennifer, and we became good friends. She invited me to her home and sometimes we went out for tea in the evening while my husband watched my son. I didn’t know if Jennifer was a Christian then, but her presence and friendship during that cold winter made me feel loved. We moved to Houston, Texas after a year and a half later.
Not long after we arrived in Houston, I took my son and visited churches in the hope to find someone like Jennifer. After seven years of attending several churches on and off, God not only led me to find “Jennifer” in a church and He led me to find Jesus!
After 15 years in Texas, we moved again to North Carolina. Many things happened in these years while we moved around, but God followed us everywhere even when our intention or focus was not on Him. He did not let me go until He did what He promised: to give me a permanent home!
Although our family is planning another job-related relocation now, I know my heart has settled in the green pastures of Jesus Christ no matter where we move. The LORD is my shepherd!
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right
paths forhis name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3 NIV
Further Encouragement: Ezekiel 34:11-16, John 10:14-18, Isaiah 53:6-7
Yanzhen loves Jesus and stays home now to serve God in the home front and community small bible study group.