Faith, Hope, and Love in a Foreign Heritage Language

Photo Credit: Chris Liu on Unsplash

As someone who grew up resisting my Chinese heritage and language, I think a lot about what could have been different to change my prior perspective.  I have fond memories of my late parents sharing stories about their life in China.

Otherwise, my Chinese-related childhood memories are often associated with heartache.  I wonder – what if my parents had the means and know-how to create fun and positive Chinese learning environment?

Instead, Chinese was the language that we fought with at home.  It was the language in which I received criticism.  We had little faith, hope, and love in this language.

In addition, many factors were out of their control:

Looks from people in our non-diverse community…

Racist comments from mean kids at school…

And everybody spoke English.

These external realities would have put the brakes on any motivation to speak Chinese.  As such, I could not see any positive value for being and learning Chinese outside of my home.

Although Chinese is my heritage, the words and culture were foreign and tainted with strife.

Finding faith, hope, and love in a foreign heritage language

When my daughter was 2, I suddenly had a strong compulsion to learn Chinese with her.  At that time, we spoke only English together.  I had not spoken Chinese in years, and I forgot almost everything I learned when I was young.

Through prayer, God led us on this Chinese learning journey.  Although our family has had no immediate need to use Chinese and the obstacles are countless, the effort is for a higher purpose.

Our Chinese learning journey has been a means of forgiveness to my parents and myself.  It is love for God’s creation, for how he made us.  When I put all of my faith in Him, fears begin to melt, and I can see that He has plan.

I think of all the people who have approached me in the past (eg, patients, foreign exchange students, tourists, etc.) who assumed and hoped that I could speak Chinese.  They asked me for help, but I could not say much to them at the time.

My children and I are still far from fluent, and we have so much to learn.  But I pray that my kids and I can connect with more people and spread positivity through the gift of language.

Related: Redefining Mother’s Day with My Parents’ Language

愛中無懼

When I came across the above photo, I was drawn to the verse on the white bookmark:

愛中無懼 / 爱中无惧 (Ài zhōng wú jù / Fearless in love).

I asked my auntie to help me translate it, and she explained:

心中有愛,就不會害怕 / 心中有爱,就不会害怕 (Xīnzhōng yǒu ài, jiù bù huì hàipà / With love, there is no fear.)

Another Chinese-speaking mom explained that this is from 1 John 4:18  愛裡沒有懼怕 / 爱里没有惧怕 (Ài lǐ méiyǒu jùpà / There is no fear in love.)

Explore this: 12 Bible Verses on Faith and Parenting in English, Chinese, and Korean

God is good all the time

More encouraging Bible verses

When I look left and right and see our performance-driven world, I get overwhelmed and distracted by worldly goals.  So when I need encouragement, I try to redirect my attention and look up.

Although I am inspired by this bilingual list of wise Chinese sayings, Bible verses breathe faith and focus on God.

Here are motivating Bible verses from NIV (New International Version):

  1. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. -Corinthians 12:9
  2. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Philippians 4:6
  3. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. -Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:8‬
  4. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans‬ ‭15:13‬
  5. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13

More Christian resources for families

Faith-inspired books for children

Christian crafts

Chinese Christian music for children

Praying for you, friends!

 

5 Comments

  1. Wow! Thank you for your heartfelt sharing and indeed, 有耶稣的爱就不用惧怕! Praying God will continue to use your family in ways beyond imagination! Blessings Angie

  2. Hello Betty, Your story is so touching. Indeed, God is sovereign and works all things out for our good and His glory. I just came upon your blog as I was searching for Chinese children’s songs to share with my grandson as I will have the blessing of being with him for the month of June. A native Cantonese speaker from Hong Kong, I was exposed to a lot of Mandarin as a child going to church with many visiting pastors who preached in Mandarin. As the interpreter translated the sermon phrase by phrase, I began to understand Mandarin and figured out how the two dialects were systematically different. Your story encourages me to try to learn and teach my grandson Mandarin even if I’m not fluent. Thank you so much for all the work you’ve done for our encouragement and benefit. I’m so looking forward to having my grandson be part of our church life for a few weeks and exposing him to Reformed worship in reverence and awe. My prayer is that above all else, God might grant me the blessing of impacting my him spiritually. He’s the same age as your son! God bless you and your family!!
    Shan

    1. Dear Shan,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write this heartfelt message and sharing your family’s story. I share the same prayer as you! As long as we can guide our children’s generation to Christ-filled living and serving! Many blessings to your wonderful family!

      Betty

  3. Hi! I’m Taiwanese American married to a Caucasian man raising a 3-year-old daughter in the Chicagoland area. I am also a Christ follower and a recent homeschool mom. I believe God led me to your blog as I was researching Chinese New Year ideas (we celebrated Saturday, but I am extending some of the studies this week). I went to Chinese school for 10 years and sadly remember nothing. I only started valuing my culture and heritage after having my daughter as I am pretty “banana”. I never thought I would even have a desire to stumble on a page like yours, but here I am. Thank you for being a resource for people like me!

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