By Ricky Poon
Yu Cai hails from Yantai, formerly known as Chefoo, a port city in Shandong Province in northeast China. Yantai served as the base of Canadian Presbyterian missionaries Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth when they first arrived in China in 1888. In his book Shandong: The Revival Province Paul Hattaway writes, “The Goforths’ ministry was revolutionized after they read reports of the Welsh Revival and the Azusa Street Revival in California in the early twentieth century. News of these awakenings caused the Goforths to seek God more fervently, and they felt their work had lacked the kind of power and fruitfulness God desired.” The Goforths subsequently participated in great revivals in Korea, Manchuria, and Shandong in the early 1900s. The impacts are felt to this day.
Yu Cai, which means “colorful jade” in Chinese, met her American husband, Jerry Rust, when he taught English in Yantai and she was working as a communications-industry professional. They soon fell in love. After they were married, the couple returned to Jerry’s home in the U.S. near the coastal town of Florence, Oregon. About 15 years ago my wife, Irene, and I first met Yu Cai and Jerry during one of the Friday night fellowship meetings at the Eugene Chinese Christian Church. It was about the time I retired from my engineering career and was attending seminary and serving as a pastoral intern. Our church had a tradition of having families bring food for a potluck dinner before small group Bible studies. Chinese college students loved it because it gave them a feeling of home, and I am sure Yu Cai felt the same way. Irene and others shared the good news of Jesus with Yu Cai, but she remained resistant. After a while, she and Jerry stopped coming to church and we saw them infrequently.
Yu Cai and Jerry are a very hospitable couple and would invite Chinese wives who married American husbands to their riverfront home to stay for a few days at a time. Irene and I also had a special burden for bi-racial couples whose marriages faced difficult struggles because of differences in language, culture, and values.
We lost touch for a time when Yu Cai returned to China for an extended stay. While there, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Treatment and drugs would have been very expensive in China, so she returned to the United States around the fall of 2020. During that time, Yu Cai suffered from excruciating headaches. She had to use a walking cane to maintain her balance even in taking short steps. On a few occasions, Irene and I would drive from Eugene to Florence so that Irene could serve as Yu Cai’s interpreter during doctor’s appointments. Her doctor had to drive from Eugene to Florence as well. This was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. During that very trying time, unknown to Irene and me, Yu Cai was moved by the Spirit to participate in the online prayer meetings and worship services of a Chinese church in California.
Then one day my former pastor in Portland, Oregon, called me and told me that some ladies from a Chinese church he knew of in California had asked if he could go to Florence to baptize a Chinese woman who had lung cancer. Because of the long distance, my pastor asked if I would be willing to perform the baptism instead. Of course I was honored to be asked and gladly agreed. It was then that we found out the Chinese woman wanting to be baptized was Yu Cai.
Yu Cai told us that the church ladies in California prayed that her headaches would desist and almost immediately they were gone. Yu Cai was filled with joy over the miraculous healing. Subsequently, she believed and accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and wanted very much to be baptized. After I explained the significance of baptism to her and prayed with her, we set the date of Sunday, November 1, 2020, for the baptism at their home on the river.
November 1 turned out to be a beautiful morning. Irene and I praised God as we drove over that familiar road from Eugene to Florence. As we arrived at the couple’s home, the deep affection that Jerry has for Yu Cai was clearly evident. With the help of technology, we held a baptismal service online so Yu Cai’s sisters in Christ from California could be present. After Yu Cai gave her testimony, I baptized her by aspersion (sprinkling). Irene and I presented Yu Cai her baptismal certificate and a special card we designed for the occasion. On the card are words of encouragement for her from Romans 8:37-39 (ESV), even as she has been an encouragement to us:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
At the end of May 2021, Yu Cai returned to Yantai to be cared for by her family there. It is difficult for her to read, but she has an audio Chinese Bible at her bedside at all times. The separation has been difficult for Jerry, but praise God, he was finally able to get a 60-day single-entry visa to China and hopes to soon be joining Yu Cai after a two-week quarantine upon arrival in Guangzhou. We have asked him to take some gifts for Yu Cai.
We continue to pray for Yu Cai’s physical healing, but we know that the Lord Jesus has healed her spiritually. I know that one of the reasons she returned to China is to share the good news of Jesus with her family members.
Jonathan Goforth concluded his book By My Spirit with these words:
But, brethren, the Spirit of God is with us still. Pentecost is yet within our grasp. If revival is being withheld from us it is because some idol remains still enthroned; because we still insist in placing our reliance in human schemes; because we still refuse to face the unchangeable truth that “it is not by might, but BY MY SPIRIT.”
In Yu Cai, we see someone who has placed her trust totally in Jesus. She has returned to Yantai with a ministry of healing. We pray that she will experience in a deeper way the love of the Father, the peace of the Son, and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result, a revival will begin with her.
About the Author
Ricky Poon is a credentialed minister of Open Bible Churches. He is the retired pastor of the Eugene-Springfield Chinese Christian Church and continues to preach the word of God in Chinese speaking churches in the Pacific Northwest. Currently he serves as the assistant dean of Chinese Ministries of Inste Global Bible College (IGBC) and is a member of its board of directors.