“Through the Limitations”

Today’s post was written by Buck Salem, one of the international ministry staff members at CCH. For most of the last year Buck has been doing one-on-one English Bible studies with between 20 and 30 international scholars every week. In this post Buck will share how God not only uses prosperity and advantage to complete His work, but also tragedy and limitation.


My name is Buck Salem, and I, more than most people, should understand that God seeks to use difficulty and limitation to His advantage. This is because I am almost entirely blind in both eyes. And yet, the truth is, I still am far from fully grasping how common God’s use of such things are. God has told us explicitly that He uses all things to complete his purposes, but we are still sometimes surprised when He really does use “all things.” 


In late January I received some messages from one of my most devoted Christian students. In this post I will call her L. She came to Christ in the United States in 2018 and then moved back to Northeast China where her relationship with God has continued to grow. In the messages, she told me that she suddenly realized that the first couple weeks of February might be her husband’s best shot at hearing and understanding the Gospel. She explained that due to the Corona Virus her husband, J, would be staying home from the office for the first part of February and would, for perhaps the only moment in the foreseeable future, have enough time to study the Bible daily with someone. L insisted that her husband had, in the past, been somewhat dismissive when she tried to share her faith but that if someone else shared, he might listen. She said she was determined to take full advantage of this opportunity. She essentially told me that if I couldn’t teach him over the next couple of weeks, she was going to find someone who could. I assured her that I would do my best to help. 


Over the following 2 1/2 weeks I called J daily at 6:30 AM (8:30 PM China time). We read through most of the Gospel of John as well as portions of Matthew and Luke in an English Children’s Bible used for students with limited English proficiency. As the meetings went along, I thought about how God was probably redeeming this tragedy in many people’s lives, just as he was using it to provide an opportunity for J to hear the Gospel.  Yet, I also started to feel the effects of another issue, namely, my own personal limitations.


For whatever reason, as the meetings with J went on, I started feeling as though I was approaching the end of my rope. As we neared the end of the Gospels, J did not seem any closer to belief than when we started. I am, of course, used to this kind of response; however, this time the whole situation felt more taxing and discouraging than usual. I was so emotionally invested.  J was the husband of my close friend and sister in Christ. I was at a loss to know what to do. J was still open to meeting, but I didn’t know how much longer I could keep it up. Although I didn’t anticipate it, God had a plan to redeem this limitation of mine as well. I felt that God was leading me to reach out for help. I thought that He might want me to ask another new-ish believer named V so I called V and explained the situation to her.


I told her that although she had only been studying the Bible for a year, she had a knack for understanding Scripture and that if she joined J and I she could be a huge help, not only in translating difficult concepts to Chinese, but also in explaining God’s Word herself.  What happened next was a beautiful thing to behold. V was very excited for the opportunity to help teach God’s Word–as well as a little nervous! I told her that soon she would be teaching on her own and guiding someone else on how to do the same. 

As I have started meeting together with J and V, it is not yet clear what the ultimate result will be, but God has certainly used this situation in a powerful way.  He has reminded me of how He chooses to work. As we go along in this time of tragedy and limitations I pray for all of us to notice His use of all things to complete his purposes in our lives. 


Father God, please be with those reading this blog as they are burdened with the present tragedy and as they reach the end of their ropes. Reveal to them the ways in which you are redeeming this situation. Lead them to seek help in the body of Christ when they feel at a loss. Thank you for your incredible love and presence with us always.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Buck Salem – International Ministry