When my parents sent me out of China to attend Pyeng Yang Foreign School in what is now North Korea, I had what some might call a crisis of faith, although that sounds a bit grand for a 13-year-old’s first doubts.
Perhaps the crisis resulted from what seemed like unanswered prayer. I had begged God (and my parents) to let me go home–without success. Or it might have been spiritual growing pains, like that of a young man who went to a delightfully sane bishop to confess he had lost his faith.
“Nonsense,” replied the bishop. “You’ve lost your parents’ faith. Now go out and get one of your own.”
I knew that God had sent Jesus to die for mankind’s sins, but somehow I did not feel included. There were so many people in the world and I was only one, and, let’s face it, not a very significant one at that. I prayed for forgiveness and felt nothing. I wasn’t even sure He was listening.
Finally, in desperation, I went to my ever-practical sister, Rosa, and asked her advice.
“I don’t know what to tell you to do,” she replied matter-of-factly, “unless you take some verse and put your own name in. See if that helps.”
So I picked up my Bible and turned to Isaiah 53, one of my favorite chapters. I did just what she suggested. I read, “He was wounded for [Ruth's] transgressions, he was bruised for [Ruth's] iniquities: the chastisement of [Ruth's] peace was upon him; and with his stripes [Ruth is] healed” (Isaiah 53:5, KJV).
I knew then that I was included.