Recently in my study, I came across the life of Christiana Tsai (1890-1984) and I was blessed by her testimony. Christina was one of twenty-one siblings born to a Chinese ruling family. She enjoyed a life of luxury, privilege, and isolation, almost never venturing outside the walls of her family’s palace. However, during her high school years she was sent to a boarding school that was run by missionaries from America.
At school, young Christina heard the Gospel and was drawn to Jesus. When she told her parents that she had become a Christian and been baptized she was basically disowned. Her father said, “You have disgraced your family, by eating the Christian religion.” Then she was given a bag that contained a rope, a knife and an ultimatum – “Renounce the Christian faith or choose between the rope to hang yourself or the knife to stab yourself.”
Christiana went into hiding, but she was eventually discovered by her brother. The hostile sibling not only berated Christiana, but he tore up her Bible and threw her hymnbook in her face. But curiosity got the best of the brother. He came back to Christiana inquiring why she decided to trust in Christ. He remarked, “You do seem much happier than you used to be.”
Eventually, Christina led her brother to Christ and 55 of her extended family as well! In 1930, she was stricken with malaria, which left her debilitated. She became sensitive to light and noise, and she remained confined to a dark room from 1931 until her death in 1984. But Christina did not let her infirmity limit her ministry. She prayed that God would give her favor and use her suffering for His glory.
What happened next can only be explained by the supernatural work of God. Word got out in China that there was a sick woman who lived in darkness but knew how to lead people to the Light of the World. Over the years, thousands of people came in search of Christiana, and she was able to lead them to Jesus. From that dark, little room she wrote pamphlets and essays that were distributed, which had a great impact upon intellectuals and seekers.
She became widely known as “Queen of the Dark Chamber.” She wrote, “My bed is not a prison, but a training school; the Holy Spirit is my mentor, and my visitors are my homework.” Amazingly, her autobiography, which she also wrote from her sickbed, was translated into 50 languages and in the English version Billy Graham wrote a preface recommendation!
What an incredible story of how the Lord used suffering in Christina’s life for a grand and higher purpose. Many times in life we don’t know why things happen, but one thing we can be certain of is that God knows how to use pain for gain. For example, Paul and Silas were imprisoned, yet God intervened in that situation for the salvation of the jailer and his family (Acts 16). Later on, the Lord used Paul’s suffering to write the letters that fill our New Testament, and we’ve all been blessed by them. Remember, God wastes nothing and our suffering may be used for the benefit of others! -DM