Have you ever known someone who could march up to the gates of hell and spit in Satan’s face? Jolly, (pronounced Joe-Lee) comes about as close as anyone you could ever hope to meet.
Since the 1860s, women have served as pastors and evangelists in the Chinese church. Even in Hong Kong, where Jolly lives, the Chinese church still relies to some extent on female pastors — Bible women. As Jolly’s desire was to serve full time, it was always her goal to be a full-time Bible woman. But when she expressed this desire to her church, many were not supportive. Jolly had become a Christian only a month or so earlier. As they saw it, she couldn’t possibly know enough about being a Christian yet to make that kind of decision. So she let it go.
A few years later Jolly had a new pastor, MohkSee. He was president of a seminary where students were encouraged to fulfill their Christian service requirements by evangelizing in China. He also recruited evangelists from his church. Jolly volunteered to go to China, where she was outspoken and fearless in sharing her testimony and urging people to believe in Christ. Still, she felt her lack of training.
While working with her pastor in China, two things impressed Jolly: the Chinese people’s extreme need for the Gospel and the love MohkSee, an American missionary, had for the Chinese people. Jolly felt if a foreigner could love her people enough to risk preaching to them, she could certainly follow his example.
Dreams and Barriers
Even with MohkSee’s example, coupled with encouragement from the many who recognized her talent and pressed her to attend seminary, Jolly felt there were several barriers to fulfilling her dream of being a Bible woman: Her family finances were not great; she had a good job, but her aging parents also needed financial support; she was over 30 and felt she was a bit too old for school; she was afraid she had neither the strength nor the aptitude for studies, and her memory wasn’t the best when it came to exams.
Considering things from a purely human perspective, Jolly felt she had no hope of succeeding in seminary, nor did she believe she could be very useful to God in the advancement of His Kingdom. She simply had no faith in her own abilities, and the promise that God’s strength would be sufficient never occurred to her.
Across the World
Every missionary takes home leave, but not every missionary gets to take a local evangelist home with him. When Jolly found out MohkSee and his family would be in the States for a few months, she quit her job in order to accompany them. For her, it was a vacation, but because Jolly had been very active in China evangelism with MohkSee, he asked her to share her experiences in the churches they visited.
Each Sunday more American Christians unknowingly joined the many Chinese Christians who had already been encouraging her to attend seminary. Hearing the Americans voice their own optimism on the matter made a huge impact on her, directing her thoughts once again towards the possibility she might serve full time.
However, she wasn’t quite ready to believe God could use her in full-time Christian service.
The Proof is in the Fishing
One evening, while walking along a pier on Florida’s Atlantic coast, Jolly and her friends encountered two fishermen whose buckets were empty. One man was on their left, the other on their right. They had both been there for a few hours, and both were ready to call it quits. Jolly observed them for a bit, then presented God with a plan to clearly show her if He wanted her to attend seminary.
“God, if you want me to attend seminary, then let the man on my left catch fish, and the one on my right not catch any fish,” she silently prayed.
Immediately, the man on her left pulled in a good sized fish. Then he hooked another. Then another. For as long as she stood there watching, the man on her left could not stop pulling in fish after fish. Soon he called to his wife to bring another bucket.
And the man on her right continued to catch nothing.
Some People Take a Lot of Convincing
A few weeks later, while driving through Georgia in the early evening, MohkSee pointed out a deer. Then MohkSee’s wife, SeeMoh, also saw one. Jolly really wanted to see a deer, too, but from where she sat in the back seat, she just couldn’t see any. She decided this must be her chance to prove once and for all that God wanted her to attend seminary.
Again, without telling anyone, she prayed that if God really wanted her to serve Him full time, she would also see a deer.
But she never saw a single one.
Back in Hong Kong, Jolly quickly found another job. However, she was unsettled. So she went to MohkSee, to talk to him about her dilemma.
“I have no peace about this job,” she told him. “What I really want to do is go to seminary.”
“That’s what I want for you, too,” he answered. “I was waiting for you to say something first. I didn’t want to pressure you into something.”
But something was bothering Jolly.
“While we were in America, I really wanted to see a deer,” she explained. “I thought if I could see a deer, then I would know that God wanted me to go to seminary.” She had not as yet said anything to anyone about her prayer concerning the fishermen.
“I saw a deer,” MohkSee answered. “You can count my seeing one because you were with us at the time.” Still unsure, Jolly went to SeeMoh.
“I also saw a deer,” SeeMoh reminded Jolly. And that did it.
Jolly accepted the two deer sitings as a second answered prayer and enrolled in seminary.
A Dream Realized
In seminary, and later during her church internship, Jolly had no time to return to China. But she was working toward serving her people in full-time, Christian service, which was the most important thing to her. But then she began working with a church in Hong Kong, which gave her no opportunity to serve in China. Churches didn’t have the resources to support her in a dual ministry in Hong Kong and in mainland China.
There was also a fear that any Hong Kong church involved in China evangelism would be blacklisted by the Chinese government. After 1997, when China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong, churches were especially sensitive to the fears and restrictions of the central government. That meant no church in Hong Kong would support Jolly working inside mainland China.
But by 2003, there were many mainland Chinese people living in Hong Kong. It was as if mainland China were coming to Hong Kong for the Gospel, and Jolly wanted to evangelize the immigrants. However, her church was wary of this first group of immigrants. Most came with no jobs, no prospect of a job and therefore no income, and many churches felt they would simply become leeches on the Christians, devouring all their resources.
But Jolly was willing to face those fears. She was still a Bible woman, working to bring her people to the Lord. That was all she lived for.
Rheumatoid Arthritis to the Rescue
Jolly spent five years in her first Hong Kong ministry before becoming so ill she had to give up her position. After medication and adequate rest, she returned to China evangelism for a brief time before a second Hong Kong church called her to serve, once again curtailing her efforts inside China.
Five years later, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) invaded her body. Flare after flare kept her in and out of the hospital, making it impossible for her to continue working. But the pain and immobility did not keep her from sharing her faith. Patients in the hospital wards with her soon heard the Gospel and gave their lives to the Lord.
Eventually, Jolly took a part-time position with a third Hong Kong church. Her doctors had insisted she only work part time, hoping to lessen the frequency and duration of the RA flares. It didn’t help. She continued to have flares, but they didn’t keep Jolly from evangelizing. During her last hospitalization, she led her roommate to the Lord.
While the painful flareups did not diminish Jolly’s passion for evangelism, she did have to step down from her third Hong Kong church.
Because the painful, crippling disease forced her to quit her job, Jolly finally has time to return to her first area of ministry in Mainland China. As long as she gets plenty of rest in between efforts, she still manages to fulfill her goals as a Bible woman. After recovering from her latest flare, Jolly accompanied MohkSee and SeeMoh to a leprosy village in China, where she led several people to Christ. These days she works primarily in China instead of Hong Kong.
From her first evangelistic trip to China, Jolly has been an unstoppable force for the Gospel wherever she finds herself. Nothing, not even a painful, crippling disease, stops her from sharing the love of Jesus with anyone who is willing to listen. And she has learned to follow the Lord’s leading.
Even when He speaks to her through a whole mess of fish.