Food From Heaven
Li had been raised to worship idols. This was the way of life in his Chinese village in the 1800s. But when he was an old man, he heard about the one true loving God. He became a Christian and dedicated his life to helping others.
Li gave away all his possessions and opened a refuge for opium addicts. He wanted to help them break free from the bonds of their addictions. In return for his help the recovering addicts would give him a bit of food.
Li’s cousin was the priest in charge of the large temple of idols in the village. He worried about Li and often stopped by with a small loaf of bread. At these times Li would clap his hands and exclaim, “T’ien Fu tih en tien!” (This means “My heavenly Father’s grace!”) He meant that the gifts came through the care and kindness of God.
His cousin didn’t look at the situation that way at all. “Where does your heavenly Father’s grace come in, I’d like to know?” his cousin asked one day. “The bread is mine. I bring it to you. And if I didn’t, you would very soon starve for all God would care! He has nothing to do with it.”
“But it is my heavenly Father who puts it into your heart to care for me,” replied old Li.
“Oh, that’s all very well for you to say,” said the priest. “We shall see what happens if I bring bread no more!”
He stayed away for more than a week.
At this time the refuge was empty of addicts. Li had very little to eat. The day came when he had no food left. But he believed that his Father in heaven would not forget him.
Li knelt in prayer and asked for God’s blessing on his work and on the people around him. “Lord,” he prayed, “You heard what my cousin said. Please send me my daily bread, for the honor of Your own great name.”
Just as he finished praying, Li heard a commotion outside, and a thudding noise as if something had fallen to the ground. When he got up from his knees and went to look outside, he saw several ravens cawing and chasing one another directly overhead.
One of the ravens held a large piece of meat, which it had grabbed from an open butcher’s stall in town. The other ravens rushed at the bird, and it lost its grip. Plop! The meat fell right at Li’s feet!
“My heavenly Father’s grace!” sang out old Li as he picked it up. Then he looked around to see what he had heard falling earlier. He spied a large piece of bread that another raven had dropped.
Joyfully Li went inside and kindled a fire to prepare himself a meal. While his meat simmered in the pot, his door opened. To his great delight, in walked his cousin, the priest.
“Look and see!” said Li, smiling as he pointed to the cooking pot. The priest shook his head. There’s probably nothing in it but water! he thought scornfully. But soon a savory smell spread through the room, rousing his curiosity.
Finally Li’s cousin peeked inside the pot and was surprised to see the large piece of meat simmering there.
“Where did you get this?” he cried.
“My heavenly Father sent it,” replied Li. “He put it into your heart to bring me a little bread from time to time. But when you would do so no longer, it was quite easy for Him to find another messenger.” Then he told his cousin about his prayer and the coming of the ravens.
The priest was deeply moved when he heard how Li’s heavenly Father had cared for him. He was inspired to learn more about this loving God. And the more he learned, the more he believed. Before long he expressed his faith in Christ by baptism.
The priest gave up his comfortable life in the temple. He supported himself as a teacher and became a much-respected deacon of his church.
In 1900 the empress of China encouraged fighting against all the Europeans who had come into China. The war became known as the Boxer Rebellion. The priest was captured because he had adopted the faith of the Europeans. He was tortured until finally he laid down his life for Jesus’ sake. But he knew that he would receive his reward in heaven, along with his faithful cousin, Li, whose example had brought him to Jesus.