By: Jasmine Greenbay-IMB
In a small town near Madrid, Spain, a missionary couple, Walker and Becca Welch, walked around a university hoping to meet Chinese students and share the gospel. Usually, the town’s university hosts more than 300 Chinese exchange students every year. Unfortunately, due to COVID 19, the Welches have had few opportunities so far this year to get to know them.
While the couple walked, however, they noticed a small hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant. Menu photos were taped to the windows, displaying their specialties, and a sign with the words “Momma’s Kitchen” hung on the outside — a fitting name for a Chinese food place trying to attract homesick exchange students.
Hoping to find out if students gathered there, the Welches stepped inside and were met by two restaurant owners, a man and a woman. The man excitedly showed the couple a menu, eager for them to order more than they intended. The woman — Ms. Zhao* — however, sat at a table near the entrance, staring at her phone and scarcely acknowledging the new customers.
After the man left to prepare the food, Becca looked around the small facility.
Chinese-themed decorations covered the walls, giving the dining area an authentic feel. Traditional sauces and chopsticks lay on the tables, paired with salt and pepper shakers to complete the typical restaurant set-up. An L-shaped bar stood near the front along with the kitchen, where the man was cooking their food. Numerous tables and chairs extended from the entrance all the way to the back, but the Welches didn’t spot any other customers. This didn’t perplex them, though, as Spaniards usually ate lunch much later in the day.
After preparing their order, the cheerful waiter returned with steaming Chinese food in to-go boxes and began to engage in friendly conversation.
When Walker and Becca asked how business was with no Chinese students around, he explained that though it had only been running for less than a year, Momma’s Kitchen planned to close the following Sunday due to a lack of their primary customers. In fact, the Welches were the only customers that week — and it was already Tuesday.
Recognizing an opportunity to share their faith, the missionaries pulled out their last Chinese Bible and Walker offered it to their waiter. On seeing the book, Ms. Zhao’s attitude entirely changed. She stood up and asked with glowing excitement, “Can I go to church with you?”
Her sudden enthusiasm took the couple by surprise. They had never seen such a positive response to the gospel like that in Spain before.
“Of course!” they answered her. As the four began to talk, Walker and Becca started asking questions and sharing the gospel in more detail, enthralled by Ms. Zhao’s incredible change of face. Miraculously, the waitress’s demeanor continued to brighten throughout the conversation.
As they continued to visit with Ms. Zhao and her colleague, they learned that Jehovah’s Witnesses and other similar groups had visited her previously and shared their version of the gospel with her. She wasn’t persuaded by them.
When she finally understood the true gospel, however, she wanted to dedicate her life to Christ. Becca joyfully led her in a prayer of faith.
After parting with their new sister in Christ, the Welches visited Momma’s Kitchen that following Friday, before the restaurant closed, and brought another Chinese Bible for Ms. Zhao. Since then, Becca has continued to be in contact with Ms. Zhao, hoping to keep up with this new believer.
Please pray that her new faith in Jesus will take root in Ms. Zhao’s heart and that she will find a Chinese church to join and grow in. Ask that she be protected from false teaching. Please also lift up Ms. Zhao’s business partner and pray that the Lord will lead him to accept Christ as well.
*Name changed for security
Jasmine Greenbay* serves as a communications intern in East Asia.