“Humming Our Testimonies,” Ensign, June 1996, 56–57
My interpreter, my wife, and I were on a minibus waiting to leave the city of Yanti, Shandong Province, in the People’s Republic of China. We were there on business, traveling south to a beautiful coastal city. Just when we were about to depart, a friendly Chinese man boarded the bus and sat right next to us.
Through my interpreter, I asked him his name. We shook hands, and he said he was going to a conference. He looked at my wife, then at me, and asked, through our interpreter, “Are you Christians?”
My wife, Diane, told him we were. He said he was too and showed us a well-worn copy of the New Testament. We smiled but dared not say anything more about it, for at this time in the People’s Republic of China, all forms of proselyting were prohibited and discussion between Chinese and foreigners was strongly discouraged.
The bus moved, and we were on our way. Suddenly I heard someone humming a song. I looked to my left; my wife looked to her right. We saw that our new Chinese acquaintance, eyes closed, was humming a melody and tapping a beat with his hand.
I quietly asked Diane, “What is he humming?” She answered that he was singing “Amazing Grace.”
Soon Diane joined him in his humming. Once they had finished the song, the passenger looked up directly at us. Diane immediately understood that he was trying to communicate his religious feelings to us.
Now it was Diane’s turn. She began to sing “Onward, Christian Soldiers” (Hymns, no. 246) and as soon as she started, he nodded his head affirmatively and hummed all the verses with her.
For two and one-half hours, with scarcely a pause, Diane and our newly discovered Chinese brother hummed and sang together songs of Jesus Christ. Near the end of the ride, I whispered to Diane, “Bear your testimony.” She nodded and began singing:
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
(Hymns, no. 193)
After Diane finished her testimony, our friend quietly and most reverently shared his testimony in return as he hummed:
I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living Head.
(Hymns, no. 136)
As the Spirit entered that minibus to bear witness of these songs of testimony, I suddenly realized we were an answer to this man’s prayers. We had been guided to confirm his belief in God and in Jesus Christ.
Time was passing so quickly. The feeling that existed among the three of us had become centered on the love we shared for our Savior. I wondered where our friend had found such a love for Christ in this country that had so few Christians among its billion-plus population.
Our van came to the brow of a hill, and below us we could see our final destination. As Diane sensed our visit was ending, she quickly began to hum “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” (Hymns, no. 152). And for the last time, this man of faith joined in with tears in his eyes, his hand always tapping the rhythm on his knee.
The bus stopped. The door slid open, and our friend stood up. We warmly shook hands, and he stepped out into the morning light.
I was renewed that day in my commitment to be a disciple of Christ in all places. When we got back to our home in the city of Tianjin, Diane and I opened our Bible to Colossians 3:16 [Col. 3:16], and I read aloud Paul’s words: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”