My name is Naomi, and I am an ordinary young woman who had a plan for her life and thought she knew what she wanted. Several years ago, if you had told me that I would be serving the Lord in China I would have said, “Impossible.” My story is one that illuminates the awesomeness of God and His love for us – regardless of where we are in life.
As a child I grew up with two loving, Christian parents who taught me to treasure Jesus with my whole heart. As I entered my teenage and college years, I gradually pulled away from the church and the Christian faith all together. Sadly, my life was characterized by seeking my own desires whenever and with whomever I wanted.
In March of 2013, I was approached by a dear friend to accompany her on a Joni and Friends Cause4Life Internship to serve orphans with disabilities at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village in China. Although the idea of using my degree in sports medicine and pediatric rehabilitation was appealing, I turned down the invitation. In fact, I declined several times. Simply put, China was not in my plans for my future.
However, our Lord had a different idea.
As weeks passed I couldn’t get China out of my head. This relentless persistence convinced me that I needed to go on the outreach trip. We arrived at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village, and immediately I felt at peace. I can still vividly remember meeting two orphans, Kennedy and Liam, for the first time. My heart had never felt such love and compassion before – I melted at the sight of their joy-filled smiles and marveled at their loving hearts, open to a complete stranger like me. This overwhelming love and joy grabbed me, and has yet to let go. I can see so clearly now how God used these kids to show me my need for a Savior and reveal His everlasting love for me.
My life was so deeply impacted by my time in China that I decided to serve as a Cause4Life intern for a second year. Both of my internships made me realize how much I didn’t know myself, and how much Jesus did.
He knew that I would fall in love with China and its people, and He knew my destiny long before I was even born. Using my professional training to serve Christ and children with special needs has been a dream come true. It is like no other job I have ever had. I am so thankful that I have been able to play a small role in the impact that God is making in China.
My time in China with Joni and Friends influenced me so deeply that I decided to remain at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village as their intern. I have now been in China for over two years. Every day that I am here in China I am reminded of the miraculous power and awesomeness of our redeeming Lord and Savior. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
Naomi Preedin has served as the Physical Therapist at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village in Tianjin, China, for the last two years. She was first introduced to the beautiful special needs children at the orphanage through her service as a Cause 4 Life Mission Intern to China in 2013 and 2014. Naomi has a degree in sports medicine with an emphasis in pediatric orthopedic rehabilitation from Lewis University in Illinois. She has also used her gifts to serve at several Joni and Friends Family Retreats. God has given her a supernatural love for children with special needs through her development as a physical therapist. Naomi plans to continue serving at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village in China for the next two years.
This blog originally appeared under the title A Changed Heart on the Cause4Life blog on August 4, 2014.