What I Learned: Abundance In Scarcity

Editor’s note: At the end of each month, the editorial team shares a brief wrap-up of how that month’s content encouraged and challenged us.

This month, Denine Blevins of Parakaleo wrote how circumstances in her life have helped her remember that God uses even famine to do his work within us. Famine gradually shifts our focus from exterior markers of success to internal transformation and to the sustenance of God’s word, and ultimately reminds us that one day, we will indeed feast in the house of the Lord.


About a month ago, a medical condition forced me to make a choice: drastically change my diet, or take medication for the rest of my life. For someone who grew up thinking bacon was a food group, switching to a plant-based diet felt like death to me. All the foods I’d never get to eat again flashed before my eyes.  How would I ever survive without sugar-laden chai tea lattes and lasagna?

My wise doctor advised me to shift my focus from all the foods I couldn’t eat to all the new foods I could. That subtle change in perspective led to a newfound joy in healthy eating. What I once experienced as famine began to feel like feasting.

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“What I once experienced as famine began to feel like feasting.

Famine, by definition, is associated with a shortage or lack. My relatively trivial example teaches me a broader spiritual principle: by God’s grace, we can feast in times of perceived famine. As I reflect on the resilient hope found in this month’s blog posts from my sisters in Christ, Chan Kailiang and Ma Xiaochen, I was encouraged by how both women discovered abundance during times of scarcity. The famine they experienced ultimately led them to feast.


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Famine shifts our focus from ideal circumstances to a transformed heart.

Sister Chan Kailiang writes in her blog post A Person of Confidence, “Although my lips prayed, my heart was focused on hopelessly waiting for God to change my circumstances. The yearning and concern of my heart was focused on how to quickly alter the situation, not on a desire for God himself.”

As someone who struggles with the idol of control, uncertainty and patience are unwelcome friends. I much prefer to make a plan, plug it into a spreadsheet, and show up prepared for whatever test God has in store. Chan Kailiang goes on to praise the Lord who loves her on her most unlovable days and who knows that she has “received the smile of God.” She writes, “Today, I am no longer a woman who waits in desperation, but a person of confidence.” Her waiting is not over. Yet praise pours forth from her lips and her heart today because of what the Lord has done in her. She began to feast on God’s goodness in the middle of her trial – not afterwards.

I’ll likely have to deal with my health struggle for the rest of my life, and taking medication may end up being the best option. My situation may not change, but it’s certainly changing me.

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“Her waiting is not over. Yet praise pours forth from her lips and her heart today because of what the Lord has done in her. She began to feast on God’s goodness in the middle of her trial – not afterwards.

Oh Lord, help me to bear testimony of your grace, even before the test is over!

Famine leads us to rediscover the sweetness of God’s word.

My doctor helped me replace the foods my body craved with the foods my body needed. Many of our cravings in this world–approval, financial prosperity, even ministry success–can distract us from the satisfying word of God. 

In her blog Dry Life Rejuvenated, Sister Ma Xiaochen writes, “Twenty years ago, I nearly died from a severe illness. But I thank the Lord for keeping me alive by reliance on his word. I have deeply tasted the preciousness of God’s word.” At death’s door, with no worldly snacks to satisfy, Xiao Hong was filled by the living word. We awake every morning with demands for our attention. Our sister’s words remind us that the enemy uses ordinary life to distract us from feasting with our Father.

Great Shepherd, you prepare a feast for us in the presence of our enemies. (Psalm 23:5). Help us to trust you with the demands of the day as we drink deeply from your word.

Famine reminds us we were not made for this.

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“We live in a world where good and evil coexist, but one day that tension will be resolved by a God of justice…In community, we can come to God’s table to feast together and await his glorious return.

I was particularly intrigued by the fact that both Ma Xiaochen and Chan Kailiang are married to pastors. We often expect spiritual leaders to have it all together, and pastors’ wives are no exception. As Executive Director of Parakaleo, I’ve witnessed the transformative effect on women in church planting (including wives) when they have access to gospel tools and community. Through our collaboration with two Chinese women who facilitate these spaces, women like Ma Xiaochen and Chan Kailiang can process their blocked longings in the context of God’s bigger story of grace.

As our sisters’ testimonies remind us, we live in a world where good and evil coexist, but one day that tension will be resolved by a God of justice. Until then, we can lament, embrace our limitations, repent, and ask for help (even pastors’ wives!). In community, we can come to God’s table to feast together and await his glorious return.


Denine Blevins serves as the Executive Director of Parakaleo, which builds gospel-based resilience in women in church planting. She lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband Robert and her attention-demanding dog Sydney.

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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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