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and the Chinese Mafia

An Amazing Testimony by Maria T. Nagel


One year before God gave me the assignment to share the Gospel in China, I had a dream. In this dream someone had placed two babies in front of my doorstep. When I came out, I knew I was going to take care of them. One baby was tiny and the other one was large. I said to myself: “Who will help me take care of those two babies? In the next scene I started running, because I knew that I didn’t have much time. I was running to find food for the babies and bring it back to them as fast as possible. While I was racing, evil people tried to stop me so I wouldn’t succeed in giving the babies their food.” When I woke up, the Holy Spirit explained to me that the babies represented nations, He wanted me to work with.” I understood then that the smaller baby represented the Philippines and the larger baby represented China.

I went to China in the Winter of 2015. I had only shared my testimony with a handful of people. In the meantime a lot happened in my life. By the grace of God, I got married to a wonderful man and God blessed us with a new child. Last year December 2018, the Lord laid on my heart that it was time for my Philippines and China testimonies to be shared widely.

The testimony you are about to read, clearly shows that our amazing God doesn’t call the perfect and qualified. He trains and qualifies those He calls. Through faith in Jesus Christ EVERYTHING is possible.

May you be blessed by this testimony.

Maria T. Nagel | Vienna, Austria April 2019


In November 2015 I had a dream in which a beautiful voice was singing “Jesus Is My Strength” in Mandarin Chinese. The melody stayed with me the entire morning. I asked God why He had given me that song and what I was supposed to do with it. His answer came a few weeks later: I was to share the gospel with prostitutes in China.

Chapter One

Prostitutes Need Jesus Too

I must confess that this new assignment did not please me at all. Common sense told me that prostitutes had pimps and that both pimps and prostitutes worked for the Chinese mafia. Jesus responded to my fear by reminding me how He had protected me in the Philippines and reassured me that He would do the same in China.

“God, who should I go with?” I asked.

He replied simply, “I will go with you.”

– I will go with you –

Chapter Two

Jesus: The Free Gift

Although my lips had agreed to go to China by myself, part of me was still rebelling. So I did what every disobeying child would do: I argued.

I found four excellent reasons that I was the wrong person for this assignment:

  1. Why not take a Chinese or Taiwanese person—or anyone else fluent in Chinese?
  2. As a person of color, I am super visible! There was no chance of blending in with the crowd if I had to run or hide.
  3. What if one of the mafia pimps decided to kidnap me, ship me off somewhere in China, and sell me as his new exotic merchandise? The standard way of introducing me to customers would surely be “Who wants the black madame with funny hair? I make good price for you!”
  4. It was strictly forbidden in China to openly sell or distribute Christian materials. I could go to a Chinese prison for that.

I especially liked points 1, 2, 3, and 4!

Of course God was not impressed. And as expected, He had the perfect answer and plan: “Record a CD with Bible verses in Mandarin. The CD cover must be neutral. You will be in China around Christmastime, so you can present the CD as a free Christmas gift. Place the CD along with some candies in a plastic bag. It will be well received.”

Wow! I thought. How brilliant! God is full of wisdom and truly thinks of everything!

I had run out of arguments. The case was closed. I, the black exotic madame, would go undercover to China and infiltrate Jesus into the Chinese mafia.

– Ready to go! –

Chapter Three

Making the CD

The CD assignment awoke the desire in me to write new worship songs in Chinese. Although my basic Mandarin knowledge did not permit me to write complex lyrics, by God’s grace and leading I wrote five songs. The lyrics were about pain, hope, freedom, and God. A Chinese friend looked over the lyrics and listened to my Chinese pronunciation. Apart from a few mistakes, she was happy with the overall outcome.

I wanted nothing but a violin to accompany my singing voice. A Taiwanese man from the church I attended at that time “happened” to be a violin player. He didn’t want to help me at first because he said his musical skills were not that good. He changed his mind after I explained to him why I was doing those worship songs. I told him I had written the songs with the prostitutes in mind and that they wouldn’t care if his violin sound wasn’t perfect. What would matter was that the lyrics would go straight into their hearts.

The three first tracks on the CD were my songs. The following tracks were recited Bible verses about God’s love, strength, healing, and hope. I intentionally placed the songs before the Bible verses. This way whoever listened to the first few CD tracks would think, Ah, it’s just music! The Bible verses I chose were read by Chinese friends. I added classical music as background with compositions from Bach, Chopin, Bughici, Albinoni, Vivaldi, and Pachelbel. For the cover I chose one of my paintings and named it “Beautiful Sound.”

I made all the recordings (songs, violin, recited Bible verses) and arrangements and did the editing on my MacBook Pro using a Yeti microphone and Logic Pro X software. Some of my work colleagues (I was working for a media institute) helped me master the CD tracks and format the CD cover. The colleague who helped me the most with this project later became my husband:

Thanks, Rob! For life 🙂

– CD Front- & Backcover –

Chapter Four

Yay: Double Payday!

In Austria depending on your work contract, you can receive double your salary in the summer. It’s called holiday money, or Urlaubsgeld in German. In the winter you can also receive double salary. It’s called Christmas money, or Weihnachtsgeld in German. As soon as I received my Christmas money, I ordered over 250 copies of my Beautiful Sound CD. Then I booked a hotel and bought a flight ticket to Shanghai. I also bought a huge suitcase, very warm clothes, plastic bags, and tons of candies.

Chapter Five

Shanghai: Here I Come

It was my first time in mainland China. Reality hit me hard when I realized that almost no one there could speak English. The people were mostly reserved but friendly. Some wanted to take selfies with me. I thought, Why not? So I smiled cheek to cheek or shoulder to shoulder with them. But how would I make it there with my basic Chinese? I didn’t even know how to formulate a sentence to explain that I was looking for prostitutes.

The hotel I was staying in was the Ladoll Service Apartment located in the Jing’an District. A short walking distance from it were large luxury malls, like the Hisamitsu and the Rui Ou department store. I decided to leave some of my bags in those malls. I would go to each floor, look for the ladies’ restroom, and hang one bag behind every door. Rich Chinese folks need Jesus too, I reasoned. That was day one.

On day two I walked around my neighborhood and gave some bags to people I met in the street. I also entered small shops and gave bags to the employees. This was an opportunity to practice short conversations about my “free Christmas gifts.”

At the end of day two I still I had no idea how to find prostitutes in Shanghai. I was starting to panic. Then God spoke to me: “Find an international Christian church and seek help there.”

That’s what I did. I went online and found an international church. Their next service was taking place the very next evening. I went there with a bag full of CDs because I planned to hand them out to prostitutes that same night. The service took place in a nice big hotel. After the service I approached some people from the congregation and explained to them the reason for my coming. Judging from their faces, I realized that they thought I was crazy. One after the other said they couldn’t help me. I became desperate.

God, why did you send me here? No one wants to help. God pointed out a tall black man and said, “Ask him.”

I went over to the gentleman, introduced myself, and briefly explained why I had come to the service. He too gave me the girl-you’re-crazy look and said no one wanted to help me for fear of getting arrested.

“Do you know where I can find prostitutes?” I asked him.

“Everyone knows.”

“Please,” I begged him. “Please take me there tonight.”

“Tonight? No way! We could get arrested!”

“I know, but I came all the way from Austria just for this. Look—I even brought some of the CDs with me.” I opened my big sports bag to show him the CDs and offered him one.

The man (let’s call him Mike) was not moved. He offered to show me on my map where to find prostitutes, but I didn’t want to go there by myself. Mike was a tall, well-built black man. The perfect bodyguard, I thought. Unfortunately, he still said no even after I insisted several times.

I was sad. Why couldn’t God supernaturally intervene and make the man say yes? I knew the answer. God would never do that because God is a gentleman who doesn’t impose His divine and perfect will. So if God didn’t want to convince Mike, I would try one last time.

I was desperate, so I put Mike under pressure. “Where is your faith? You come here to pray and sing and yet you refuse to help me? God brought me all the way to China to share the gospel with prostitutes. I know it’s dangerous. I would rather be at home spending Christmas with my family, but I’m here. God didn’t bring me to China to get arrested, and if you come with me, you won’t get arrested either. No one from this church wants to help me. You are the last person I’m asking for help. If you still refuse, I will go by myself. But I want you to know one last thing. At this very moment angels are standing next to us, writing down our conversation. The day will come when you will stand before God and He will ask you why you refused to help me. What will you say? Should these angels write that you helped me tonight—or that you refused like everyone else? You decide.”

Mike was convinced.

– Shanghai, China –

– Found some backup –

Chapter Six

Thank You, Mister Mike

I was grateful to God for everything He was doing for me, and I was thankful to Mike for making a conscious decision to help me. You see, our lives and destinies are linked to the destinies of people we know and people we call strangers. By helping me Mike had placed himself in the center of God’s perfect will for that moment.

Mike and I left the fancy hotel and headed toward places where prostitutes could be found. After distributing a few bags, I decided to call it a night. It was quite late and I didn’t want to miss the last transportation to my hotel. Mike and I parted company and never saw each other again. I knew I would no longer need a bodyguard to feel safe. God had sharpened my eyesight so I could recognize prostitutes and which buildings were prostitution houses. The following three nights I handed out the bags by myself.

Chapter Seven

Gospel for the Chinese Mafia

When I would approach a prostitute or enter one of the prostitution houses, I would say my well-rehearsed greeting in Mandarin: “Hello. Merry Christmas. I have a present for you.” The ladies and men working there would look at me, very surprised. So I would smile, repeat my greeting, and hand a bag to each of them.

The reaction I received was generally positive. They would usually ask, “It’s a gift? How much?”

I would answer, “It’s free.”

“A free gift? Why?”

“It’s Christmas, so I want to give you a free gift.”

Others were so happy that they asked for a second bag. “For my friend,” they would say. So I would give them a second one. Some started eating the candies right away. One even played the CD before I left and asked me, “Is it you singing?”

One of the establishments I went to had two receptionists. One lady was so furious about my presence that she tried to chase me away, shouting in broken English, “Nothing is for free in the world! You want money! I don’t give you no money! Go! Go now!”

I replied in vain, “I don’t want any money from you. I want to give you a gift because it’s Christmas!”

“You go away now!” she shouted.

I looked at her colleague, whose eyes revealed that she wanted a bag. I went up to her and said, “Let me give you two bags. Maybe you can give the second one to her when I am gone. They are free.”

As I left the building, I turned around one last time and saw the angry lady holding the second bag, inspecting what was inside.

I must admit that every time I had to go inside one of those houses, I was afraid and ashamed. What will people think when they see me going in there? I also envisioned getting arrested or kidnapped and sold by one of those mafia guys.

One particular prostitution house gave me goose bumps. There were almost no street lights in that area. Through one of the windows I could see about five women and four men standing around. “Sorry, God—I can’t go in there. Look how suspicious these men look— especially that one smoking a cigarette. I’m afraid. What if they rape me? Kidnap me? Or kill me? I don’t want to go in there. Sorry. Besides, I already gave a lot of CDs away. That should be enough.”

I had made up my mind that I would not enter that house. God was silent. He didn’t force me or try to convince me. As I walked farther and farther away from that prostitution house, I felt remorse. What if God had sent me to China particularly for these people inside? Can I return to Vienna and say to myself, “Mission accomplished”?

I decided to put my faith into action and said to God, “Okay—I’m going inside.” With my heart pounding, I walked back to the building. I was so afraid when I placed my hand on the door handle that I thought I wouldn’t be able to speak. The door opened. Everyone stared at me. The large room had several doors in the back. More men came out of them. At that point I wanted to run out. Instead, my mind went on autopilot. My lips smiled, and my mouth said with a joyous voice, “Hello, everyone! Merry Christmas! I have gifts for all of you!”

I still wanted to run away, but my feet went to every single person present. One after another stretched out his or her arm to receive a bag. I could hear them ask, “It’s a gift?”

My lips answered behind my big smile, ”Yes, a gift for you—because it’s Christmas!” When ever single person had received a gift, I said in English, “Bye, bye!”

They all replied together in English, “Bye, bye!”

And I left.

When I was back outside I felt so happy that I had made it out of there alive. My mind was picturing a thousand scenarios of what could have taken place. I hurried away. When I was far enough, I tried to scream, but no sound came out. I had never been that afraid in my entire life. I thanked God for His protection. A few CDs were left in my bag. I decided to hand them out the next day to random people.

I made it back to Vienna in one piece. I will always have a special place for China and Chinese-speaking individual in my heart. I love them and I love God.

All glory be to God!


My trip to China was a seed sowing assignment. I may only know the fruits of this mission in a few years, decades or in heaven. God is not obliged to reveal every facets of his plans to us. Our job is to be obedient when he entrusts us with an assignment, vision or idea.

The apostle Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 3:6,7: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow”. When God gives you a vision, an idea or a plan, He will confirm to you in many ways that the idea came from him and help you all the way. My trip to China is not only my testimony, but a demonstration of how amazing God is and an invitation for you to renew your faith in Him.

When you say “yes” to something God has placed in your heart, God will:

  • fight for you.
  • do the impossible for you.
  • train you.
  • give you fresh ideas.
  • teach you to see things from His perspective.
  • connect you to the right people.
  • supernaturally protect you.
  • take care of your needs.
  • reward your faith and obedience.

Through your faith and obedience to do what God placed in your heart, you will witness:

  • how wonderful and powerful our God is.
  • how lives are being transformed and impacted.
  • … and much more!

God is Waiting

List Philippines
List Philippines
List Philippines

– Gifts in Maria’s Shanghai hotel room –