What’s Your Name?

My first name, Minneke, is a Dutch name which means “Brave and steadfast warrior”. Growing up I was always “brave” when it came to physical danger and challenges… I was a risk taker! But when I came to Christ and I started facing spiritual challenges or even spiritual attack, I realized I wasn’t brave at all… since I was young I had had many nightmares and night terrors. I was afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of my dreams, afraid of being trapped, afraid of our home being broken into, even afraid of being afraid! All of this didn’t make me feel like much of a warrior either! And I certainly wasn’t steadfast… if I wasn’t good at something the first time, I gave up. If something was getting too hard, or too stressful, I gave up. If I didn’t like my job, I quit. When I thought about what my name meant, I felt exactly the opposite… However, it has amazed me how God is slowly turning me into this “brave and steadfast warrior!” His Word is telling me not to fear, and He is helping me to overcome my fears. He has disciplined me when I have quit or given up and shouldn’t have, and that has been a very valuable lesson for me too.  

Chinese people take names very seriously. Whenever I told someone my name was Minneke, they always immediately asked me what it meant. They were shocked that I didn’t know the meanings of my other friends’ English names! Traditionally, many Chinese would go to a Spiritist and pay them to choose a name for their child that would be the best and most appropriate, and would bring them success and health. My husband’s Chinese name means “Raise up China”. His parents weren’t Christian when they named him, but when my husband became a Christian, he knew that God had given him the desire and passion to share the gospel with his fellow countrymen, and that his name really was for God’s purpose! Our pastor in China gave him the English name “David” because he was also a musician and worshipper, had grown up shepherding animals (water buffalo instead of sheep!), and was the youngest of a large family. Funnily enough, My Chinese name used to be “Wan Ming Lu” which my (Australian) Chinese professor gave me. When I first told it to David, he said “you can’t be named that! It sounds like the Chinese name for Marlborough Cigarettes!” I laughed and let him choose me one with a much more appropriate meaning! 

What does your name mean? Have your parents ever told you why they named you that? Do you think it says anything about you, or do you wish it did?

I’m always interested in how parents decide the names of their children… I remember my parents telling me they had a few names picked out for my brother before he was born, but when my Dad saw him, his first thought was “We just have to name him William!” That wasn’t even on their name list! Sometimes I think God must give parents a special instinct as to what to name their child. But perhaps name giving isn’t always an overly spiritual decision! For several reasons, I always wanted our third child to be called “James”. However, my husband wanted to name him “Paul”. One day when our two older kids were watching Thomas the Tank Engine, my husband overheard someone on the show talking about the engine called “James”. He said to me “James… hey that’s a good name! Let’s name our baby James”. I was fuming and happy at the same time! Happy because we finally agreed on the name (that I wanted!) and fuming because he only changed his mind because of a kids cartoon!   

As I’ve read through the Bible, I find so much about names! God Himself has so many names, and they all speak to a different aspect of his character. An Angel told Joseph he was to name the baby in Mary’s womb “Jesus” and Zechariah that he was to name their baby “John”, and Jesus even gave people new names when they followed him. Simon became “Peter”, the Rock… at the time he seemed anything but! He was impulsive, and even denied Jesus… but Jesus had told him that he would be the Rock on which He would build His church, and he became exactly that! I think that’s incredible… I’m enjoying the journey He has me on to becoming the “brave and steadfast warrior” I was named to be!