Located in Baoji's northeastern part of Shaanxi province, Linyou County has a population of 90,070 made up of seven towns and 66 administrative villages.
Due to its mountainous geography, Linyou is considered an impoverished county by national standards. Also, resulting from its mountains and water and pleasant climate, it has become a natural resort and tourist destination.
The gospel was first introduced into the county in 1930. As of last June, there were two official churches and three places of assembly. Since 1930, 646 people have been baptized and more than 500 have still remained despite the passing away of some and the migrating of others to the cities to make a living.
Chengguan Church was built on November 7, 1997 at the price of 8,500 yuan. One and half a years later, five rooms were added to the chapel. The church went through procedures in the local land bureau and civil affairs bureau and later obtained the organization code certificate. It opened a bank account to make the church legitimate and its management more standardized.
The staff includes one elder, nine pastors, an accountant, and a cashier. There is also a choir and an orchestra. The Sunday attendance remains at over 80 on average and increases to more than 300 at Easter and Christmas.
In 2011, the church building, affected by rain and mudslides, was declared a restricted area. During the next three years, the congregation gathered in a rented flourmill. In 2015, the congregation moved to worship in two small bungalows and still gather there.
Elder Wang of the church shared his conversion story with me. Wang converted to Christianity because of his poor financial conditions in 1987 and was baptized in 1989. In 1993, he attended a pastoral training program initiated by the Shaanxi Christian Council & Three-Self Patriotic Movement. That October, he was ordained elder. The second year he joined in the three-year correspondence course.
Since 1997, the 59-year-old elder has served the church in residence. He has four times proposed getting a new church site approved in the county political consultative conference. His biggest wish is that the county's TSPM be established and a new building for the Chengguan Church be built.
- Translated by Karen Luo