Pastor Shi Jinrong was born in 1889 in Shanghai's Zhabei District. In 1897, starting from the age of eight, he accompanied his parents to St. Paul's Church in Shanghai Jiangwan Episcopal Church. After listening to the church's pastors, Pastor Yan Rusong and Pastor Wu Hongrong, he decided to become a pastor. He joined St. John's University in Shanghai in 1911. After graduating in 1915, he offered to go to the countryside to preach and with the consent of the Anglican Bishop E. R. Graves he went to Taicang to purchase a land to build St. Matthew's Church, starting a three decade long relationship with Taicang.
From a Buddhist family to a Christian family
Both parents of Shi Jinrong's family were Buddhist. His father, Shi Leting, a reputable boxer, boxed at the Shanghai Temple Fair one day. As he became tired, he went into the St. Paul's Anglican Church to rest. Pastor Yan Rusong was delivering a sermon at the time. Hearing the message, he felt he had discovered a treasure. After the congregation had dispersed, he was reluctant to leave the church and remained there for a long time. This caught the attention of Pastor Yan Rusong. Upon coming to knowing Shi Jingrong's father's situation, Pastor Yan further preached the Gospel to him and he immediately decided to abandon his idols and put his faith in Jesus Christ.
His mother was in disbelief and opposed it, arguing that Christianity was a foreign religion and one could follow a foreign religion. Three years later, the mother became seriously ill and the family called on a famous local doctor to introduce a cure, however to no avail. As her life was in danger, Shi Jinrong's father took his wife to St. Paul's Church asking for help from Pastor Yan Rusong. After a prayer, the mother miraculously recovered and Shi Jinrong's mother resultingly chose to put her faith in Jesus Christ. The family turned from Buddhism to Christianity.
Dedication to reading in college and determination to serve the country church
Shortly after the Shi Leting couple were converted to Christ, Shi Jinrong was born. Because of his Christian parents, Shi Jinrong began to follow them to St. Paul's Church in Jiangwan, ten miles from his home, to listen to the teachings of Pastor Yan Rusong and Pastor Wu Hongxuan, the older generation of pastors.
The year 1911 was an important year for Shi Jinrong, because he officially began studies at St. John's University in Shanghai, a university founded by the Chinese Episcopal Church, and also because he embarked on the path of dedicating his life as a pastor and volunteer. Reverend Shi Jinrong studied in the university's four-year theology programm and graduated in June 1915. That same year, he and is fiance Shi Saiyu were married on October 30 at St. Peter's Church in Shanghai. In November, he began traveling to the countryside to preach in Taicang, something that was more difficult.
Constructing St. Matthew's Church and a church school
Upon arriving in Taicang, Pastor Shi Jinrong first bought land in order to build St. Matthew's Church. The building was converted into an auditorium and a priest's residence, the predecessor of St. Matthew's. The new St. Matthew's Church was built in Taicang and completed in 1935. The new hall was located on the edge of the city near the bridge and had a board of directors.
In 1917, Pastor Shi Jinrong also founded Peide Elementary School located inside St. Matthew's Church. It ran on a single-class system, with Pastor Shi Jinrong being the headmaster. Students attended classes during the week and went to services on Sundays. In 1937, about twenty years after the school had started, the Anti-Japanese War in Shanghai broke out, completely disrupting the situation in Taicang. Pastor Shi Jinrong continuing running St. Matthew's Church until August 13, 1937 went an evacuation too place, and Peide Primary School was also forced to close.
Performing miracles to save people - glorifying God by benefiting people
During his years of pastoral work in Taicang, Pastor Shi Jinrong brought many souls into the kingdom.
Two examples of life changing miracles must be mentioned.
In the summer of 1928, a believer named Zhang Yongqing graduated from Suzhou Hsien Road Middle School and taught at St. Peter's Church Primary School in Shanghai. During that summer while back in Taicang at the grandmother's house, Zhang got dysentery after eating some watermelon and a piece of bread. For six whole days and nights Zhang had non-stop diarrhea and could not eat or drink. The syptoms were extremely serious and Zhang's life was in danger. Four doctors were invited one after another but they could not prescribe a cure. Finally, Zhang's mother thought of Jesus Christ, and asked Pastor Shi Jinrong to come to her to pray and ask the Lord for healing. The Pastor and his wife, while on the way were blessed by the Lord with special leadership and great love, and came to sincerely pray. The Lord spoke wonderfully to Pastor Shi promising that his prayers would be answered. Later, Miss Zhang Yongqing was able to eat some porridge, and gradually recovered, all to love the Lord more.
In another case, while Pastor Shi Jinrong was ministering in Taicang, he encountered a rich family that had two married sons. However, the younger son had been mentally disturbed for three years and was locked in a cage, shouting frequently. He also had violent tendencies. After Pastor Shi heard about this, he prayed and asked the Lord in faith for healing. He then began seing some changes in the young man. After asking the boy's father to open the cage and after some washing up, the son became himself. The family was overwhelmed with joy. A few days later, the family thanked him by giving him a precious ancient painting.
For more than 30 years, from 1915 until 1946, Pastor Shi Jinrong was the full-time pastor of the Good Shepherd Church in Jiading, despite having had a temporary period in which the church had been closed due to the war. He and his wife had three children, all of whom have an intimate relationship with Taicang, either having been born in Taicang or having grown up there. In 1974, Pastor Shi Jinrong was at last called to his heavenly home.
- Translated by Charlie Li