In Memory of God's Servants Who Influenced My Spiritual Growth
By CCD contributor: Zhang Xiaohua , September 18, 2018 10:09 AM
I couldn't help thinking about the pastors that helped and cultivated my spiritual growth. These genial and charismatic pastors with different experiences have witnessed God with their strong beliefs. They influenced me and led me to work in the church. They may no longer be here, but their faces and voices are still vividly remembered by those whom they touched.
Rev. Zhang Wujian
He is well-known among Christians in Shanxi. He studied under famous Rev. Yang Shaotang, and graduated from Tianjin Seminary in 1942 where he also taught. In 1958, the seminary was closed down and he went back to hometown to farm. He returned back to the church in the 1980s after the churches in the country were restored and he was ordained as a pastor.
As a child, I used to go to Quwo Church with my parents to listen to his preaching. Simple dressed, modest and gentle, Rev. Zhang's preaching was full of knowledge, attractive and very easy to understand. Thanks to his experience of being a music teacher, Rev. Zhang played piano very well and taught us to sing with his loud and powerful voice.
When I worked at Linfen, I would hear that he was busy hosting various meetings. Sometimes, when we had a chance to talk, he always encouraged me to study hard, read Bible and serve God. He would always mention his teacher's saying "be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" quoted from Revelation 2:10 in the Bible.
It was his motivation in serving God. In his later years, he still worked in churches in Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Henan.
Every time I went back to my hometown, I would visit him. Even when he was very sick, he kept doing things like reading the Bible and writing spiritual notes with his sincere faith in God. He even lent me some books when I visited him.
Elder Chang Yongtai
He was a pastor in a village of Houma City, who was strong, honest and kind, often dressed in his old-fashioned military jacket. In his early years, he worked at a shelter in downtown Houma. Then, he went back to his hometown to work at a church.
In the early 1990s, he appealed to the village committee to give an unused factory to the church for several times until it was granted to them. He led Christians to push aside all their differences and, finally, they raised several thousand yuan to build a church. In gatherings held in every two years, there were no empty seats.
As the number of Christian grew, the morality of the village improved greatly. Thus they had a favorable reception from the village cadres. Elder Chang even adopted four abandoned babies consecutively. They were disabled in certain aspects, like in their mental or physical state. Though life was very hard for them, Elder Chang and the other Christians took care of them and gave them love far more than parents could do. One of them now studies in the college. One was sent to a welfare house then adopted by an American family.
Elder Chang struggled but devoted himself to God.
Elder Cheng Shu'en
In another person's eye, she was a kind granny. She graduated from a Christian girls' school and her belief in Jesus Christ had never shaken in her entire life. During the period when the Christian church was forbidden in the 1980s, Elder Cheng worshipped with several Christians underground. Then, she and Zhang Yanqin, who is now the pastor in Fengtang Church in Beijing, went to government's united front work department time after time for official approval to restore Linfen Church's property. They finally achieved it and restored Shan Sheng Hospital at the same time.
She then lived and worked in the church. During my early time working in Linfen, every time I went to the church, I could see her. Sometimes, we talked to each other when I went there early. It might be because I am disabled; but, she paid good attention to me. We sometimes discussed spiritual issues too.
In the early 1990s, disputes in the Linfen Church rose to the peak. She insisted on her belief modestly, even when she was unreasonably accused in the platform of the church, so as to keep Linfen Church from deviating from the truth.
Elder Li Duxin
Elder Li is a tall man with a strong local accent from Hexi, Linfen. I heard his preaching and was impressed by his interesting and lively description of the fallen angel and the features of the devil. That was the only thing I knew about him at that time.
Years later, when I worked at a distant church, I started to know more about him. During the early period of the restoration of churches in China, Elder Li spent 4-5 days a week on walking tens of miles a day to remote mountainous areas to share the Gospel while carrying steamed bread. He loved to sing Christian songs while walking. On Sunday, he would come back to work in Xiyi Church. He had been to many remote areas since he began his mission.
During that time, many people in these areas converted to Christianity. Some smaller villages were Christianized totally. Elder Li then taught a few youngsters, who are now in their 70s and in charge of some parishes.
Rev. Xue Dang'e
When we first met, Rev. Xue Dang'e was a teacher at an elementary school. She became a Christian as a girl because of her parents. On Sundays, she worked as a financial staff member in the church. She always smiled when she talked. It is very comfortable to get along with her.
After her retirement, she worked full time in the church and was ordained as an elder and a pastor. She was also elected as the head of the municipal and district CCC&TSPM, as well as the vice chairman of provincial congresses and political consultative conferences.
To build a church, she struggled with all the difficulties and went through all the tiresome procedures. Years later, a brand new and well-equipped four-floor church building was established.
She gave me a lot of help. When I started to share the gospel, my bicycle was very shabby. She gave me more than one thousand yuan to buy a light-duty motorcycle. I felt inferior for being disabled, but she and the staff of the Linfen CCC&TSPM didn't exclude me and were quite concerned about me instead. She broke out of the constraints of discrimination and recommended me to be a deacon, then an elder, and enrolled me to the local CCC&TSPM. By her appointment, I have been preaching in the church on Sunday up to the present time.
Deacon Li Junying
Li Junying, who was lame in one leg, was a kindergarten teacher. In her later years, she converted to Christianity. This straightforward lady had also been a pianist for years and was one of the founders of the church choir.
She was always ready to help, and this is her strongest trait. She was very good at leading others to God. If there were newcomers in the church, she would ask if they were in any difficulties and if they want to join the choir after the worship was finished. During that time when she worked in the church, many people were encouraged to serve God with her support.
Some did not attend sometime later because their faith weakened. However, if they went to church again the next Sunday, Li Junying would ask them their reason and encourage to keep their worship in the church. Usually, they would come again. I was one of them. When I was weak and down, she gave me faith and strength.
I am very grateful when I think of what I have been through with them. Now, they have all passed away and rested from their labor. Every time when I think of them, I can not help tearing up.
(The author is a worker of a church in Linfen, Shanxi.)
- Translated by Lin Changfeng
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