Century-old History of Christianity in Qinghai, Thanks to American Missionary(Interview)

By Josiah Li, August 01, 2016 07:08 AM

The Gospel Church in Huangyuan County under repair in May, 2015(Rev. Qin Huangmin)

The cross on the Gospel Church(Rev. Qin Huangmin)

Rev. Victor G. Plymire held the last baptism service in Huangyuan on June 19, 1949(agwm.com)

The family photo of Rev. Victor G. Plymire, shot in 1938(agwm.com)

David G. Plymire stands at the monastery where he receives call to mission(agwm.com)

Recently, CCD interviewed Rev. Qin Cizhe, the former senior pastor of the Gospel Church, to learn about the history of Christianity in Huangyuan, Qinghai. He said that there are around 200 Christians, plus the rural believers in the county with a population of more than 130,000 people. Heresies like Eastern Lightning, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mentuhui are disturbing the local congregation.

The 78-year-old pastor said that in 1919, an American missionary named Victor G. Plymire came to China to evangelize and moved around Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet successively. He last stayed in Huangyuan, a county in Qinghai.

When he arrived here, the China Inland Mission was already there with a dozens of Christians. In the beginning he met cultural barriers and he was excluded by the locals. Later, he learnt to wear the local costume and the local languages, as well as the lifestyle in the area.

Rev.Qin shared an interesting story that Victor faced a test when he almost finished learning from a native teacher for three years. The teacher asked him to eat a piece of meat with a knife on it, which was a local custom, but he refused to do it in the first two days and tried it in the third day.

He passed the test and learnt the Tibetan language coupled with Mongolian language.

Regarding the history of Christianity in Huangyuan, an online blogger shared that Plymires arrived in the county to preach the gospel from Xi'ning, the provincial capital, citing the county's annal published in 1993 as reference. They rented the house of a resident, where the government department was located.

One year later, it was remoulded into a western-style house and they built bungalows, including a church (the Gospel Church) and a clinic.

Evangelism was mainly through the distribution of the Chinese translations of the New Testament, the Old Testament and photos. Victor summoned the children playing on the streets to the church to read the Bible on Sundays.

The biggest activity was the annual Christmas celebration with about 100 people in attendance.

Next, he provided clinics to the residents as a means to disseminate the Christian doctrine and increase its influence.

The number of believers grew to more than 80 people until the middle 1940s.

In 1949, Victor and his family had to leave the county for Hong Kong due to the policy that forces missionaries to be expelled from China.

Then, the church was handed over to the Chinese pastors Ren Chongdu and Qin Buying, the father of Qin Cizhe. The Qin's family has been serving in the church as its history is passed down from generation to generation.

Following Rev. Qin Buying, Rev. Qin Cizhe was in charge of the church and currently his son, Rev. Qin Huangmin, leads it.

During the interview, Qin Cizhe talks about his playmate - David G. Plymire, the son of Victor.

David spent his childhood and youth in Huangyuan, his second hometown and left it with his parents at the age of 18.

The descendant of the missionary, 85, takes care the place all the time after leaving the country. He has been to Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin between 1980 and 1982 and finally, came back to the region of China where his parents ministered in 1987.

He and his relatives have donated medical equipments worth of 4.5 million yuan. In 2002, he was entitled with the award "Honorary Citizen of Qinghai".

In recent years, he visited again and left on July 27, claiming that it might be the last visit to his "second hometown".

 

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