Evangelism for God and Dedication -- the 50-Year Story of a Pastor
By CCD contributor: John Wu, December 02, 2016 01:12 AM
Notable verse: "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers." (Eph.4:11 NIV)
In late October 2016, I was lucky to see Pastor Li Qingzhen in Nanning, an aged servant of God who has been preaching for 50 years. Pastor Li was a devoted and smart preacher, spiritual and was full of energy. She was very easy going and gave people a sense of kinship. You could hardly believe that she is almost 80 years old.
Pastor Li Qingzhen is the only pastor in Qinghe County Church of Aletai, Xinjiang. Her grandmother and mother were both Christians, and now all the five generations in her family believe in God. It has been half a century since she started working for God in Qinghe County from her hometown Henan. She is indeed God's loyal servant.
Chosen by God
Pastor Li Qingzhen's ancestral home was in Fugou County, Zhoukou, Henan Province. She was born in the 1930s during the discordant times and the Yellow River Flooding. Her family was forced to leave her behind when she was sick. Later when she was saved, she suffered great hardships. The most serious time was in the 60s; Li was sick again and was almost dying. Her family even prepared a coffin for her. Her husband, brother Song Dewu, unwilling to believe she was dead, refused to lay her body in the casket. He took care of her all night and finally he could feel her breath. She was in a coma for a month. While in the coma and deep sleep, she heard a voice calling: my child, get up and follow me! She asked: who are you? The voice replied, "I am your savior Jesus Christ." Li did wake up! Later she gradually recovered, and she went to the church, being baptized. She started to walk the road of the cross with God.
Called by God to Xinjiang
After Li was baptized, she served full time at the local church. In 1966, she felt the calling from her hometown of Henan to Xinjiang. One reason was to unite with her husband who was supporting the border areas, and the other was for evangelism. At that time, with some simple luggage and dried food, she overcame difficulties and risks like flood, rollover, and more. After 12 days and more than four thousand kilometers, she arrived in Qinghe County.
Qinghe County is an area where minorities and Han people live together. Evangelism is difficult due to different beliefs. At first, Li started from the neighborhood and preached among the neighbors. She would take some dried food and go to the countryside. Using techniques she learned while being a barefoot doctor, like acupuncture, cupping therapy, massage, and other traditional Chinese treatments, she treated people and preached the Gospel. Through beloved forms like clapper talk, skits, folk ditties, hymns, and others, she started the life of preaching the Gospel for God.
The Couple Building Church Together
50 years ago, Pastor Li Qingzhen came to Qinghe County despite the difficulties and danger she had on the way. She and her husband, Brother Song Dewu started preparing to build the first church in Qinghe County. They lacked funds, donations, and materials. However, together with the church fellow workers and believers, they built the church from scratch with their hands.
Dedicating Her Life to God
During the Cultural Revolution catastrophe, the family of Pastor Li suffered from beatings, smashing and looting. She was also defined as "ghosts and monsters." In order to protect the only printed Bible, she fought with "the rebels" many times. She moved it several times, so it was never discovered.
When "the rebels" came to reckon with her she was beaten by a group of young men with sticks. Being a weak woman of only 1.5-meter-high, she was still praying, bearing the pain from the beating until she was unconscious, "God, forgive them, for they know not what they do." When she woke up, she was covered with wounds, her face full of blood, and her teeth were all knocked out. Since then the old pastor has had full dentures. When they first started building the church, she suffered difficulties from misunderstandings, doubt, and obstruction. They lacked funds, materials, pastoral workers, and even Bibles. She only had one Bible, an old version, that she treasured a lot, so she hand wrote the Bible for the brothers and sisters.
In the past 50 years, not only does the pastor not have any payment or allowance, she also donates the money and goods that her children have given to her. She offers help for the social disaster relief, and dedicates herself for the Gospel of God. With her efforts, the church developed from a few people to more than 200 members. They also have a foundation for funds and equipment. Pastor Li was honored by the county and city many times, and the church was also awarded the Peaceful and Harmonious Unit of Qinghe County.
She has 8 children, and now three of them are full-time preachers. One daughter even gave up being a corporate executive to serve God full time.
During the interview, the aged pastor was very humble. Her pet phrases were: "I am a sinner" and "Hallelujah, praise the Lord." She also told me to say Hallelujah at all times. The old pastor gets up at 5 am every day to read the Bible, pray, do her daily devotion, and write down her thoughts in a notebook. She values studying very much. In those days, in order to improve her spiritual abilities, she sold two little pigs to collect some traveling fare to study in a church in Urumqi Autonomous Region. I noticed that she was very familiar with the Bible, so I picked a few "uncommon" verses to quiz her. She answered with the reference as well as its meaning without hesitation.
The aged pastor is not old; she keeps pace with the times. Talking about Israel, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy, she has her own viewpoints. She also writes Bible stories and entertainment programs that will bring people to God, and acts them out. I have heard, and seen, her performing the evangelism clapper talk, Henan Opera, local ditties, dances, hymns, and others. The language was simple and catchy, full of Bible truth and the Spirit.
The only wish of the aged pastor was to go to Jerusalem in her remaining years.
Translated By: Grace Hubl
(The author of this article is a church fellow worker in Liaoning Anshan.)
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