Retired Elder Who Devoted His Life to Church Dies at 79

By Josiah Li, June 02, 2017 01:06 AM

Qin Cizhe (CCD)

Elder Qin Cizhe, who had watched Gospel Church in Huangyuan County, Xi'ning, Qinghai, throughout his life, passed away on May 9, 2017. He was 79.

He died of a myocardial infarction he suffered once six years ago. His memorial service was held on May 11 and his body was buried in the churchyard.

Just two weeks before his death, he spoke his mind to a visitor, "Although there are no 'sheep' in the 'pen' and no 'grapes' on the 'vines', I still watch here." A similar saying came out of his mouth last September, "Though I lost my eyesight and hearing, I want to be a watchman here. The church is my only inheritance and it would be best that my ashes can be buried in the church's garden."

Qin was baptized when he was 11, in June 1949, when Rev. Victor Plymire, the founder of the church, held his last baptism service in Huangyuan. Plymire, from the Assemblies of God (USA), came to China in December 1908, and evangelized in Huangyuan in 1921. He established the church three years later.  

His son John and first wife Grace Harkless died of smallpox in November 1927. Later he married Ruth Weidman and continued to preach the Gospel in the county with their two children David Plymire and Mary Ann. The Plymires left on June 19, 1949. After that, the pastor never returned to Huangyuan. The couple dedicated David to China, who went to Taiwan in 1958 and served the people there for 26 years. In 1987, he finally visited his "hometown". Since then, he has donated more than 10 million yuan to local hospitals and the church in Huangyuan, and been awarded the title of "honorary citizen in Qinghai Province."

After Rev. Victor Plymire left Huangyuan, Qin Buying, the father of Qin Cizhe, became the chief leader of the church. Sentenced to nine years in prison for his faith, Qin began his sentence in 1958, but died in prison. Elder Qin Cizhe was also persecuted for his faith and connection with Americans. His hearing was impaired during the denunciation.

After the opening up and reform, churches across China resumed services. He fought to reopen Gospel Church. Despite encountering hindrance from the local authority, the church was reopened thanks to its good witness.  It had distributed clothes and food and also offered free treatment to poor people. Even more impressively,  in 1929 it acted as a shelter, saving many injured people after a massacre led by a Hui ethnic group killed over 3000 locals. Qin was in charge of the church. 

"In the beginning was the word; Incarnation; Emmanuel; Hallelujah."  He claimed that the whole Bible can be summarized with sixteen Chinese characters.

Cults like Eastern Lightning and Mentuhui, who were regarded as Qin's enemy, disturbed the local believers. Qin said that he ran to the cults and distributed the Bibles to their followers when he was young. He thought that he should show the Bible to the congregations, for the cult leaders were hard to change. In addition, he gave a hand to a seminary student who wanted to come back to Yanjing Theological Seminary despite a prestigious pastor opposing the request. He gave the young man a recommendation letter and the latter became a pastor. 

Qin left the position of church leader in 1999 and his son, Rev. Qin Huangmin, succeeded him to the post. Though he retired from the church, his service never stopped. The old elder swept the yard and the church, and received some seekers and guests. Having one son and four daughters, he insisted on living in the church alone despite his blindness and hearing weakness. 

His third eldest daughter told CCD that what her father impressed her with the most lies in that "he loved God.  That was his everything and his whole life was for the church." 

Translated by Karen Luo

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