I came to a nursing home founded by a Christian, located in the western suburb of Xi'an, in October 2016. It is named "Hengcheng Nursing Home."
Senior care is a big problem in China and the severe population aging has brought about many social problems. It is estimated that it's hard to improve the insurance system for the elderly within less than three years and since the family planning policy carried out in the 1980s, a generation of only children who have married and have their careers face the problem of providing for the elderly. One couple needs to support no fewer than four retirees. Considering the high housing price, the young generation even need financial aid from their parents and find it difficult to raise their own children, let alone support the elderly.
China has been encouraging the non-governmental effort in elderly care projects since 2012. However, this is beset with difficulties: the current homes for the aged either have high prices, poor service, or lose money due to bad management. It's hard to get admitted into the homes that provide high-quality and inexpensive service. I feel sorry for the situation this older generation will spend their declining years in.
In the light of this trend, Christianity joined in charity in the big picture, and the Chinese church started to open senior homes.
Sister Yang Yali from Xi'an Encheng Church, along with some other Christians, commenced the elderly care ministry. They paid 100,000 yuan to rent a three-story condominium that could serve about twenty seniors, but just two elderly people dwelt in it. Moved by the Christians, I wrote an article entitled "The Inauguration of the Elderly Care Ministry in Xi'an." A tossed stone raises a thousand ripples. Christians across the country signed up for the project after the article was published, donated money and material, wanted to volunteer or recommended seniors.
The Association for Promotion of Xi'an Christian Elderly Care Career was officially established at the end of 2016.
With the growing influence, about 20 people now reside at the home and, since it can't hold more people, another nearby house has been rented. The seniors and their relatives visited the home with distrust. However, the elderly people who moved here to try it chose to stay, claiming that it was better than their own homes and the employees here treated them better than their children. They determined to spend the rest of their days in the home.
Also, they have all accepted Jesus. Some of their children have even followed their faith, because they saw changes in their parents.
The moods of some seniors have improved and their diseases have dissipated. The home is not only a paradise for the elderly, but also a base for evangelism, a field to save souls and, a dwelling of God on earth.
The home's founder, Yang Yali who is also the head of the visitation team of Encheng Church, has experience in serving patients, the elderly, and drug addicts. She has helped many people with successful rehabilitation.
At the same time, she is the church's teacher with a gift of preaching and praying. The widow gives up her work and caring for her children and grandchildren to perform the church's ministry. She is engaged in the work of God wholeheartedly without any payment.
Telephone Number of Xi'an Hengcheng Nursing Home: 029-84537151
(The author is a Christian writer, poet and musician from Xi'an.)
Translated by Karen Luo