China’s Largest Church-run Hospital Celebrates 32nd Anniversary

By Grace Zhi, September 02, 2017 08:09 AM

The Elim Nursing Home affiliated to the Amity Hospital

The Amity Foundation

The early founders of the Amity Foundation

On August 27, 2017, a congregation of more than one thousand people celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the Amity Hospital in Wangshe Church in Linqu County, Shandong. The Amity Hospital in Linqu County was the first church-run hospital in China since the Chinese church was reopened in 1979 and also the largest hospital in China's Christian community.

The hospital grew from a clinic initiated in 1985. Zhao Bingchang, a doctor and the grandfather of Zhao Dejing, the hospital's president, led local believers to donate 18,000 yuan to build the clinic with the idea that Christians are the salt and light of the earth. A few retired Christian doctors gave free treatment there and, at the same time, recruited young people to study medicine for free.

President Zhao told CCD that her grandfather was born in Taian, in East China's Shandong Province. After a famine broke out in Linqu County in 1942, her grandfather headed to the county and started to treat patients and build churches. 

Zhao stated that professional knowledge and dedication were required to run a Christian hospital. His father, a doctor and a pastor, commanded Zhao to study medicine in Xinxiang Hospital in Henan. After graduation she started working in the Amity Hospital in 1995.

"The hospital gained little profit at that time. We were paid 80 yuan a month while the pay in other hospitals reached over 300 yuan. Commitment was required since employees received low wages. My grandfather said then that our work would be not wasted even if there was one convert a year." Said Zhao.

The hospital received support from churches at home and abroad as well as government policies, especially through cooperation with the Amity Foundation starting in 1995. It has developed into a nascent comprehensive hospital with special services. Since May 2002, its collaborative project on blindness prevention with the Amity Foundation and the Christian Blindness Mission (CBM) has helped tens of thousands of cataract patients regain sight. 

In 2007, the hospital moved from the countryside to the county's busy section owing to its inconvenient geographical position. The new facility covers an area of 3,000 square meters (0.741 acres) with a floor area of 2,800 square meters (0.692 acres). 

With 80 beds and 90 medical personnel, it has clinical departments like ophthalmology, dentistry, internal medicine, and medical and technical departments including radiology, ultrasound, and gastro-endoscopics. It has over 30,000 outpatient visits, more than 600 eye operations, and about 100 surgeries every year. 

In addition to this it has a nursing home with a capacity of 150 people and a branch located on the former site of the hospital. 

The well-functioning hospital offers almost the same welfare as public hospitals and more than half of the medical staff are Christians. It reduces treatment expenses or postpones payment for the financially disadvantaged, the lonely elderly, and the disabled. Over 50 people have benefited from the policy from August 2016 to this August. 

Moreover, it holds regular free clinics in local communities and mountainous regions, which receives praises from the local government and people. Thus it is called "a hospital of Jesus".

The church-run hospital gives to the local church and pays social security contributions (this includes endowment insurance, health insurance, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, maternity insurance, and housing provident fund schemes) for seven full-time theological graduates serving in the county's churches. 

In addition, it purchased 180 mu (29.6 acres) of land in 2013. With an investment of 200 million yuan from the government, it started a construction project to build integrated elderly health care facilities on the land. Due to a lack of funds, the construction is not yet completed.

At the 32nd anniversary celebration, a pastor preached a message about dedication, love, and perseverance, citing the verses on the church in Philadelphia in Revelation. Believers gathered together for each anniversary commemoration, recalling the hard work of the older generation and the initial purpose of building the hospital. The mission of "healing the wounded and rescuing the dying, glorifying God and edifying people" has been its tradition. The verse that "if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel" (Colossians 1:23) is engraved on the two sides of Wangshe Church's sanctuary.

Zhao said, "When I was a child, believers often asked for my grandfather's help and my house was always bustling. Before his death, he left an exhortation of Colossians 1:23: if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel."

"Now there are over 40 churches in Linju County. The scripture is inscribed on the sides of many of the churches' halls." She added.

- Translated by Karen Luo

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