On January 31, 2020, Blessings Reformed Presbyterian Church in Chengdu held a memorial service for an elderly believer, Zhang Zhuzhen, an 80-year-old member of the church. Auntie Zhang was the first death case in Sichuan province since the coronavirus outbreak in late January.
Enfu Church's spokesperson said, "On January 20, 2020, Auntie Zhang left Wuhan to visit her second son in Chengdu for reunion; on the evening of the 21st, she started coughing badly with low fever and went to Huaxi Hospital for examination the next day; on the 23rd, she was diagnosed with the viral infection and was transferred to a public health center. On the 24th, her condition deteriorated but showed a slight improvement the following day, to the extent where she could even get out of bed; on that same 25th, Pastor Peng Qiang of Enfu Church phoned her to share the gospel message. Auntie Zhang expressed her willingness to believe and pray, awaiting the glorious resurrection. God has His timetable and none of the people He has chosen will be lost. Auntie Zhang was the first death case in Sichuan Province due to the outbreak. Although death toll always appears to be cold, the coldness can only be truly reduced and comforted in Christ's faith, love and hope for the future. In order to remember auntie Zhang and to convey this heavenly comfort to her relatives and friends, the Church carried out a special memorial service.
During the remembrance service, Pastor Peng Qiang, quoting Psalm 80, shared a fragment of Auntie Zhang's acceptance of the gospel during her lifetime, and said, "Till her dying moment, the old mother was in the company of music and poetry. In the past, many people in the church have been praying for Mother Zhang and her whole family. I feel deeply that God is truly among us. We're not entirely sure how deep mother Zhang's relationship with the Lord was at the end of the day. However, we can be comforted that the foundation of our faith lies in God's faithfulness; even a little spark of faith is not looked down upon by the Lord, He remembers it all."
He added that during the outbreak, all kinds of challenging news would come to us, so we would be tempted to pray as follows: "God! If you are real, show your power to save us". However, "if you pray like this, you will become more and more desperate as you look at the world every day and ask God to do this or that. You need a transcendent vision from God, and we need constantly pray according to this Psalm: 'Lord, please make us turn around, make your face shine, and we will be saved.' "
Pastor Peng said we most wanted the plague to stop when we encountered it. Yet this prayer reminded us of how God's heart was in our suffering, "and the first thing is to turn around, to return to God." He advised, "Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord, through the suffering of this plague, lead you and me back, and in God's light we should examine our relationship with the Lord, and may the Lord revive our lives."
Auntie Zhang's second son said, "My mother was blessed. In this time of epidemic and panic, when the pastor phoned to ask my mother (who was in the quarantine ward) whether she believed in the Lord, she calmly replied: 'Yes'. The words were faint, but the Lord also heard that. His gentle hand lifted my mother's weak body and brought her back to heaven. Before my mother died, her ear was full of hymns we had prepared for her. May the Words of the Lord, through this poem, water her dry heart. Jesus said, 'I am the resurrection and the life, and those who believe in me, though dead, will live'. All those who live and believe in Him will never die; do you believe that? I believe it. This is not a sad isolation, it is a declaration that we are reunited."
- Translated by Charlie Li