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The Story Behind the Violin-Shaped Church: Praise Singing in Ruins

The Story Behind the Violin-Shaped Church: Praise Singing in Ruins

Violin Church Violin Church
ByYi Yang January 21, 2016
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Before the prototype of the "violin church" was formed in his mind, it needed extraordinary faith for Preacher Wang Liqun to believe that the church was the land God had promised.

Since Christianity first entered into Yanbu in 1898, the Church of Christ in China, Baptist Missionary Society, and the Seventh-day Adventist founded churches and chapels here and famous preachers like Paul Chen, Huo Songxuan, and Chen Fengchan preached the Gospel. Yanbu once became the Gospel center of Nanhai District. Until the 1960s, the churches had been shut down and they restarted services only in 1996. 

In 2011, when Wang returned to Yanbu after his graduation from Singapore Baptist Theological Seminary , he got to know that Christians here longed to build a new church for the past seven or eight years. The old small church building purchased through "field exchange" after the completion of religion policy covering more than 200 square meters could not hold over 100 Christians in a service. 

To promote the management of local Christianity, the government of the Nanhai district allocated a land with the area of 3,916 square meters to Yanbu Church which was asked to move and to rebuild a new one in 2011.

Wang said, to his surprise, that the allocated land was "simply a garbage dump." It was covered with waste and rubbish with sewage was running everywhere while electric wires twisted like a spider web in the sky. Born in a city and owning the education background of bachelor and master’s degree in theology, he nearly turned away. Besides facing the ruins, he found it a challenge to face the congregation with only primary school education, a large gap for him.

"God called me to this place and I am still thinking about what I can do for God although I feel unwilling. Many people go to big cities but distant places such as this need men to work for God." 

In the beginning, what lay  in front of him were ruins, a group of low education level of believers and co-workers, and around one million RMB fund, their savings for many years.        

Many migrants gather in Yanbu and 95% of the residents are migrant/external workers. Although believers expected to build a new one, it's so hard for the church with low educational level of workers as well as poor economic condition to build a respectable church. The co-workers and pastors of provincial CCC&TSPM thought it so "crazy" when Wang excitedly brought the design drawing of a "violin" church to them.

In the view of most believers, a church doesn't look like a church and loses its holiness when it is without an iconic  Gothic spire or Romanesque arch, while Wang insisted on his design and discussed with the building team constantly. The building agreement was finally reached under the principle of "the minority being subordinate to the majority." On November 2, 2013, the new church building laid its foundation and it was finally accepted on December 22, 2015.

His church's building theory relates to his study of theology in Singapore where he saw many churches expressing special revelations that God reveals. Wang had considered making the building into the appearance of piano but that taks cost into account, he changed it to violin which can replace the bell tower yet uplift the cross in the same way. "Music firstly comes to mind when people look at a violin.  Music is made to praise the cross," said Wang. While many thought it was fancy or impossible to construct a "violin" church even with 20 million RMB and many suggested him to just build a shed to ensure normal services instead, Wang shook his head and led the staff to agree. Finally, it cost the church only about 2.8 million RMB to finish the building adding late decoration.

As Nathanael asked, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" in the Bible, some  asked Wang what good architecture can come from Yanbu. The preacher says Jesus Christ came from Nazareth and Yanbu can have good architecture. As a result, when the building was completed, not only were believers excited, but non-Christians were also amazed. Even the local TV station reported it.

When the church building was just completed, some said although it looked so beautiful, the high voltage wires in front of the church were a failure because they were not permitted to be removed by the government. It was awesome that a believer said they forgot to design a bow and realized those wires were the natural bow God prepared after they were reminded by the building team.

Wang shares that besides looking beautiful, the "violin" church has profound meanings: there is a "violin code" which contains abundant theology. He hopes believers can think about faith through the building. In addition, Preacher Wang hopes to have some progress in worship, sermons and visiting, saying,  "We want to be faithful and wise servants and build a violin church in the remote land to glorify God's name."

Violins contain the meaning of praise. The outline of the church contains, "God, Bon". The latter Bon means beautiful or good in French. On the both sides of the wall lie the contours of an empty grave and the Star of David, representing the New Testament and the Old Testament respectively.

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