Story of Church in Zhangjiajie’s Remote Mountainous Area, South-central China
By Josiah Li, April 20, 2018 01:04 AM
A Gothic-style church sits in a remote mountain town of Zhangjiajie, a prefecture-level city in northwest Hunan Province.
Wangjiaping Church, the second oldest church in Zhangjiajie, has a history of about twenty years.
In 1994, Sister Quan Huizhi, the church's founder, accepted the gospel in Zhangjiajie Gospel Church and later brought the gospel into Wangjiaping Town. Two or three years later, the local congregation was over 100. At the end of the 20th century, the church that didn't have a penny completed a place of worship at the cost of around 200,000 yuan in just over one year.
Gospel introduced into Wangjiaping Town
Born in 1950, Quna Huizhi was told by her parents and seniors that there was a God in the world, whom they called "a heavenly great master" or "big heavenly eyes". She was deeply convinced of the existence of a true God. She wanted to find Him. Hearing the news that God was in a place, she and other countrymen looked for Him in 1994. They arrived in a Christian chapel where they lived for a week and bought a bible together. Since it was their first contact with Christianity, they didn't understand sermons or Christian liturgy.
On May 14, 1994, she found Zhangjiajie Gospel Church alone. Afterward, she studied the Bible there and shared what she learned with her fellows. Semi-literate, she preached some teachings like "being saved through the faith in Jesus Christ", "The Lord's Prayer", "The Apostles' Creed", "The Ten Commandments", "The Greatest Commandment", and "The Beatitudes". At that time, it took her, her daughter, and other believers four days to walk to the Gospel Church for Sunday services and home again.
Meanwhile, the local congregation invited pastors from Zhangjiajie to nurture them at times. Zheng Xia, Quan's daughter, said that a septuagenarian elder was invited to preach sermons to them several times. The preaching lasted for a couple of days and the maximum time was around one month.
Building Wangjiaping Church
After having found the true God, Quan fervently shared the gospel in her town. The number of local Christians skyrocketed from one to over 100 in just two or three years.
She was detained for over ten days by the local police department who thought she was spreading cults and finally released after a pastor from Zhangjiajie Gospel Church clarified for her.
The local government required Quan to go through the registration formalities for the church. It took her three and a half years to get an approval for a legal gathering place.
In the first years, believers gathered at her home, but the government commanded them to have their own facility when more people joined the church. Quan said,"We had no money when we started the church construction. It started from five thousand yuan borrowed (from other people). I cried for three whole days for the building, thinking that I fell short of the glory of God."
There was a lack of 70,000 yuan to cover the total cost of 80,000 yuan. Facing such a dilemma, some believers even left the church. Knowing the construction news from Gospel Church, a brother donated 125,000 yuan. Even so, the church owed some debts.
"We prayed throughout the construction process," Quan added that they kept moving forward by prayer.
But she had never imagined that her son died of a fall from the fifth floor.
It was a painful experience for Quan, said Zheng Xia. "Unbelievers said that her impious faith in Jesus led to her son's death. Some Christians who didn't understand this said that my mother might have sinned against God, so God took her son away. Anyway, my mother said that she would continue her faith even if she had a bad relationship with God for He would never discard her."
She received 280,000 yuan in compensation for her son's death and donated most of the money to the church.
Moved by the building story, Rev. Chen Zhi, president of the Hunan CCC, shared the story in other places and helped raise 12,000 yuan to pay debts.
Current situation of Wangjiaping Church
With red as its dominant color, the three-story facility has an area of over 400 square meters (0.098 acres) with yellow windows and doors and a silver cross on its top. The sanctuary can hold 200 people.
With rural population displacements, the number of the church's congregation decreases.
There's a division in holding services on Saturdays or Sundays. Plus that some believers live far away from the church, the local congregation is scattered in some subordinate places of assembly. Only about 20 people gather in the church at present.
- Translated by Karen Luo
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