I have learned to serve God for the past forty years that I have believed in God. During this period (from 1977 to the present), there were four representative spiritual predecessors in my church, Songjiang County Church of Shanghai, deeply affecting my thinking about serving God throughout my life:
1. My admirable father
My father was born in 1904 in Zhejiang province and became a Christian in the 1930s. In the 1940s, he participated in the Eucharist of the original Shanghai Christian Assembly (referred to as the Local Church, the same below).
After the establishment of the PRC (in the 1950s), he settled down in the suburbs of Shanghai. At the beginning of 1961, he married my mother and at the end of that same year I was born. In the 1970s, during the Cultural Revolution, because he held prayer meetings in the home of believers, he was mistakenly arrested, investigated at the local public security bureau, and imprisoned for engaging in superstitious activities. After half a year, he was acquitted and characterized as having "internal contradictions among the people". He was forbidden to go around and engage in religious activities after he was released from prison.
After the "Cultural Revolution" (1977), my father went around as his mission of sharing the gospel, especially in the local towns and villages, praying for those who needed the Lord's salvation. The Lord gave him the spiritual gift of healing the sick, and the number of believers increased.House gatherings began springing up everywhere.
In the 1970s, I was influenced by my father and often attended some Christian family assemblies. (At that time, the church building had not resumed being a place of worship). I remember the early time I believed in the Lord, my father taught me about the gospel and how to receive God's salvation using John 3:16.
When the local church was restored (the church was reopened on May 27, 1984), my father was the oldest (81 years) lay preacher. Altogether, my father whom I respected and loved, lived a total of 92 years.
2. A loyal servant of the Lord, Uncle Yu
Uncle Yu, a blind persen, was born in Pudong district of Shanghai in 1910. He studied at the Shanghai School for the Blind (a church School). After believing in Jesus, he began attending the original Shanghai Christian Assembly in 1938. In 1948, he settled down in the suburbs of Shanghai. His wife was also blind, but was very good at playing the piano. After the church was reopened, she served in the church until her death.
Before the founding of new China in 1949, uncle Yu was influenced by the Shanghai Christian Assembly and had a stable faith, respect for the Lord, and pursued a holy life. Because of his pursuit of life, the Lord gave him the gift of singing and evangelism. After the church was reopened, he became a volunteer pastor, and was deeply loved by the believers. He often preached using a short gospel song and would be moved to tears. He would also summon believers, telling them to return their hearts to the Lord. He studied the Bible via gospel radio programs, which was the main source of his preaching materials.
In my spiritual growth, he was my mentor. He often encouraged me in faith, gave me spiritual encouragement, and taught me many praise psalms of life, that have accompanied and encouraged me to walk firmly on the path to following God. At that time (1980s), I was working in a business company. When I was free, I often went to his house as a guest and he asked me to help him copy the hymns. While I read the lyrics, he wrote them in Braille. In the process, I also learned a lot formy spiritual life.
Sometimes, we went to the countryside for evening worship. With his encouragement, I learned to take turns praying, singing and preaching with him. Over time, I have cultivated the mind and habits of serving the Lord in my life.
Because of the influence of uncle Yu's godly life, his eldest daughter believed in the Lord in the late 1970s. In the early 1980s, a place for prayer and worship was set up in his own home where brothers and sisters were warmly received to study the Bible. After the church was reopened, he has been involved in serving as a volunteer.
Uncle Yu, the loyal servant of the Lord, passed away at 85.
3、An amiable lady, Mrs. Ke
Mrs. Ke, an older believer in my church, was born in Hubei province in 1924 and married Mr. Ke at the age of 18. She followed Jesus in Fengjing town, Jinshan city, and worshipped in the local Tianming church. In 1960, she settled down and worked in the suburbs of Shanghai.
After the "Cultural Revolution", her spiritual life was revived. She led each of her daughters to believe in Christ, offering them to the Lord. One of them was later appointed as the elder of the church. Mrs. Ke was very eager to participate and serve as a volunteer in the church. She retired in the early 1980s. Whenever a believer was in need, she was always there to figure things out. She often cared about the needs of believers, went out to pray for the sick, and guided them to trust in Christ. After the church was reopened, she served as the volunteer minister and director of our church administrative board.
During the period of her serving the Lord, Mrs. Ke often was very patient with me and helped me grow in Christ. Once, I did something bad in the church. After she learned of it, she did not blame me, but comforted me, which made me feel guilty to the extent that I never made the same mistake again.
Mrs. Ke, an amiable person, lived 91 years and then she died.
4、A faithful lady, Mrs. Zhang
Mrs. Zhang was born in Liyang, Jiangsu Province in 1919. She came to Shanghai at the age of 17, was baptized at and began attending the worship service at the former Shanghai Christian Assembly. At the age of 19, she married Mr. Zhang who also attended the church. After the founding of the new China in the 1950, she followed Mr. Zhang with his family and immigrated to the suburbs of Shanghai for the gospel.
In 1958, she and Mr. Zhang were imprisoned for several years. After being released, she also was sent away for labor reform for ten years because she was considered a counter-revolutionary. On the day of Mrs. Zhang's release from prison, the prison guard said to her: "I said to you today: 'You just have to say, you don't believe in Jesus, I will release you from prison immediately.'" After hearing this, she turned and prepared to go back to her cell. The prison guard shouted, 'Come back, I am joking. Today you are released from prison. Ask your family to come get you.'"
Mrs. Zhang had never gone to school. She could not read books or periodicals, but relied on the grace of the Lord, learning to read by herself so that she could gradually read the Bible.
After Mrs. Zhang was released from prison, she was accompaned by several old believers who often came to my home to have spiritual conversations with my father and prayed for each other.
My father was very old at the time and had no fixed monthly income. He lived on government subsidies and income from my mothers' casual work. They cared for my family and from time to time offered to help me until I got a job.
After the "Cultural Revolution", Mrs. Zhang still had a burden to preach the gospel, sharing with people everywhere. After the church was reopened, she also actively participated and served in the church as a lay worker. After the worship service, she prayed for believers in need, as well as lead new believers to make decisions to receive the Lord.
She cared about souls, especially those believers in hospice care, so that the families of the deceased were comforted until they were old. Most of Mrs. Zhang's children and grandchildren were Christians, especially the youngest daughters, who had the gift of evangelism and the power in prayer.
Mrs. Zhang, who adhered to the faith, lived for 100 years, a whole century.
(The author of this article is an elder in a Shanghai Church.)
-Translated by Heirs Han