Short Biography of Rev. Lin Zhicheng, Father of Lin Yutang
By Paul Wu, March 07, 2018 03:03 AM
Rev. Lin Zhicheng was the father of Lin Yutang, world-renowned Christian writer and the first pastor in Baizai Church in Pinghe County, Zhangzhou, Fujian Province.
When Lin Zhicheng was nine, his father was shanghaied by the Taiping Army as a porter and his whereabouts were unknown ever since. Lin's mother was just a farm woman who allegedly knew how to box and had great arm strength.
"My father was a pastor and a second-generation Christian," Yutang recalled. We could also learn that his grandmother heard the Gospel, accepted Christ's salvation and became a Christian.
After Lin's father left home, he bore the responsibility of the home. He worked hard as a street vendor. Everyone there loved this young man and his business started picking up. "He had a sarcoma on his shoulder, a result of carrying the pole. It never went away." This memory is an exact portrayal of his father's hard work.
Though Lin couldn't afford to go to school, he deeply understood the importance of education. He studied hard during his part time and soon mastered the abilities to read and write like others.
At age 24, he heard the call of God, so he abandoned his business and went to seminary run by Reformed Church in America, RCA. After graduation, he was anointed as a pastor.
He served in Tong'an Church and others. In 1880, he was posted to Banzai Church.
In 1872, an American missionary from RCA came to Pinghe. Locals in Banzai came one after another to receive salvation in Caihuopu, Wenfeng. Later they returned to their hometown to spread the Gospel and founded Banzai Christian Church which was presided by Lin Wenqu.
When Pastor Lin arrived in Banzai, people were immediately attracted by his witty sermons. He was very good at combining Biblical truth with his jokes so that people could take in the Gospel in a light mood. Moreover, Lin was loud. It was said that people could hear his loud sermon from a distance.
Lin was very compassionate about poor people because of his divine faith and early experience. He traveled around to help the locals with practical problems. He was very familiar with difficulties, such as which young couple had trouble and who had quarrels. He also enjoyed matchmaking, especially widows and widowers.
Above all, he often went out to right wrongs for the locals.
Under Lin's sincere ministering the Gospel spread very fast. With more and more believers, the old small church couldn't fit them all. Pastor Lin motivated believers to donate money, buy land, and expand the church. in 1886, the new church was completed. Around this time, Rev. W. L. Warnis from America made a donation - a 200-kg-clock made from iron. The sound could travel more than 5 km. Yutang mentioned it many times in his book.
Lin valued education very much. In 1887, the church set up Mingxin Elementary School which was a new western-style school. Yutang also went to this school.
Lin was very close with Doctor Warnis. He learned a lot about science, knowledge, and culture and was deeply fascinated.
At the time, The Chinese Christian Intelligencer by Young John Allen introduced Christianity, modern science, and culture. Lin became a loyal reader and never missed a volume.
Lin's fascination about western learning gave him a worldly view that no other Chinese countryman had. He felt that his son must receive a western education and master modern science and knowledge to adjust to the development.
In order to put his son through school, he had to tighten his belt, even selling his property to pay for the expensive tuition. The importance Lin laid on western education played an immeasurable role in Yutang's life.
As the head of the household, Lin never used the traditional teaching "Father guides son" to oppress his son. On the contrary, they communicated, even joked together equally.
Pastor Lin Zhicheng passed away after serving in Banzai Church for 42 years.
-Translated by Grace Hubl
The article was originally posted on the Sina Weibo of Paul Wu. CCD translated it with permission.
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