Pastor’s Story: Family Crisis Due to Insistence on Theological Studying

A cross on a mountain
A cross on a mountain (photo:
By Su Ran November 11th, 2022

From the past few years till now, salary and treatment for ministers have received considerable attention. In some regions, ministers are well taken care of, so they do not need to worry about their livelihood. However, in some other regions, ministers are less certain of their ability to sustain themselves. Ministers should give their attention to the ministry of the word, but they cannot earn their livings. When their families are in crisis, which one should they choose, mission or family?

Minister Liang was born in a small town in Henan Province. He followed his mother’s faith and was baptized when he was a baby, but he did not think that he was a Christian since childhood as he stopped going to church during his upbringing. Yet, an illness changed everything. He was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2013. Confronting illness, human beings are so vulnerable and insignificant, and he was reminded of his long-lost faith.

After regaining his faith, Liang started to serve in the church. In order to serve better, he studied in a Bible school in his hometown for one year. Before graduation, a teacher talked to him about his gift of preaching and suggested he go on to further studies. At that time, he had been married, so it was not easy to continue studying. With two schooling children, his family was not rich. He was in a financial dilemma. For the teacher’s suggestion, Liang decided to give it careful prayer and consideration.

“If it was God’s will, I wished that I could pass the exam.” He turned to prayer to seek God’s guidance.

Liang passed the exam successfully and felt relieved. However, his family members disagreed with him. “Dad doesn’t love me anymore. Dad only loves Jesus,” his daughter said so to him when she learned that he was going to study theology. His wife also strongly opposed him. He was once again in a tangle, and he understood their worries, which were exactly his worries. Yet, he could not ignore God’s calling. Despite the opposition of his family, he went to study theology, which laid a hidden danger for his family relationship.

In 2019, he graduated from a seminary and officially worked as a full-time minister in the grass-roots church of his hometown, receiving a monthly salary of 400 yuan. During the last two years of the pandemic, his original monthly salary was suspended in the second half of 2021 due to the suspension of in-person gatherings.

He has two children, the older son is a sophomore, and the younger daughter is in the eighth grade. He provides for his children and sustains the family mainly by doing odd jobs here and there. In September, the beginning of a new school year, he need to prepare living expenses and tuition fees for his children, nearly 20,000 yuan. His work is unstable, sometimes, he can earn 100-200 yuan a day; while other times, he has no work to do for several days. However, because of his church duty, he can not find a full-time job. Every month, he can not make ends meet.

In fact, as soon as he graduated from the seminary, his wife asked for a divorce. “I went through such a big trial as soon as I came back,” Liang said with a wry smile.

Liang wanted to sit down and talk with his wife many times, but she refused to communicate with him and often avoided meeting him. Reluctantly, he went to the Civil Affairs Bureau with her where the divorce procedure is officiated. After being suggested a cooling-off period of one month, Liang did not go to the Civil Affairs Bureau again. His wife stopped going home and went out for work. She blocked all ways Liang can contact her. Now Liang can not find her at all.

During his illness in 2013, studying in the Bible class in 2014, and his theological education from 2016 to 2019, his wife sustained their family for six years. Though she is a Christian, she had to take care of her sick husband and her family throughout the years and did not have much time to go to church. “Gradually, her faith was weakened.”

For Minister Liang, the family relationship is the knot he cannot open. Last year, he had another surgery, and his wife did not contact him either. 

Praying to God is the only thing Liang can do now. He believes that God will open the way for him and that He will help him. Life won’t be so hard all the time.

“Everyone breaks down sometimes, and the road of faith is destined to be uneven,” Pastor Liang confessed.

- Translated by Charlie Li

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