Bian Yunbo, the famous Chinese house church evangelist who wrote the poem To Unknown Evangelists and assisted Wang Mingdao in writing ministry, died on February 14, 2018, aged 93. Many pastors and church workers in China paid tribute to his faith and lifelong ministry.
Born in China's northern Hebei Province in 1925, Bian became a Christian in 1944 after graduation from high school. In 1945 he joined in a Christian fellowship while he majored in education at National Central University (formerly Nanjing University) and then became a preacher during college. He rejected the offer to study further in Edinburgh twice and went to Southwest China to evangelize and establish churches after graduation from university.
He served God for over seven decades. He wrote the famous narrative poem To Unknown Evangelists in 1948, shortly after his graduation. The poem was to inspire Christians to serve the Lord and stick to the way of the cross.
When Bian left the borderland for Shanghai, he worked alongside Wang Mingdao, one of the Chinese church fathers. Later he was imprisoned and gave testimonies after being discharged from prison. Afterwards, he went to the United States and worked with Chinese churches there. In his later years, he returned to China according to his will.
He recalled the difficult period for Chinese house churches in the 1950s and 1960s in his book Recalling History in My Declining Years. The book includes his experience in jail for starting a fellowship in his house in Tianjin in 1954, the origin of house churches in mainland China, and the Christian Tabernacle founded by Wang Mingdao and him in Beijing.
It also tells the story of how Chinese Christians gathered under harsh conditions: Wenzhou Christians held prayer meetings in caves in the 1960s and this contributed to the subsequent revival of the church in Wenzhou; a Henan Christian dug a hole under his house for worship; other Christians conducted services and gatherings in tunnels, on board, islands, mountains, in forests and wilderness.
The elderly evangelist shared the stories of the last century in Chinese churches across the world, hoping his witnesses inspired believers not to "overlook Sunday worship services or forget that we should attend services".
"The church are saints rather than a chapel or a building. We, the children of God, are the church. A shabby chapel with a fervent congregation who love one another, exalt Christ, and preach the gospel is better than a magnificent one with a cold congregation," he said.
- Translated by Karen Luo