In a beautiful village in China's southeastern Fujian Province where most people leave for opportunities in big cities, the seniors and young children are unfortunately left behind. However, a famous local church created a "haven" to lessen their loneliness.
In 1870, missionary Cartairs Douglas came to Jingmei Village from Zhangpu. In 1902, Wuzhai Christian Church was built in Xinmei (old Jingwei Village). After China's economic reform in 1987, a new church was built on the old site with an area of more than 310 square meters and can hold more than 400 people.
Today, it has become a renowned Gospel village with 406 households and 1,433 Christians. However, it is also "poor" because more than 200 households migrated to big cities for work, leaving 153 people over 60 years old and 68 infants and children behind.
In 1990, the church specifically made a space of 40 m2 so that the left behind children could attend daycare. It was the first daycare in the county run by the church. Elder Zhuang Wenshui, director of the church, worked as the principle. He was also the first male daycare principle in Pinghe County.
Later, with great support from loving people in the society and three volunteers, Yituo Daycare set up a "Love Den" for left-behind children, also the first in the county. It has since nourished nearly 200 children and was rated "Model for Caring Left-behind Children" by the county.
A survey of over 100 students in the village in 2010 showed that 70% have at least one parent working away and 75% felt lonely. Most seniors in the village look forward to phone calls from their children at least once a week and a family reunion at least once a year. Local seniors and children both share a hunger for love and family time.
The church has been preparing the campaign of a "Happiness Recreation Center" since 2011. The first floor will be a community center for seniors, second floor for women and children, and the third floor for young people to study.
Elder Zhuang's oldest daughter took the lead and donated her golden necklace, then her whole family joined her. Eventually, the church raised 1.01 million yuan from believers' donation and support from the society.
The "Happiness Recreation Center" sprang up next to the church and is already in use. It covers 6.67 acres with an actual floor space of 677 m2. It has also became the village's recreation center.
Since the church resumed services, it has nourished six pastors and two preachers. There are currently nine elders and volunteer preachers. Elder Zhuang Wenshui, who was well admired by the locals, was retained as the county' CPPCC standing member. He actively engages in political administration and has been promoted as "Advanced Individual" and "Merit Civilized Religious Personnel." All Christians respond well to the government's call to "strive for a well-off life" and "targeted poverty alleviation." Brothers of the church voluntarily help in road repairing and bridge building. The village has been nominated for "Clean Home Village" many times.
There are always wonderful stories about the villagers: no one exploits the forest; there is no gambling, heresy, or cult activities. Everyone obeys the law.
In 2007, the village was awarded "Outstanding Unit for Carrying Out Legal Education of the Fifth Five-year Plan."
In 2002, the church was awarded "Merit Religious Venue" by Zhangzhou Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs.
In 2015, it was voted "Philanthropic Church" by the county's Charity Federation. The church's exemplary deeds were reported by many domestic media.
-Translated by Grace Hubl