[Interview] A Post-85s Preacher's Family Facing Struggles in Living and Ministry

Holy Grace Church, Zhouzhuang, Kunshan, Jiangsu
Holy Grace Church, Zhouzhuang, Kunshan, Jiangsu (photo: Holy Grace Church)
By Yi YangMarch 9th, 2017

Sister Liu is a post-85s preacher from a church of Jiangsu. Before her conversion, she lost hope in her life and attempted suicide for three times. After evangelized, she was totally transformed. She had served in the church for over two years and got married to a preacher. The couple used to serve in a church of Jiangsu before the birth of their first child. 

Liu states that she had never expected the difficulty of her current life. Apart from looking after her two children, she has to take care of her epileptic husband. Facing the financial stress, she can't bear the verbal wound from the church.

However, she doesn't lose faith in God despite the hardship, pressure and disappointment, believing that the people God uses will go through trials and sufferings.

Three suicide attempts before her conversion

Born in Anhui, she moved to Jiangsu with her family. She began to work at a young age, receiving little care and discipline from her parents who were busy doing business. Her married elder brother and sister both have their own children. Gradually, she talked less with them as the ideological gap widened. "My parents actually love me, but I can't stand the way they love me. They think that we should work hard to make money, so I started working at the age of 17. "

However, the society was strange to her and she didn't know how to get along with others. She suffered from the workplace intrigues. At home, she hardly got warmth and love. She wanted to end her life.

But she who had no love experience desired to taste love before the suicide. She had a boyfriend at 20 while her parents strongly opposed their relationship. Her boyfriend who couldn't stand the pressure from her parents broke up with her. After that, she cried every day. She hated her parents.

Before long, news reached her that her ex-boyfriend fell in love with one of her friends. Feeling completely desperate, she committed her first suicide by drinking a bottle of white liquor.

It failed, but her heart was dead. Within a month, she tried another suicide that turned out to be a failure.

Experience God after talking with a pastor

When she was about to attempt the third suicide, she walked on the road and looked up into the sky, saying to the sky, "If you, God, really exists, I will go to the church. If the pastor can give me the living hope, it shows that you do exist and I will believe in you."

In fact, she stayed in her aunt's home for four years. Her aunt's family are all Christians and she went to church with them. Then she attended a service in a church. After the service,  she talked with the pastor who prayed for her.

When the pastor placed his hands on her head, she felt that a warm current flowed from her head into her heart. It seemed that her broken heart was mended and filled with joy. Despair was gone forever and the long-lost smile was back. Liu claimed that this was the first time when she experienced God and felt his presence.

Desire to become a preacher

She shares that she was eager to work in the church since she was healed by God, hoping that others could experience God like her.

Then she prayed for an opportunity to work for the church.After half a year, God answered her prayer. She was admitted to a factory owned by a church. Later the factory was closed and she started to participate in some ministries of the church.

Get engaged after serving the church for two or three years

Liu tells CCD that her parents and some believers paid attention to her marriage after she served in the church for two or three years, meanwhile, some people around her made advances to her. However, the failure of her first relationship contributed to her prudence in choosing a husband. She turned several men down. 

Later she heard a sermon that suggested her to list requirements for her future partner according to her wish. She followed the advice and prayed based on the list.

Her future husband who studied theology abroad appeared on Sept. 11, 2011 when they happened to chat online. She asked him many Bible questions during the chichat. Since that day, they almost held a video chat every evening. They talked late into the night, most of the time discussing questions on the Christian faith.

Gradually the two fell in love and Liu accepted his professions of love. Before establishing a serious relationship, each of them prayed for marriage. Three months later, the brother returned to China and met her parents. Her parents liked him, therefore, they started a relationship and got engaged on the next Valentine's Day.

She asked a one month leave and came to his hometown to get along with him. Arriving at the seminary where her fiance worked, she was astonished by what she saw. 

Insist on marrying him despite his sickness

She found that the students there were poor teenagers, the majority of whom were ethnic minorities. 

When it was time for dinner, the students ate standing up or with squatting for the canteen only had one table for teachers. It was quite painful for her to have awful food in such a crowded room.

However, what tortured her more was the fact that her fiance has epilepsy. Liu says that her fiance didn't hide his disease during the courtship, who was just unsure about whether he was healed or not. Somehow, his illness recurred.

Knowing this, the leader of her church advised her to leave him, fearing that she would have a hard marriage life in the future and even become a widow... But she didn't follow the advice. Shortly afterward, some believers who learned this tried to change her mind, while she insisted on her decision despite inner struggles.

Their wedding prepared by the seminary and his church went well and her parents were satisfied with it.

"I'm very grateful. He met all the requirements in my prayer. The only thing I regret is that I didn't add this requirement 'healthy and disease-free'. Nevertheless, God's grace is with us all the time. I believe that his disease will absolutely be healed. I also hope that single Christians can pray for their partners, avoiding missing (anything) like I did!"

Double troubles in life and ministry

After they got married, her husband moved to work in her church. The family has an income of 2090 yuan every month, which is the monthly wage of her husband. After they had the first child, she became a housewife and looks after their two children.

She states that their family barely live on his payment. More important, her husband needs to take medicine, which costs more than they can afford. After taking pills for half a year, her husband stopped taking his medication and has lived by faith for more than a year. He has better health. But she felt sad for criticism from the church, strange expressions in the eyes of the people around her and piercing sarcasm.

During the early days off drugs, his service was affected by his poor health. For this, the wife of the church pastor told her that she should return to serve in the church if her children were weaned, instead, her husband should stay at home and look after the two children. She promised that the church would raise Liu's wage after some time if she would resume her service. If her husband continued his ministry, he would receive a higher wage as long as he would be totally healed, otherwise, it wouldn't happen.

Every time when her husband fell ill, the pastor and his wife rebuked him, asking him if he did anything wrong or sinned. The fundamental reason for their attitude lies in his sickness, she says.

People God uses will go through trials and sufferings

"I hope that the church can be filled with love...I appeal that the Chinese church can be considerate of preachers' families, especially financially disadvantaged families or sick preachers. Give more care to them because it's not their fault of being sick. There should be at least less criticism even if the church is unable to provide financial assistance." Liu said in an earlier interview.

She states, "Despite financial struggles and the will to leave the church, my husband and I have prayed for this for a long time and there's a hindrance to leaving the church. Since God arranged our marriage, we don't want to go astray in the ministry and we need to walk in God's way. "

Though disappointed with the pastor's wife, she says, "People God uses will go through trials and sufferings. I can't give up the ministry for this reason, although the church chills my heart. I still need to experience some things."

She hopes that the church can offer help and encouragement to preachers, not necessarily financially. Sometimes verbal encouragement gives people more power and warmth. 

She adds that she may work outside the church to pay rising living expenses as her children grow up and her husband serve the church, claiming that they will seek the guidance from God in prayer.  

Translated by Karen Luo

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