[Interview] Building a Nursing Home for the Elderly: Wish of Elder from Henan

Elder Zhang Junqi
Elder Zhang Junqi (photo: Photo Provided to CCD)
By Ruth WangJanuary 23rd, 2017

Zhang Junqi, an elder from a village in Henan Province, started to believe in God in 1981. At that time his wife had a disease which was not cured for 5 years. Later on she believed in God and her disease was cured. Zhang didn't believe the miracle was due to God. Then he had a headache. He went to repent in front of God in a church. Then his headache was also cured. From then on he decided to serve God.

In recent years he wanted to build a small nursing home in his hometown to take care of old pastors who used to serve God when they were young. Now maybe nobody looks after them due to various reasons. Some old pastors don't have children. Some pastors are disabled. The small nursing home is just the home of them.

Zhang said these old pastors lack care and love. On one hand, it is difficult for the church to allocate human and financial resources to look after them; on the one hand, the common nursing homes in our society pay little attention to the spiritual life of the elderly.

"There are many old believers in the church. Zhang often deals with the old and lonely believers. Many of them have no children and are not able to take care of themselves. He feels upset when he sees them.

At the same time, Zhang said that the times have changed. He has been 60 years old so he doesn't know much about the network. It is difficult for him to use the new teaching style. However, he felt he could take care of the old pastors. In his view, the nursing home is not only about helping the old pastors in the church. It is also an attempt of social service.

To apply his idea into practice, Zhang bought a piece of land. Now the land has also become a venue for church activities. 18 acres of land were used to feed chickens and pigs. The money will be used to support the building of the nursing home.

When it comes to the operation of the nursing home, he has had a lot of careful thinking. For example, the old men should have a natural way of life. So he planned to use traditional ways to keep old pastors warm in winter and cool them off with good water in summer.

He is also thinking about inviting Christian volunteers who hold a grateful heart and want to feed back to the church to serve the elderly regularly. According to the plan, the nursing home will take care of at most 20 old pastors at the same time.

However, he ran into some difficulty when he tried to apply the plan into practice. He was told that civil charity institutions must apply for legal qualifications in local department of civil affairs.

It was not easy to apply for legal qualifications. At the same time, 7 orphans lost their life in a fire caused by electric blankets in a civil orphanage in January 2013. The tragedy has made it harder to apply for private welfare institutions. Even so, Zhang has always been trying to realize his dream. He said "I don't know what the future will be like, but I believe that God will lead and open the way for us."

During the interview with Christian Times, he shared his ideas and goals of the nursing home. He also showed us his design of the nursing home and his efforts,

Dialogue with Zhang Elder:

Christian Times: How long have you been devoted to building the nursing home?

Zhang elder: I have already had the idea for five or six years. I have seen a lot of old pastors in the church. Some of them are lucky because their children take good care of them. The family condition of some pastors is poor. Their family has little power to support them. Some pastors are not so lucky because their children may dislike and avoid them. The old pastors have served God for their whole life. We should let them have a sense of security when they are old and weak.

When you are old, you may find what you can do easily at young age becomes so difficult. At night, you may need someone to fetch you water when you are in bed. I have pension insurance. I also do some farm work. I live a comfortable life. However, I really want to take care of the poor old pastors even just for one or two months. The poorest thing in the world is that you have nobody to rely on when you are old. As long as I can help an old pastor, I will try my best.

The nursing home is for free. Volunteers take care of the elderly. Brothers and sisters will often visit them and sing hymns for them.

Christian Times: What kind of role do you think that the nursing home should play in the church?

Zhang elder: What is renaissance of the church? When the son loves father and the father loves his children, we have achieved the renaissance of the church. Jesus said: "You do the testimony until the end of the world". Our whole life is to witness the existence of God. Then the church could revive. Our family will also have grace and love. The name of God will also be glorified.

A joyful heart is a good cure when we face difficulties in life. A sister had a terminal disease. However, she was happy that she could see God in a couple of days. A few days later, she was magically cured. Another sister had a bad relationship with her mother-in-law before she believed in God. After she believed in God, she would buy her mother-in-law something from time to time. Her husband was happy to see that and bought many clothes for her. The family was more harmonious than before.

Nowadays what matters most is not preaching. Many pastors are good at preaching. They can interpret the Bible with several good viewpoints. However, the most important thing is testimony.

When Christianity began to revive in China, the old ladies in the village were taught a song: "We went through darkness and saw the light. We went from death to immortal. We have no reason to leave Jesus."  

The old ladies just went back home and took out soil and salt from their home (The Chinese word for Reason is Yuanyou, which sounds like the salt and oil in Chinese).

They may have understood the meaning of the song wrongly. However, their attitude was right. Nowadays the sermon in the church is easy to understand. However, we have few good testimonies.

If you live for God, even if you do a small good matter, you will be radiant. Jesus said our light will light others' way. Jesus also told us to do small things with a loyal heart. If we are not loyal in small things, how could God trust us?

If we want the church to influence society, we must do something that ordinary people can't do. The church should serve the society. When Christianity was spread to China, the foreign missionaries also served Chinese society first. Now pastors can't solve their own economic problems, let alone influence our society. We could only have a leading role in love, charity and the relationship between family members.

Now the income of several pastors can't even equal with that of a worker. We have little influence in our society. Jesus said that we are the light of the world. However, now we have fallen behind others. We must devote to charity and help others so that we will have influence in the society. It is easier said than done. However, I believe we can make a change.

Translated by Emma Ma

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