Rural Church With Old, Sick Believers Begins Morning Prayers

A rural church in the central China
A rural church in the central China
By Grace ZhiJuly 17th, 2023

When it comes to rural churches, many would think of problems such as the loss of young people, the lack of pastors, the backward equipment, and insufficient support. However, grass-roots churches also have co-workers who still insist on serving pastors and Christians who simply love the Lord. God not only works in the spacious and bright city churches with abundant talents but also in the rural churches with only the old and sick.

My spiritual hometown is a rural church in North China. As long as I can remember, my mother took me to the church. The church has no fixed place and has moved several times, sometimes in the rented houses of believers and sometimes in the rented houses of villagers. At that time, there were many young people in the gathering. There were many more sisters than brothers, and brothers joining in praise and worship was particularly powerful. People sat or stood and worshiped God together, while the children played outside or slept in their parents' arms. Sometimes they woke up in a daze during the praise, peaceful and satisfied. This is the picture left in my mind from the beginning.

With heavy study tasks, I never went to church again. Later, I went to another city to study, and I heard from my mother that the government had granted the church a place so that it could build its own church. During this period, some believers left the village and went out to work or help their children with their babies. Only occasionally did they come back for a few days and show up at the church. Gradually, the church was left with only the old and sick. My mother was on the finance staff of the church. With a scarcity of talents, she gradually became the backbone of the church and served every affair, from church construction to Sunday sermons, church receptions, and garden planting.

Occasionally, she would ask me some questions about God and ask me points regarding a collection of sermons. When I was home occasionally, she would invite me to church. As they all knew that I was serving, they would force me to go on stage for exhortation and prayer. The sincere and enthusiastic faces were full of enthusiasm and love for me from a younger generation.

During the pandemic, churches could not gather. They set up a WeChat group and started online worship. At the time of worship, the preachers would send the prepared recordings to the group. Sometimes the preachers had no time to prepare the teaching, and they would find an article in the serial sermons from other pastors for the group.

After restoring in-person worship, they resumed the gathering as soon as possible. The church has gatherings every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, including praise and worship meetings, prayer meetings, and Sunday services. My mother said that they recently resumed morning prayers and excitedly shared a witness with me.

Aunt Chen, who is about the same age as my mother, has been in poor health and has always felt weak since the first pandemic wave. She went to a big hospital in the city and took medicine for nearly half a year, but she never improved. After a gathering, my cousin gave my mother a few onion seedlings, and my mother planted them in the church yard. Aunt Chen saw my mother busy there alone, so she came with another sister to help her. As a result, she felt very bad when my mother met her the next day. My mother learned that she basically did not sleep all night. She said, "If I don't help you, there are all the old and sick. No one can help you. But if I help you, I feel so bad about my body that I didn't sleep all night."

Listening to Aunt Chen's experience, my mother was very surprised. "How can you be so serious with such light work? This is not right. Let’s go to the church tomorrow morning to pray and ask the Lord for treatment." The next morning, they went to church to pray, and Aunt Chen began to build up her confidence. She said, "I went to see a doctor everywhere, and I spent RMB 10,000 on curing and medicine. But I never improved at all. From today on, I will stop taking medicine and concentrate on praying for God."

In this way, on the third and fourth days, they went again to church early in the morning to pray, and slowly other brothers and sisters followed. In this way, Aunt Chen got better magically after a week. Moreover, the church's morning prayer has also begun to resume through this. The number of people participating in morning prayer has increased from two or three to more than a dozen now. My mother said that as more people joined, they began to arrange for people to take turns opening the church door.

My mother on the other side of the phone was full of gratitude and joy. She said that when the burdens were too heavy for her, she would entrust them to God through prayer. She is praying for the church's development, for each of our children, and for God’s blessing on our work and lives.

- Translated by Oliver Zuo

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