The Only Christian Church in Muslim County in Helan, Ningxia

The current gathering place
1/2The current gathering place
Design sketch of the new church
2/2Design sketch of the new church
By Grace ZhiSeptember 6th, 2016

Helan County is located adjacent north to Yinchuan, the capital city of Ningxia Muslim Autonomous Region. It is situated at a mere distance of 8 kilometers away from the centre of Yinchuan City, thus named as "the backyard" of Yinchuan. In May 2016, the very first Christian church was built in this land. 

On the 22th August, I paid my first visit to this church. Red in colour, the building contains 3 floors and a red-painted cross statue hanging on the top. A Christmas tree was put at the doorstep since last year's Christmas celebration. Upon following the church staff inside the building, I came across the main sanctuary situated on the second floor and a live broadcast room on the first floor. Each floot of the building can accommodate up to 300 pax. Thus, the whole building is able to hold 600 pax at its maximum capacity. Church office together with its worship practice/rehearsal hall are all situated on the third floor.

According to the church staff, this building was bought at 20 million RMB in October 2014 as fully funded by church members' offering. As we trace back the church history since 1993, a few believers in Helan initially gathered for worship in a small rented house. In 2003, a sister in church felt so burdened for the need of church that she gave all her saving amounting up to a hundred thousand RMB to acquire a 156-square meter house together with its backyard and kitchen for the church's use. Later on as the church's population grew, the house was no longer able to accommodate all of its members. Therefore, they decided to shift to the current location.

In recent years, the Christian population has grown at a tremendous speed as massive crowd comes from nearby cities, mining zones and villages to the county. During Christmas, many people even have to stand by the road for Christmas service as the church building could no longer accommodate all believers. Though the church has tried renting a hotel hall to expand its worship accommodating capacity, many people are still kept outside the door as they could not squeeze inside the hall!

Since 1995, Helan Church has been requesting from the local government to bid a piece of land in hope of a proper worship venue. Only until 2014 has the church finally gained the official approval. However, the government has actually intended the church to be an iconic building in the region, thus ends up allocating a 6-acres big land for the building project. Upon the completion of design work, the building is officially quoted at 16 million RMB! The elder from Helan Church thus describes his emotions as, "When I heard this gigantic budget, I simply feel like crying."

The financial implication is serious. Christianity first takes root in Helan in the year 1993. Though Elder Zhang has come here to serve the church as early as 1994, believers in this region mainly come from financially humble backgrounds and thus, have very limited ability of tithing and offering. Moreover, the church has already been drained with financial obligation since it bought the previous worship venue. Hence, this gigantic budget of new church building becomes too heavy a burden for them to bear.

According to fellow church staff, some of them have stopped receiving salary due to the church's building project. Through various funding channels and contributions from church members, the church has raised close to 3 million RMB so far.

According to the building plan, the new venue will take up 4000 square meters of land with 5678 square meters of the overall building space and 102.8 square meters of underground space. There will be 4 vehicle parking lots and a 2-storeyed sanctuary(2600 square meters large). Various church ministries will definitely benefit from this venue once the building project is completed.

According to the urban planning regulation, the church building project must kick off within 2 years in order for the land lease to be valid. However, a big sum of 11 million RMB is needed for the building structure to be framed. Thus, brothers and sisters from Helan Church are in urgent need of our prayer for its building project. May God's mercy cover this project through this difficult season.

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