Editor's note: The Chinese people felt mournful after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck Sichuan Province ten years ago. After the disaster, a large percentage of Christians joined in the relief work. The author is a female preacher who serves the affected areas Mianzhu and Chengdu with her husband for a decade. The article is her recollection of the past ten years.
The author's preface: These days around May 12, 2008, when an earthquake hit Sichuan, I found the articles about the earthquake that caused more than 70,000 deaths and another 18,000 missing flooded my screen. It touched my secret heartstrings. I stepped on an unexpected journey because of the event.
My husband and I accepted the gospel in our hometown Shanxi in 1994 and four years later, migrated to Tianjin for work.
We joined a local church in 2000. At the end of 2007, my husband who was a factory worker told me that God called him to be a full-time worker. Hearing this, I questioned it because he never received any equipment or had any relevant resources. Moreover, we needed to support our child.
One month later, he resigned from his job, saying that he must obey the calling from God and believed in His guide, even though he did not know where he was going. I asked him to find a job, argued with and threatened him, but it didn't work at all. The next March he returned to the church in our hometown where a theological training was held at the time. Luckily, he attended the training. I continued to work in Tianjin and even grumbled against God for this issue.
On May 12, 2008, an earthquake took place in Sichuan. Ten days after the disaster, my husband and some ten believers got into the affected areas as volunteers, serving injured and disabled people, distributing relief goods, and comforting families... That September he returned to Tianjin and shared his experience in Sichuan. He said that God wanted me to go there, too.
I refused him, but he added that if this was God's calling, He would move me. I tried to avoid the idea in the following week, but he talked about the idea again on the next Sunday. I chose to evade the issue, but the verse Luke 9:62 - "no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" - welled up from my heart. Enlightened that the calling was from God, I bowed my head and prayed, "Lord, I'm willing to obey you."
The second day I quit my work and one week later, I came to Sichuan with my husband, starting our new life journey.
The ministry lasts for ten years, filled with joy and grace
Having lived in north China for about forty years, I set foot on the southern part. Despite stakes and rubbles, makeshift shelters, tents, and bungalows seen everywhere, there were green mountains, trees, and clear streams, which were wonderful creations of God. God also healed the stomachache I had for almost twenty years.
While we evangelized people, we studied the Bible, founding ourselves so lowly, insignificant, and deficient. However, God chose us. Christians who stayed here also felt the same. At a mission prayer meeting, people were amazed at great things God did among us.
Living in a tent for three months, we helped a sister who lost her husband and son in the disaster run her parterre. During the period, we sang hymns to start the day, then read the Bible beside the bed, learned to sing hymns and prayed. It was filled with joy.
Later we moved to another town where locals were averse to the gospel due to some bad deeds performed by local Christians. We contacted these Christians and guided them out of deviation from truth. We often shared the gospel by chatting with people when buying necessities.
One day suffering from a sore throat, I consulted a doctor in a clinic. Through the chance, I introduced Jesus to him. His wife, also a Christian, talked with me. She accepted the invitation to attend our Sunday service, who later became a pastor. Although she was a taunt to her non-Christian relatives and sacrificed a lot, her spiritual growth was a blessing to her family.
We also worked with other gatherings. We frequently helped Christian families with farm work, preached to neighbors and passers-by in courtyards and on ridges between fields, and even dispensed gospel tracts to people at crowded junctions when temple fairs were held.
We went through all kinds of difficulties, like denying ourselves, pastoring problems, and financial challenges. We knew many Christians who gave us love and care.
However, we owed much to our parents and son. I couldn't look after my sick mother who was struck by cerebral infarction for two times. She was taken care of by my father in his seventies. They just told me to do the work of God's house and not worry about them on the phone.
For my son, my absence contributed to the distance in the parent-child relationship. But my son returned to God in 2017 and wanted to be a missionary.
In recent years, our financial support was stopped. So we also worked part-time while studying the Bible and doing the ministry. Without much care and support, our love didn't decrease, but we knew more about His majesty, sincerity, and glory.
We will continue on the road as ever. Once conditions permit, we will walk into unconquered lands to serve God.
- Translated by Karen Luo