Elder Li Jianhua, from Shandong province, lives in a family of five generations who are all Christians, with his grandfather being the first generation of Christian to his grandchildren. He is the third child in his family, and he and his second elder brother are both preachers.
They all have set good examples to the locals. Now, his grandfather and father have all passed away. Elder Li, at sixty years old, said that from his grandfather to his grandson, who are Christians, all have their own experience in Lord.
Elder Li's grandfather's story
Elder Li's grandfather is the first Christian in his family. When he was a soldier serving in Zhang Zijiang's company under general Feng Yuxiang, Zhang, a Christian, gave each solider a small Bible, by which his grandfather started to know God.
Once on a combat mission, grandfather fell into a river. In desperation, he began to pray to God. Thankfully, he reached out and caught a knot of the branch of an elm tree, pulled himself out and survived. After this, he committed himself to the Lord and became a Christian. Later, he returned to his hometown with the small Bible that he had gotten from Zhang. During the Cultural Revolution when all Bibles in his family were confiscated, it was the only one saved by hiding it in the chicken coop.
After the reform and China's opening up in 1979, religious activities were allowed, and this small Bible became a rare treasure.
Elder Li's Story
Due to the particular circumstances of that era and because he was a Christian, Elder Li was under his family's supervision. Therefore, he did not go to high school. He did however, not complain and trusted that all things he faced would not happen if God would forbid them.
He also remembered, around the year 1964, he went to a Bible study with his family members. Later, the church he went to stopped, and then he attended the Bible study at a believer's home, which later was also not allowed.
Right at about that time, Li's story of his encounter with God happened.
At that time, he had had a fever for a long time. He went to the doctor and took penicillin for a week, but he still didn't get better. While his mother was cooking, she heard a voice saying, "God is the best healer. Where else do you want to go?" She suddenly realized that ever since the Bible study had stopped, they had almost forgotten to pray to God. Thereupon, they prayed together. When they were eating the meal, Li asked for a bowl of water and after the meal, he recovered.
Li's eldest brother's story
When church restarted, Li's eldest brother was not active in this. He felt strongly that the Scriptures in the Bible contradicted each other, something he could not understand or accept.
At that time, he was a carpenter and started to build brick houses for others even though he was pleased with his own house. One day while working, by accident he carelessly cut off the large tendon on his foot and so could not walk. He stayed in the hospital for 40 days, but has failed to walk normally again even after repeated treatment.
There is an expression, "man's end is God's beginning". He went home and prayed and pleaded with God. Eventually his foot was healed. Today he is more than 70 years old with no trace of any problems with his foot.
Elder's second elder brother's story
In 1998, Li, together with his second brother and other Christians in his village purchased a piece of land to build a church.
While building the church, they asked some large trucks from the coal mine to bring some earth to lay the foundation. Unfortunately, his second brother, who was directing the truck's backing up, was pushed directly against the wall by the truck, and run over. He himself felt that his ribs had been broken. But several doctors did not find any injuries.
He later said that he felt some amazing sensation, like a wind, flowing though his body. He returned home and laid in bed for two days. By the third day, he was able to preach in church..
Li believe it was a miracle from God. This encouraged the believers to continue and finish the church's construction.
Some time later, he participated in a volunteer class of Shandong Theological Seminary, and now he has also been ordained and has embarked on a road of dedicated service.
Li's second elder sister's story
In 1984, Li's second elder sister had a business making and selling tofu. She had already gotten married and would feed her two pigs with soybean curd residue from her family's business. One time, she took the soybean curd residue that still contained the fermented drink made from the ground beans. Failing to make them into toufu, she and her husband drank the uncongealed beancurd. That night they both had stomach pains and around midnight felt very uncomfortable. Her husband even vomited.
She went to the hospital, got an injection and went home. Mark 16 says that if you drink anything deadly, it will not hurt you. Li's second elder sister and brother-in-law experienced this promise from Scripture. All the while, his sister was warm-hearted in her faith and her family were all Christians.
Elder Li's nephew's story
Elder Li's nephew is no more than a few years younger than him. When his nephew was still a kid, he fell down into a well because he was too young to step over it. While floating on the water with his legs in the air, he was later pulled out by four adults. The neighbors said that the well god had protected him, but the family knew it was the One in heaven who had protected him.
Elder Li said, his father was 94 when he left this world to be with the Lord, and had always been in good health. In 1996, he went out for a bike ride before a heavy snowfall. When it snowed, he stayed home and passed away the following day.
His mother was also very devout and loved God. When she was 14 years old, she experienced God first hand. At that time, she had stomach pain. Reminded by her grandfather that Jesus had been healthy for 33 years, she started to pray. From that day on, she has never been ill. Now, she is already 93 years old.
Current situation of Elder Li's family
Through different eras, before liberation to after liberation, and then into the opening up era, Elder Li's family has hosted many pastors and his mother's serving them is little known. The older mother often prayed for the marriage of her four sons. Then four sisters-in-law came to Elder Li's family and believed in the Lord.
Now Elder Li's children have all been baptized. His two grandchildren attend Sunday School. His son is so busy that he seldom goes to church, and his daughter is studying theology in eastern China.
Since 1990, Elder Li and his second eldest brother have for nearly 30 years been running a small factory together. They used the profits of the factory to build a church, support missionaries and do some Gospel-related work.
A few years ago, the CCC/TSPM in Zoucheng City, Shandong Province, needed 7 million RMB to build a main church. The two brothers donated a total of more than 3 million RMB which was all the assets of their factory at the time. Now the church owes about 1 million RMB in debt, but they are already planning to open a nursing home.
Elder Li said it is a pity that a lot of people now are not as zealous as before. People used to walk dozens of miles to attend a Bible study. However now they are reluctant to go to church, even if it is near their home. The more comfortably they live, the less their soul longs for God.
He also said that many Christians like to hear testimonies, but it is not enough to just listen to others. The most important is that everyone should have their own experience of God, without which one would not be able to stand in the face of great difficulties and setbacks.
If one had a life and death experience like his second eldest brother did, all other things that happen in life wouldl not matter much any longer.
However, he also said that everything cannot be generalized. Even thoug some don't have such an experience of God, they are still very enthusiastic. Like the believers in Macedonia who proved to be true believers, they were zealous and loved the Lord. "
It is true that serving God is not in vain, and laboring for the Lord is not futile (it is never wasted or of no purpose).
- Translated by Sophia Chen