Editor's note: This is part three of the Christian testimony series: the stories of a bicycle preacher who was committed to evangelism and a pastor couple who returns to a small village church after quitting their jobs. (To see part one & part two)
1. Bicycle preacher
The elder brother is a preacher in north-eastern China. When the church resumed just after the reform and opening up in China in the 1980s, evangelization was very difficult, especially in the remote mountainous areas where there was a lack of Christian books, even the Bible.
He was not afraid of such difficulties. Riding a bicycle, with books such as Bible and Shorter Catechism behind him, the preacher visited village by village and group by group. In order not to trouble the local believers, he brought his own lunch and water. In this way, he and his co-workers set up a church in his hometown. Although he was only a preacher with no certificate, with his efforts, the church sent the co-workers to the seminary and then had its own pastors and teachers.
His bicycle was his means of transportation and also carried him to preach the gospel. With a bicycle, he ran around within his reach. Some didn't understand him, and even misunderstood him, saying that he was "insane". He didn't argue with them and was still "obsessed" with preaching riding a bicycle without having any regrets.
In this way, the "bicycle preacher" opened up gathering sites and activity points in nearby villages, and the number of believers gradually increased. When there were major festivals, such as Christmas, they would go to the "big church" to gather. He also paid more attention to young preachers, trained them to go to seminary, and laid the foundation for the church to further develop.
At the age of 69, the elder brother got lung cancer. When he was dying, he was still thinking of evangelism and told his three Christian sons not to forget their mission and continue to preach the gospel. Later, his sons walked out of the mountains and came to the city, and little by little became individual shop owners. However, they kept in mind their father's entrustment and volunteered in the church. No matter how busy their personal business was, they would put down what they were doing to serve the church when they were needed. Sometimes their car became a free "official car" of the church.
2. A couple who serves in the countryside rather than stay in Beijing for a higher pay
This couple is the pastor and head of a church in western Liaoning. Before being full-time pastoring the church, they had a good job: the husband was a teacher in a school in his native place, and his wife worked in Beijing with the qualification as a confinement nurse with a monthly income as high as ten thousand yuan.
But when they heard the dying old pastor calling them to “come back as the church needs you”, the couple quit their job and returned to the countryside church.
As the old pastor had been ill for a long time, the church basically had nobody in charge due to neglect of management, and there were internal disputes. Pastors couldn’t even get a meager salary. On his deathbed, the old pastor gave this tattered and unpopular church to the couple. They didn’t have any assistance or money and were also judged, attacked, abused, and even petitioned by some individuals in the church. They really felt trapped and badly bruised.
As the church was in tatters, the couple repaired it by themselves. The church was short of funds for expansion, so they would go out for help in addition to the believers' offerings and borrow money in their own name. The couple dedicated themselves full time, and even their sons, daughters, and relatives were invited to work for the church. In order to further their studies, they went to study theology. Now the church has grown to more than 300 from just 30 plus believers.
(The writer is a staff writer for the Gospel Times.)
- Translated by Oliver Zuo