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Over 80-Y-O Church Leader Tells Story of Gathering Site in Jiangsu

Over 80-Y-O Church Leader Tells Story of Gathering Site in Jiangsu

 A picture of Chen Zhenghua, an old leader of a church in Danyang City, Jiangsu Province A picture of Chen Zhenghua, an old leader of a church in Danyang City, Jiangsu Province
ByLi Zhen April 19, 2022
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An old female church leader shared the development of a rural meeting point in Jiangsu province, from a single believer herself alone to dozens of followers, from gathering at home to renting a warehouse, to building the first church and finally the new church building in use today.

A rural church (also referred to as Picheng Meeting Point) is located by the Yingfeng River in Linchang Village, Danbei Town, Danyang City, Jiangsu Province. Chen Zhenghua, an 84-year-old female believer, who used to be the church leader, lives in the churchyard, witnessing the changes of the church. 

Chen was the first believer in the meeting point which started in 1980.

Chen received the gospel in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, when she visited her cousin-in-law at home who had believed in Jesus before the end of Chinese War of Liberation in 1949. She asked a pastor to pray and preach the gospel to Chen in poor health.

"Are you willing to follow Jesus?" her cousin-in-law asked. "Yes, I am. Jesus is so amazing that I can't reject Him," Chen responded happily.

After the pastor prayed for Chen, she was asked to pray as well. "I don't know how to pray, as I just listen to the gospel for the first time." But upon insistence of the pastor, Chen finally prayed briefly, "Jesus, you are God whom I trust in. You are so great that not only I should rely on you, but also other people."

After listening to Chen's prayer, the pastor happily said that it seemed Chen would share the gospel. However, Chen felt hesitant at the pastor’s comments, since she was most afraid of socializing with others, for which most of the time, she stayed at home alone. "When the time comes, God will open your mouth," said the pastor.

With the pastor’s prayer, Chen recovered her health. Once she returned to her hometown in Picheng Village, she began to preach the gospel.

"After I came back, more than a dozen people came to me to believe in Jesus within a month. In less than two months, my house was full of believers." Recalling her initial experience of doing the evangelism ministry, Chen was very excited, "Anyone turning to Jesus was immediately healed. Those who were sick got well, and those who would get divorced stayed happily married. They said it was wonderful to come to faith.”

When the number of believers increased to about three dozen, her house was not big enough to host gatherings, so some people had to sit outside the house. Finding a proper venue became urgent. Later the church rented and renovated a simple warehouse used by the local production team to raise silkworms as the meeting point venue.

The warehouse had served as the meeting venue for three years till some villagers intended to use it to set up a factory. Therefore, the church had to find another way out since they failed in negotiating to maintain the lease.

After moving out of the warehouse, the church hoped to build its own building. The only place available was a one-mu (0.165 acre) pond by the Grand Canal. Chen recalled, "Believers made up their minds to fill it up. Every weekend for a whole year, they collected and carried soil wherever they could find to fill the pond. Even 80-year-old senior people participated using their washbasins and small urinals."

"How can you build a church with no money?" Faced the doubts of others, Chen just said calmly, "Take time and ask God for help." Thanks to the efforts of all the believers, they finally had their own spiritual home.

With its own church building, the church developed a waist drum dancing team and a band, in which members played both folk and Western music instruments. Then, the church was not only able to provide a better worship environment, but also accommodated believers, receiving sick Christians to live in the church for a month, and even for up to half a year.

Because the church was built on a filled pond, unfortunately its foundation was not solid and it was also located on the edge of the Grand Canal. For these reasons, slowly cracks appeared in the church which became a dilapidated building. The church asked the relevant departments for instructions, hoping that they could rebuild a building in another location. The land was designated in 2009, in December of which year the building with a construction area of more than 2,000 square meters (0.494 acre) was completed .

Picheng Church reserved a suite for Chen in the courtyard of the new church, paying her retirement allowance. Her daily activities include growing vegetables in the open space for her own use and receiving visitors who come to ask for intercessory prayers.

Elder Chen Lingdi, chairman of Danyang Municipal TSPM, said that Chen had suffered a lot with tears to seek its development and had laid the foundation for the church. The new church leader, Yin, who respects Chen very much, gets along very well with her, setting an example of respecting and appreciating the elders, the elder added.

- Translated by Shuya Wang


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