Visit to 81-Y-O Elder Who Devotes Herself to Church Construction

Gao Wenqin
1/2Gao Wenqin
Xingsheng Church, Anshan, Liaoning
2/2Xingsheng Church, Anshan, Liaoning
By Wu ZhongyiApril 14th, 2021

The Brief History of the Xingsheng Christian Church in Anshan is a total of 16 pages, some printed, some handwritten as well as notes or corrections with a pen. This covers years of painstaking effort for the construction of the church, heartily written by an old pastor of the church. The file is also considered as precious local church literature and historic materials that she is handing down to future generations.

This elderly pastor is Gao Wenqin, 81-year-old, of Xingsheng Church in Anshan City, Liaoning Province.

Xu, an elder of Xingsheng Church, said that Gao has done much for their Church, especially in the construction of the church.

On March 17, 2021, I came to Xingsheng Church and was received by Gao.

Gao used to be called Elder Gao in the church of Anshan City. Recalling the past, especially the construction of the church, she could still speak with great familiarity.

The present Xingsheng Church, formerly known as Anshan Qiming Church which was founded in 1929, has a history of 91 years. According to the Anshan Religious Annals published in 1987, the church was built on the initiative of predecessors such as Hou Yanqin. Its old church site, near Anshan Iron and Steel Group Corporation, Tiexi District, Anshan City, was a typical Chinese courtyard building with black brick and tile-roofed houses. After being sold for the purpose of expansion of the new church, it was then rented as a warehouse. During the Cultural Revolution, the old church was occupied by more than 10 families.

After the reform and opening-up policy, churches reopened in 1990. Gao, as the head of the church, began a long campaign to protect church property rights. She wrote letters to the mayor and district chief, explaining the situation and fighting for property rights. Eventually, the church regained the property right of the old church.

She said, "I am a person without too much culture or special ability. It's not in my power to get the church property back. I am nothing. It is God's power and God's grace.”

In the early days of church reopening, the Qiming Church was a religious place for the Han and Korean believers to worship and gather. Believers were enthusiastic. They did not only fill the church, but also the courtyard, and they even sat on the street. If there were vehicles passing by, they would stand up to make way for it. The three gatherings of Sunday Service were packed to full capacity. They persisted like that for 11 years. Gao, as head of the church at that time, together with fellow workers, prayed to God every day, asking God to open a new way to build a new church.

She added that they purchased an abandoned factory for 1.3 million yuan in 2000. After the purchase of land, they needed to change the land users, which was a tough task. They needed about 70 to 80 seals of approval from relevant organs and departments, but the church did not own a car and they were reluctant to take taxis. She said, “God was helping us to finish the procedures.” After that, they were required to pay the land change fees to the tune of six to seven million Yuan. The believers of the church hastened the pace of prayers, such as evening prayer, fasting, and 24 hours of watchful prayer.

On July 7, 2012, the foundation of the new church was officially laid. The construction cost was estimated at 15 million yuan, and the pastoral staff called on their believers who could afford to lend the church 1,000 yuan each. The funds were soon raised and it took less than two years for the church to repay the money. Some believers in other places also took the initiative to donate actively. When the construction started, the church raised more than 8 million Yuan. The giving spirit of the believers was very warm, some members from Beijing and Shanghai donated to the church, one of the sisters even personally donated 500,000 yuan, and without leaving a name. Therefore, the construction of the church never stopped because of a lack of funds.

Before the church was built, the land had a dilapidated, abandoned factory full of garbage and sundries, which needed to be cleared and leveled. The believers in the old community picked up boards, bricks, and some old materials that could be used again for building the church, which saved a lot of money. Since there was no more mechanized equipment for the construction, some 80-year-old brothers were wielding their picks and trotting along pulling carts. Even some believers who were not in good health still did what they could to build the new church, just like building their own homes. The main body of the church was completed on November 15, 2012.

Gao witnessed, "During the building period, we temporarily held gatherings under several large poplar trees. Amazingly, from that year on, there was not a single caterpillar left on the poplar tree that had been crawling with caterpillars for years. I thought God knew that our sisters were afraid of insects, so He used His loving hands to surround His own people. In the love of Christ, there is no fear."

They also have another testimony that there was a typhoon, accompanied by heavy rain and flood in the year of the building. The rain was so heavy that it could cover one's feet in Tiedong and other places in the urban area, but the construction site of Xingsheng Church continued normally, because God replaced the clouds with rays of sunshine, and the heavy rain did not reach the construction site. It rains continuously in July and August every year in southern Liaoning, but the construction site of the new church did not stop because of the rainy season.

When it came to the use of funds, Gao was famous for being "stingy" as she tried her best to use the limited funds properly. In order to protect the safety of building materials, some of the fellow workers watched the construction site day and night, and some even lived and ate on the site.

The new church was quickly built and opened in 2013. Elder Xu Ling took over the "baton" from Gao and went back and forth to the relevant departments in the city to go through all the formalities for building the church. In 2016, the new Xingsheng Church was dedicated.

Recalling the hardships of building the church, she introduced the church's new team of pastoral workers, full of spiritual wisdom and ability. There is the fellowship for the deaf and the mute, 24-hour prayer fellowship, gospel publicity fellowship, elderly fellowship, youth fellowship and so on. There are also groups of healthcare, ministry service, visitation, computer and books, logistics, electro-acoustic band, and folk music band.

At present,  Gao lives in the church all year round and attends as many church activities as she can. She also helps with the reception of the church when it is closed. 

(The author is a staff writer for the Gospel Times.)

- Translated by Sophia Chen

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