Island Evangelist: Overcoming Paralysis, Spreading Faith for 30 Years

A picture of an island in the shape of a heart
A picture of an island in the shape of a heart (photo:
By Steve Sun August 9th, 2023

This is the story of an island evangelist who was once a paralyzed patient abandoned by doctors but miraculously healed and has been watching over an Island for the past 30 years.

Doctors declared pastor Tang Xiaomu (a pseudonym) permanently paralyzed due to an accident before he became a pastor. Later, because of Jesus, he stood up and became a channel of blessings for a small fishing village on an island.

Recently, this pastor shared his journey of faith and service over the past 30 years with the Christian Times, a Chinese online Christian newspaper.

Born into an atheist family, pastor Tang worked as a construction contractor forty years ago when he was an unbeliever. He earned a good amount of money but fell into bad habits. Out of boredom and seeking excitement, he obtained explosives and often used them to catch fish by blasting at the seashore of an island. Once, after a fishing explosion, a large rock dislodged due to the blast and fell on Tang, pinning him underneath.

The pastor recalled, "My abdomen was torn open, my lumbar spine was crushed and dislocated, and a stone was inserted into my rectum about 20 centimeters."

"After being hospitalized, my consciousness began to blur, as if my soul had left my body. The doctor said that if I continued to worsen, I might die. Later, my mother, because of my illness, began to get involved with the church."

During Pastor Tang's high fever, his father cared for him in the hospital. When they were at a dead end, his father told Tang to pray.

He stated, "After I finished praying, I felt my soul come back, and then I fell asleep. When I woke up again, the high fever had completely subsided."

Due to his long-term paralysis in bed, Tang's body had withered to around 40 kilograms. His skin was over his leg bones, and he suffered muscle loss.

Lying in bed, he persisted in praying for three hours and reading the Bible for three hours every day.

"After half a year of reading the Bible and praying, one day I suddenly felt a sensation returning to my body. My brain could control my bladder and bowels again. Then I felt the soreness and pain in my legs. As my body regained sensation, I was eventually able to stand up."

Pastor Tang started to practice walking indoors using crutches. After countless attempts at standing and falling, he gradually learned to walk. He then told the Lord in prayer that if he could step out of his house, he would serve Him in the future.

The Lord answered his prayer. However, he considered that if he were to marry and have children, he would need to earn money to support his family. He also found out that being a pastor didn't have a salary. Therefore, he started a restaurant business and even opened a chain of restaurants. But he became so busy that he couldn't even attend church gatherings. One day, a female believer who had traveled a long distance came to visit him in his hometown. She had heard about Pastor Tang's story of healing and was upset to see him running a restaurant. She said with anger, "God won't abandon you because of your opportunism and betrayal. You need to repent."

"These words struck me deeply, and I couldn't sleep all night. The next day, I told the Lord that if all the items in the two stores were sold out that night, it meant that He wanted me to follow the path of serving Him. As a result, the eggs, drinks, and alcohol were all sold out that night. I immediately closed the restaurants and went to study theology."

He barely passed the theological college exam. In 1989, three years after his injury, he spent a year in theological training. After graduating, he became a pastor at the church in his hometown.

One day, Pastor Tang met a man selling rice noodles in the church. He introduced the situation of an island about two or three kilometers from the church where Tang served. He said that almost no one on the nearby island believed in the Lord. After hearing this, pastor Tang felt a strong desire to go there to preach. So, during the day, he went to the island to spread the gospel every day and returned to his church in the village to stay at night.

The first three years of evangelism on the island were very difficult. Due to Tang's back condition, he had to walk bent over, hobbling to the island every day. He went from house to house sharing the gospel, often enduring hunger.

He said, "At that time, almost no one would receive me. Almost no one wanted to listen to me, and some who were educated wanted to argue with me. I didn't know how to argue with my little theological knowledge. I just shared my real experiences and the testimony of my faith."

"One day, after coming back from preaching the gospel, I hadn't eaten all day. I knelt on the beach to pray. After I finished praying, I suddenly found a 50-yuan bill on the sand, which I used to buy dinner. Throughout the three years on the island, I almost picked up all the money that had fallen. There were two dimes, or one yuan, which were enough for me to buy water and sometimes even bread."

After preaching for three years without anyone believing, pastor Tang was considering leaving. The next day, a family came to find Pastor Tang on their own. They told him that as long as he dared to dismantle their temple, they would believe in Jesus.

After Pastor Tang removed the temple, the first family that believed asked him to remove the idols from their home.

After those three years, the fishing village saw new families convert to Jesus every month. The weekly gatherings would continue until around 9 o'clock in the evening. But Tang was injured multiple times due to reasons such as dismantling idols, and he was hospitalized three times.

He continued that he once visited the home of a female believer who had suffered from domestic violence. Her husband was already standing on the roof with an axe, waiting for them. After they entered the house, Tang saw that her child had a high fever and was emitting white smoke all over their body. They began to pray together. In less than a minute, the child woke up.

After those three years, nearly 100 families on the island came to believe. Pastor Tang then established a church.

Tang has a son and a daughter, and he is now a grandfather. The doctor had previously said, "It's impossible for you to have children. You should be content to be able to walk."

Due to the existence of the church, the village's culture improved, and the people became more industrious. Developers began to invest and build factories there. As a result, the roads in the area became more accessible.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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