Feature: Gen Z Preacher Chooses to Go Back to the Countryside

An aerial view of a village
An aerial view of a village (photo: unsplash.com)
By Richard ZouSeptember 27th, 2022

Born in the countryside beside a developed coastal city, Brother L in East China hopes to help his hometown rural church to transform into a small group pastoral congregation within seven years. "While Jesus spent three and a half years cultivating disciples, I want to spend twice as much time cultivating the Lord's disciples," the Gen Z preacher said.

Since childhood, Brother L often went to attend church meetings held at his grandparents' house. Since he started to learn to read, he has participated in some simple ministries in the church. 

A year ago, Brother L resolutely chose to return to a rural church in his hometown to serve and care for elderly people all day. In today's rapid urbanization process in China, this is an unusual scenario.

A Chinese online Christian media outlet, the Christian Times, interviewed Brother L about why he chose to serve in a rural church rather than woke full-time in a city church.

Brother L gave three reasons for choosing the home church. He thinks that the church in his hometown has always treated him well, and has always supported him. Additionally, he said, "I'm scared that if I serve outside, one day my grandparents will return to their heavenly home and I won't be able to get back in time. "As for the third reason, the young church worker noted that he was considering marriage. Her girlfriend worked full-time in his hometown at the time. 

Brother L recalled taking a minivan every week for a six-hour round trip to another place for ministry while studying theology at the first seminary, most of those six hours spent on rural roads.

Later, he went to another seminary in another place, and often went to the rural church to participate in the ministry. To reach there, he had to take a bus, train and walk.

Due to the vast differences between the countryside and the city, he said, “I never imagined myself as a famous pastor, but just wished to serve solidly.” 

At the same time, Brother L shared, "I used to be able to communicate well with young people but not with old people, but later I found that I am now able to communicate well with old people. During my theology studies, I pastored elderly people in two cities. This should also be an early preparation from God for me. 

He added that it is not difficult to pastor the elderly. "There is a saying that the elderly behave almost like children because what the elderly want is very simple, just chat with them and have heart-to-heart communication and they don't expect much. I think it is very important to serve with love. I want to treat them as my grandparents, then all is not a problem.” 

However, there are still many problems in pastoral ministry. For example, because the background of each believer is different, many elderly people are illiterate and cannot understand Bible passages. Therefore, during the pastoral ministry, Brother L had to guide them hand in hand and teach them to read and so on. Then during the Bible study, such as an hour of Bible study, he would spend about 40 minutes studying the Bible, and then the remaining 20 minutes would be used for communication. He would instruct them on how to practice it—for example, how to study a Bible passage, what it said to the people of the old generation, what it means to us today, and how we should understand and how to practice it.

Now that a year has passed, he has seen many changes and growth in the church. However, since the problem of the preacher's salary and support has not been resolved, he has to find a way to run a business to support himself. 

- Translated by Richard Zou 

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