Memorial Service Held for Elder Zheng Datong, Who Coined the Phrase 'Wenzhou, China's Jerusalem'

A memorial service for Elder Zheng Datong was held at the Wenzhou Funeral Home in Zhejiang on May 22, 2024.
A memorial service for Elder Zheng Datong was held at the Wenzhou Funeral Home in Zhejiang on May 22, 2024.
By Li ShiguangMay 31st, 2024

On May 22, the memorial service for Elder Zheng Datong, who coined the phrase "Wenzhou, China's Jerusalem" and was imprisoned for his faith three times, was held at the Wenzhou Funeral Home.

Elder Zheng Datong passed away in Wenzhou at the age of 84. He served as an elder at the Puxieshi Christian Church in Lucheng District, Wenzhou, and had a deep enthusiasm for church history and literature ministry. Holding a doctor of ministry degree, he was a poet and a painter. Since the 1980s, he published books including Revelation Illustrated and The Path of Blessing: A Poetic Life in Christ in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Many couplets of condolences were put up at the memorial service site, and the one in the middle of the hall was “special” because it was a motto by Elder Zheng in his lifetime. The couplet reads, “Great wisdom and courage are all the great grace of God, and unity of heart and mind are all due to walking with the Lord.”

During the memorial sessions, a pastor who knew well of the Elder recalled his life regarding him as a “warrior of the gospel and a soldier of Christ.” He commented that Elder Zheng dedicated himself fully to God for the mission entrusted to him by the Lord, and he was imprisoned three times for the ministry. He testified that Elder Zheng was a warrior of the truth. “If something was wrong, he would point out your mistakes; if you were right, he would point out your correctness.”

A pastor surnamed Hu testified, “We respect him because he was sincere about his faith. Those who have worked with him or contacted him know that he was very sincere with people. He had a profound literary foundation, and his works will have a profound impact. He was a spiritual elder with the demeanor of a pastor.”

As the representative of the family, Elder Zheng’s son expressed his memories of his father, “My father was a man who never retreated. He had a gentle and fearless spirit without any impatience. My father expressed his ideals and beliefs through poetry, depicted the prosperity of China and its people through paintings, and recorded the difficult years experienced by the Wenzhou churches through writings. He was a man full of integrity, prophesying in the order of a prophet and criticizing sharply with sharp words. My father loved his family and deeply loved my mother. He was my mother’s loyal fan, and my mother was my father’s lifelong love.”

An elder surnamed Ye testified that Elder Zheng had always been brave in defending the truth. He recalled that Elder Zheng wrote down the “Wenzhou Church Rules” in 1982, consisting of nine parts with 63 articles, which received support from many. In the early 1980s, when the local churches (gathering places) were impacted by the “Shouters" sect,  some church leaders joined hands to prevent it, and Elder Zheng gave a speech to point out the wrongs of the sect, timely protecting the churches. His trainings, such as “Bible and Language” and “Preaching Methods,” made significant contributions to the churches in Wenzhou.

Elder Ye said that it was worth mentioning that the churches served by Elder Zheng had for many years adopted a parliamentary system and stipulations. He and other leaders stipulated that the general responsible person and the members of a small council could not exceed the age of 60. He said, “It has been more than 30 years since the practice was established in 1990, and many things have changed, but this has never changed. The general responsible person of a church must not exceed 60 years old, and the members of a small council must not exceed 60 years old.”

A pastor also surnamed Ye testified about Elder Zheng’s attitude towards money. Once, after the 512 Wenchuan earthquake, they went to Sichuan to participate in disaster relief. As one of the oldest volunteers from the entire Wenzhou church, the elder served there. At the end of his service, as the place they worked for was close to Jiuzhaigou, a famous national park located in the north of Sichuan, some invited him to visit there. The night before they left, Elder Zheng asked Pastor Ye, “Are we paying for this trip personally or through the church?” Pastor Ye said, “We will pay for our own travel.” Elder Zheng agreed with this answer and believed that the church’s money should not be spent on private matters.

Another pastor recalled that several years ago, when he visited Elder Zheng in his later years, Elder Zheng said, “I am old now. Jesus needs to shepherd His sheep, and the little sheep need to be shepherded. I, as an old sheep, also need to be shepherded. You need to shepherd me now.” From then on, he and his wife attended the evening worship of Pastor Zhang’s church every Sunday. Moreover, in April, Elder Zheng was hospitalized again. After returning home from the hospital, Pastor Zhang and his wife visited him. The first thing Elder Zheng said was, “Christians are destined to go to paradise.”

- Translated by Charlie Li

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