“All our experiences and our paths are measured by the hand of God himself, for he is in charge of all things. We received a vision from God, so we rose up and built the Shangsi Church. Planning for the future is a path that we have never taken. With almost non-existent material resources, Shangsi started from scratch under the guidance of Pastor Ling Daiming.” (Special Issue of the 20th Anniversary of the reopening of Shangsi Church in Guangxi: The Gospel of Shangsi)
Some readers will be like me. It would be their first time to hear of the surname Ling. Yes, according to Chinese-language collaborative online encyclopedia Baidu Baike: “Ling is Zhu Rong’s great-grandfather and is one of the earliest surnames. Later, people of common descendants took their ancestors’ name as their family name and named themselves Ling”.
On December 12, 2020, together with the brothers of Huang Xiang, who is in charge of the Christian Gospel Church in Shangsi County of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, I met Mr. Ling Daiming, whom I have long known and respected, in an old-fashioned Shangsi County residence called the Bell and Drum Tower.
The 94-year-old elder is still vigorous. Despite his advanced age, he is clear-headed and quick-thinking. As he sat on the sofa, he recalled his beliefs and missionary experiences.
Pastor Ling Daiming shared his experience of faith after he traveled from the mainland to Taiwan in 1949. He was engaged in construction engineering in Taipei. After graduation, he worked as supervisor and site director in the construction industry. His whole family believed in God. He went to a seminary in Taipei twice, for three years each time, on a part-time basis, in order to further his study and serve better. After graduation, he was awarded the Master of "Taoism" and was ordained as a priest. The old pastor told me: This "Taoism" is not our traditional Chinese studies in Taoism. It has the meaning of mission. Pastor Ling, his wife, and the whole family of his children came together to dedicate their house to the use of God in the establishment of the "Christian Church of Blessing and Harmony". From then on, God also gave them a greater house and grace. He preached the Gospel in the church in Taipei until he got too old and applied for retirement.
But the elderly pastor said, "A man cannot retire without a divine plan. I can retire but I can’t rest in vain." At the end of 1996, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Mr. Ling returned to his hometown of long ago, Shangsi County, Guangxi Province, where his sister, Ling Ruqing, lived alone and began to preach the Gospel, using the book of Basic Christian Truth. Photos from that year show believers lining up from the sister’s home to the entire lane, sitting and listening to Pastor Ling preach. Mr. Ling told me very soberly that from scratch, after a period of training, Shangsi County has Christians after the reform and opening up. Twenty-eight were baptized the first time, 30 the second time, 35 the third time, 50 the fourth time. . . Until now, there are more than one thousand believers of Zhuang, Yao, and Han nationalities. Brother Huangxiang, now the head of Shangsi Gospel Church, was one of the first to be baptized.
Mr. Ling recalled the construction experience of the church. How the land was approved, and the designer of brother Kong Guoji from Shanghai, who not only refused to receive a cent for his design fees, but also dedicated funds. From 2004 to 2005, during the construction of the church, Mr. Ling worked tirelessly at the site supervision.
Today, Shangsi Gospel Church is no longer a family gathering. A Zhuang style three-story red roof building, with more than 600 square meters, now towers at the site. The church was awarded the title of "Advanced Collective in the Construction of Two Civilizations" in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
"After more than 20 years of God taking us step by step, when we look back we see the grace of God at work. If there was no past, there would be no present,” he said. “With the present, people are running toward the benchmark. Without the present, there is no future to look forward to. So I say we shall remember the past, work on the present, and prepare to make Shangsi Gospel Church a church honoring God and benefiting the people in the future."
Reverend Ling said that he was grateful to God for his longevity. He said that he eats two meals a day, take naps of two or three hours, and sometimes goes for a walk, keeping writing the memoirs of his church work in Taipei. He told me about a time when he was working in Australia, he got a call from his family saying that his wife had been hit by a car. He wanted to go back to Taipei, but he couldn’t get a plane ticket. He was delayed for a few days and could only pray to the Lord. When he finally bought a plane ticket to get back to Taipei, God had protected and treated his wife, and her injury had already been healed! He said with emotion: "This perhaps is the reason why my whole family respects and worships God!"
The article is originally published by Gospel Times.