An elderly man, 94, died of COVID-19 in China's southeastern coastal Zhejiang Province after all rescue efforts failed.
An obituary was released, saying Elder Yuan Xiangzhong of the port city of Ningbo died on January 19.
On January 3, Elder Yuan told us on WeChat, "Thank you for your concern, Hallelujah! I am hospitalized." His family immediately rushed to the hospital from Shaanxi and other places thousands of miles away.
Elder Zhou Fenglou, over 70, from Pulandian Church in Liaoning, said, "Elder Yuan, a loyal servant of God, shepherded believers without complaint or regret and got to heaven at the end."
Hearing the news, a believer left a message: "We are saddened to hear about the death of Elder Yuan." "He gave us Bible messages every morning, and we will always remember his loyalty to the church."
Elder Yuan wrote 81 articles for the Gospel Times, an online Chinese Christian newspaper, and many other faith-related articles for Christian media throughout the year.
When the staff members of the Gospel Times paid visits to him in 2021 and 2022, the old servant in his 90s planned their morning, afternoon, and evening routines in documents, helping for smooth visits. He also got up early in the morning to buy breakfast and cooked in the evening, praying for them when the time came to part.
The articles written by the elder not only revealed the truth about faith but also recorded the church's history in Ningbo, particularly the testimonies of some well-known old pastors and folk preachers.
Staff workers of the Gospel Times shot a documentary interview for him in June 2022, adding subtitles to the video content and "translating" them into Mandarin after hearing his past stories and testimonies.
Elder Yuan Xiangzhong set a good example for us by giving his whole life to God and fighting for the gospel for decades. Now he stopped service and went back to heaven, where no tears and sufferings, diseases, or bonds of sin exist.
The memorial service for Elder Yuan Xiangzhong was hosted on January 20 in the small square of the church where Yuen lived. Hosting the service, Rev. Huang Mingde commemorated the life of the elder, who dedicated his life to evangelism. Rev. Jin Ruijuan, the person in charge of the church, gave a sermon during the ceremony.
Starting on January 19, pastoral staff and believers came one after another to mourn and keep vigil for the elder.
The next day, more than 200 people from the church and congregation went to the funeral and memorial service.
On January 21, Lunar New Year's Eve, the cremation remains of the elder were buried together with his wife, who had returned to heaven in the early years.
(The article is originally published by the Gospel Times.)
- Translated by Abigail Wu