She is a member of the disability group in my church. Only 60 years old, she has been partly paralyzed for more than 10 years. With white hair, she walks with a wooden stick. In people's eyes, she always wears thick clothes and has a pungent smell, because of which they don’t welcome her and instead they just think she is "strange” and even a little annoying.
But this does not affect her love for God at all. She would always stumble to church every service whether it's windy or rainy. In addition, many important festivals such as Christmas, Easter, and the New Year's Eve Prayer Meeting and the Sunday Evening Prayer Meetings are all held in the evening, but she would always attend every time.
On cold winter nights, sometimes it was past ten o'clock after the service and there was no bus left, she walked home, one step at a time (her home is more than three miles away from the church), and people around her did not understand why she was so determined to go. Moreover, when the old pastor was called to heaven and sometimes the church would hold a memorial service, she also insisted on going there and waited outside the church doors as early as six o'clock...
This sister comes from a rural mountainous area, and her family was less fortunate. A few years ago, her husband was tricked into participating in fund-raising in other places, which led to more economic difficulties. She lives in a shabby room on the third floor of a dilapidated factory area (you can imagine how difficult it is for her to go out every time).
Her child has grown up but not yet married and she has no decent furniture in her only room. She does not have a job, but the difficult days before did not stop her from loving the Lord. She often went to church and small gatherings by bike. After she got sick, she stumbled to church meetings on crutches when she got better.
It was near dusk on a December day last year when we went to visit her again. We knocked on the door for a long time but there was no response. Seeing the room was also dark, we had to turn back, but we met her standing in the cold wind on the way. She said with tears in her eyes, "You come and see me, but I can't do anything. I really don't deserve it...”
We found out that she had gone to visit a sick sister.
Once a group was rehearsing a program, and she insisted on participating in it. Although some people were reluctant, she was finally allowed to participate after much persistence.
She appeared on the stage on Christmas Day for the first time. There were many people upstairs and downstairs. The handicapped and the blind stood in two rows, and they sang and praised the Lord. All the audience burst into thunderous applause. Later she also burst into tears and said, "I used to be a member of the choir, but today I am on the stage again. Thank God! Thank God! "
She was a little out of control and as a result some believers were quite critical of her, and some people even said, "If she is still that excited in the future, don't let her go to the stage.”
Despite what people had said, she has been on stage and performing with everyone for years, just to satisfy her desire to love god.
I often preached at a big church in the city, and she always listened to me, asking for the manuscript of the sermon. She not only asked for it from me but also asked for it from the other pastors.
There was a time when this behavior of hers annoyed me a little, and I thought, “she always asked so many times, would she read them all?” Later I realized that perhaps being asked for the manuscripts of my sermons after being listened to was also good for improving my preaching skills.
Later I got into the habit of giving her an extra copy of each set of sermon notes and gave it to her directly after the preaching.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, believers were not allowed to enter the church, so only videos were recorded. I could not see her, nor did I give the manuscript to her in time. However, this old sister took the bus several times to get to my house from a dozen miles away, and if I happened to be out, she would wait at the door until she got the manuscript.
Last Sunday after I finished my preaching I had planned to give her the manuscript when I saw her, but I did not make it.
Unexpectedly, on Monday noon, as soon as I entered the community door, she sat at the door and waited for more than an hour. I immediately brought her the sermon manuscript. She smiled with contentment and insisted on giving a little food to me.
She said, "You have worked hard. Please don't make me be out of control, which my body can't stand. I am content to read God's Word...”
I wanted to see her off, but she would not let me do that. I could only look at her back which went far away, and tears blurred my eyes...
(The author is a church co-worker in Linfen City, Shanxi Province.)
- Translated by Stephen Huang