There is a sister who was born in the depths of Luliang Mountain. Her hometown church is located in a small village in Yonghe County, Shanxi Province, which is more than 30 kilometers away from the county seat. However, several people believed in Jesus, and her mother also became a Christian when she was a child. There was no church in the village at that time. When someone was in trouble or turned ill, these believers would sing hymns together (all spiritual songs) and pray for healing from the disease.
Later, a brother from the county seat rode a tricycle to the village to collect scraps and do small business. He was very happy to see those who believed in Jesus and would come on time every Sunday (now he has settled in Linfen, Shanxi Province, and drives a taxi, often serving in the church).
Her mother gathered several believers into her home to study the Bible. People were very eager to read God's words and learn new hymns. The church was then formed in her home.
Over thirty years ago, there were only a dozen families in the village with a few cultural and recreational activities, so the church became very attractive, especially when they sang poems. The unique local folk songs, accompanied with their own original lyrics, as well as the self-made programs at Christmas, were well received by the villagers, which also spread the gospel in a subtle way.
In addition, the church also provided free meals at every gathering with braised dishes and steamed buns. In particular, the church’s love was very touching. There was to be no swearing or any impolite spoken language, in order for everyone to feel great love and respect. Many villagers were Christians. Even some people from the surrounding villages came for the gathering on Sunday, making the room and the courtyard crowded with people.
In this way, her mother set up a church in her own home. She also made donations and purchased goods. Under the guidance of the county church, several sisters established a management team. They read the Bible, prayed together, and encouraged each other in their studies. They also visited sick and poor members with presents such as eggs and snacks, making them feel warm, and cared for orphans and widows, helping them to do the housework and farm work.
When it snowed, the believers also actively cleared the snow. The sisters-in-law started to along with each other, and the relationship between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law got better. Village cadres praised them, "Christians are really good!"
There are up to over 20 believers in the village, but most of them were not baptized due to the long distance. Moreover, the resources for learning God's word were very limited, and almost no one could preach. They would just sing hymns at church, read a paragraph of the Bible, and then pray.
Later, various cults invaded. Some attracted the villagers with small favors, inviting the villagers to follow them instead. They bought gifts and helped with housework and farm work, so some villagers joined them. However, the county publicized and cracked down on cults, and even arrested some. Then the villagers became aware that they were all cults such as the Almighty God and Mentuhui or "Association of Disciples" that claimed prayers after weighing two liang of grains to increase more food). Some villagers quit from them and returned to the church.
But the sister's family stuck to the church. Later, she moved to Linfen while her mother still served in her hometown church. At a family gathering, she took the elders of Linfen to preach sermons there. The elders were longed for by the believers very much and they baptized seven people at a time. Participants was filled with heartfelt joy.
Later, her father had grown old, and her mother was taken to Linfen. When leaving, her mother solemnly handed over the keys and books to other believers and could bear to part. Her mother often wept and prayed, until she was called to heaven.
However, the situation of the village church went from bad to worse. The few early sister believers were still united to manage the church in an orderly manner. Later, the middle-aged members went out to work, leaving only a few elderly and frail believers. They handed over their financial contributions to a sister, who entrusted another person. As a result, the accounts were in a mess.
Speaking of the present situation of the village church, the sisters were full of sadness and often prayed for their hometown church. However, she believed that since God started the hometown church, He will never abandon it.
(The author is a special contributor to the Gospel Times.)
- Translated by Oliver Zuo