The Gospel Shines in Mountains: Visits to Three Remote Churches in Shanxi

A picture of the front gate of the Caocun Church in Linfen City, Shanxi Province
1/2A picture of the front gate of the Caocun Church in Linfen City, Shanxi Province
A picture of one of the churches' chapel in Linfen City, Shanxi Province
2/2A picture of one of the churches' chapel in Linfen City, Shanxi Province
By Zhang XiaohuaDecember 18th, 2023

Recently, I visited three churches in the mountains with several colleagues.

On December 7, the visiting group came to a small village in the mountains of Linfen, Shanxi Province. A small courtyard with only three small rooms is the church of Cao Village. It was learned that this was the village's primary school before the church purchased it to use for worship. Entering the church, I saw some believers chopping wood, some cleaning the rooms, and some washing utensils. They were preparing for the coming Christmas.

Cheng Xinzhen, the Christian in charge of that church, is more than 80 years old and has been serving here for many years. With many villagers leaving the village due to their children getting married or going to school, there are now only about a dozen believers in the church. A period ago, Zhang Lianzhen, a believer in a city, had contacts with relatives in the village, and when she saw the situation of the church, she mobilized her husband and children to come here to help. They renovated the church and added air conditioning and other facilities. Zhang then took on the role of preacher; the number of believers is now more than 20, and even believers from neighboring Puxian County come here to receive the Holy Communion.

Later, the visiting group came to a small village on the side of a road, where the gathering point of Hutaojian is. Then we came to the home of Cui Youshan, which is a host family. There used to be many people when the local coal mines were permitted to be mined, but now most of them go to town or cities for work. They say that although there are only less than ten people attending the gathering here now, they will serve and receive as long as they live here.

Elder Chen of the church in Yaodu District of Linfen asked about a lonely senior man who he had visited before. It is said that the senior man used to be a soldier. Because of the loss of files, he cannot receive the relevant preferential treatment, and he lives in the village alone. Brother Cui and the members of the church often visited him to encourage and enlighten him, and later he also believed in Jesus. Cui reported the condition of that senior man to village officials, and they later sent him to a nursing home on the outskirts of the city to live out his old age. The pastors promised to visit again when they had time.

At noon, the visiting group came to the Jiaokou Church in a small village. It borders Xiangning County and originally had many believers, but due to the loss of believers caused by population decline and its remote location, worship was suspended. Since June, I have taken on the responsibility of helping Jiaokou Church. We would visit this church every third week of every month. In July and August, the staff of Jiaokou Church raised more than 20,000 yuan by themselves to renovate the church (the construction was basically completed in October). Elder Chen handed them the fund of 6,000 yuan donated by the church he was in. Another 1,000 yuan and six attires were also collected through the Fuli Lane activity point, and a choir will also be formed with their help. If weather permits, they will host a joint Christmas worship service in mid-December in conjunction with a meeting point in the city.

After that, the visiting group also went to the Jinzhang Church, located next to Longci Spring, and checked the waterproofing treatment of the church's roof, fire safety, and emergency preparedness before Christmas.

On the way back, the group all agreed that the more remote the churches in the region, the more they should provide support and help, so that all churches can develop in a balanced way and no church should be left behind.

(The author is a staff writer for the Gospel Times.)

- Translated by Nicolas Cao

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