Assistant of Wang Mingdao, Zhang Guiyan, Dies at 79

The young Zhang Guiyan took a photo with Wang Mingdao in his later years.
1/2The young Zhang Guiyan took a photo with Wang Mingdao in his later years.
A self-poitrait of Zhang Guiyan taken on October 4, 2023
2/2A self-poitrait of Zhang Guiyan taken on October 4, 2023
By Xinyi WangJanuary 5th, 2024

Zhang Guiyan, Wang Mingdao's chief assistant for ministry and daily life in his last ten years in Shanghai, passed away at the age of 79.

Before his death at his Shanghai residence on Wednesday, Zhang Guiyan not only assisted in the collection of many of Wang's papers, diaries, and sermons but also in the organization and publication of many books and biographies of Wang after his death.

Brother Zhang was also an active participant in various ministries. He had spent over 30 years obtaining authorization to promote the distribution of Bibles to remote churches, arranging books to develop church libraries, and assisting in the construction of buildings for needy churches in Yunnan Province.

As an out-going Christian, he always shared stories about himself and the pastoral staff he knew. When it came to himself, he kept a low profile and was humble, claiming that he had never earned a high-level education or acquired particular abilities. Zhang, originally from Ningbo, Zhejiang, was born in 1945 on Fumin Road in Shanghai, where he remembered numerous intellectuals and missionaries congregating, with church piano sounds filling the air. He began his Christian faith at a Shanghai church founded by John Sung (Song Shangjie) in his youth. From 17 to 35, despite the suffering at the labor camp as a result of his beliefs, he remained serene because of the faith within.

Brother Zhang was a great help to many churches in China since he was authorized to help distribute Bibles. He mentioned that, in the process, some told him that there were various errors in the Chinese Union Version Bible, possibly as many as 60%, which he strongly disagreed with and believed that "the Chinese Union Version is very beautiful."

During the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan, he headed to Chengdu with some church staff for distribution to meet the growing need for Bibles among the victims.

Billy Graham and Ruth Graham also appreciated Zhang's ministry. In 2022, he received an email from Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham, wishing him a happy new year.

Out of his love for life and travel, Zhang enjoyed visiting churches in various places with a desire to share. His WeChat Moments contained the beautiful scenery of different churches taken during his journeys and the historical images of many religious seniors and believers he knew.

He spent his later years primarily in Shanghai, where he was active in church life, receiving Christian groups from different places and exchanging with church workers from various Christian denominations. At the same time, he was interested in supporting emerging Christian cultural ministries and promoting charity ministries while still enjoying riding his bicycle around the suburbs of Shanghai for the sunset.

- Translated by Poppy Chan

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