Interview With Director of Christian Nursing Home: Making Our Faith Visible

The elderly people are dining at the Enquan Love and Care Nursing Home in Changchun, Jilin, in January, 2024.
The elderly people are dining at the Enquan Love and Care Nursing Home in Changchun, Jilin, in January, 2024.
By Su Ran March 11th, 2024

"It is different here, although I can't pinpoint exactly what is different," Director Zhang said about the common remark from many visitors to their place.

Before the Spring Festival, I visited the Enquan Love and Care Nursing Home in Changchun, Jilin, considered "special" by many people. Zhang, a Christian woman and its director, shared the story of founding this nursing home.

The idea for establishing a nursing home came to Zhang in 2017. She observed that many believers faced obstacles in their re-marriages when their elderly parents became a hindrance. At that time, Zhang, involved in Christian matchmaking, thought that if she could open a nursing home to take in the elderly who needed care, these Christians might be able to take a step forward. However, the first application was not approved due to a lack of space and insufficient reasons.

What moved Zhang to pursue the nursing home again was the "Song of the Wilderness,"  which won "the Best Documentary Award" at the 2018 International Christian Film Festival. The documentary tells the story of a seventy-year-old man leaving his daughter to care for a bedridden elderly person in Chaishan Town, Yishui County, Shandong Province. This led to the establishment of the nursing home.

Since its founding in 2021, the nursing home has moved three times and currently houses 47 elderly residents. This non-profit institution welcomes elderly people from all walks of life, including those with paralysis, abandoned individuals, and wanderers. According to Zhang, they take in those whom society rejects but God embraces.

The nursing home accommodates several homeless individuals without social assistance, as many nursing homes refuse them. Staff members of the relief station brought the first homeless person to the neighborhood street before leaving him there. The street office staff immediately thought of the nursing home and brought him over.

Two months later, without informing the nursing home, staff from a different community on the same street brought another vagrant, Xiao Chen, who was picked up from the subway entrance. Supposedly, he had previously been placed in another nursing home but left due to dissatisfaction, and he no longer qualified for social assistance.

Having been homeless for three years, Xiao Chen expressed a desire to end his wandering life; otherwise, he would be dead. Zhang reassured him, saying, "You're at home now. Since you have nowhere else to go, we'll take you in for free." They also care for many elderly people with conditions such as cerebellar atrophy, depression, insomnia, and mobility issues. Despite their challenges, they receive excellent care at the institution, and some are reluctant to leave even when family members come to take them home.

"Thanks to the nursing home, which is great, I can live past a hundred! The director here is incomparable, and they buy plenty of fruits," an eighty-year-old grandmother exclaimed, praising the facility. She had experienced many nursing homes but only found them to be the best because they have companionship and conversations.

"If not for the sake of the Lord, no one would serve like this," Zhang said. When doing things, she often considers the words of Jesus: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” She said there was no greater thing than serving the Lord.

The director explained that they moved to their current location in July 2023. The previous standalone villa they rented lacked property rights, causing difficulties in obtaining the necessary approvals. Proactively assisting them, community workers negotiated with real estate developers to address the high rent and helped with various procedures. Within a month, this nursing home was set up.

The current nursing home covers an area of over 630 square meters (0.016 acres), with an annual rent of 270,000 yuan, higher than before. However, Zhang mentioned that the pressure is not as great as before due to the stability of membership, which allowed them to maintain a balanced budget. She recalled the most challenging period during the initial phase of the nursing home. There were only three elderly residents in the first three months, but she should cover the operating expenses. Zhang did her own work while managing the nursing home, using her salary to pay the staff. However, they struggled to make ends meet every month and considered giving up.

The COVID-19 pandemic was the toughest time for the institution, with over thirty residents facing a shortage of food. Roads were blocked, and there was no way to contact suppliers. "It was the time when we had the closest relationship with the Lord; I prayed with tears every day," Zhang added. But eventually, God answered their prayers abundantly. 

The director believed that the most important thing for Christians was to shine for the glory of God. Zhang mentioned that many advised her to expand her compassion with the service-oriented concept rather than operate just one nursing home.

"It is not enough for one person to focus on the group; more believers need to be moved to take action," she said. "Only when people everywhere join the ministry can they bless more elderly individuals."

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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