Recently we were honored with time with a 70-year-old elder from a large Chinese church network. CP staff sat down to hear his stories and heart for China. It was a memorable conversation and we hope you are encouraged and blessed to read his words. God has done amazing things in China and CP stands on the shoulders of great men and women of God. Make sure to check out the rest of the series – Time With a Living Legacy of the Chinese Church – The Personal Story and Time With a Living Legacy of the Chinese Church – Prayers for China Today.
The Cultural Revolution began in 1967 and ended in 1976, and during the early part all of the Bibles were confiscated and taken away. Because of my family, the officials knew that our house was a meeting place. So the government officials came and took away everything connected to Christianity.
There was no warning, they just came. We were not scared.
If they found out that the Christians were gathering, whether you were a preacher or not, everybody was taken away. So we had a special person who was a watchman. When we were gathering he would stay outside and see who was coming. He was just a gatekeeper. He would stand at the gate and see if somebody was coming, then he would rush back to the room to tell everyone to be prepared and take the preacher to another family for safety. The government official knew that every Christmas the Christians were going to gather together and be in a certain location. [The Christians] would bring their own flowers and chickens, and the government would come and take away all of the things offered to the church. They even took away their bowls and utensils.
Once there was a miracle that happened. There was a man [in the church] who was mentally handicapped. He was taken away by the government officials. They bound him and treated him harshly. But he came back several days later completely healed.
One time there was a Christmas gathering and when the communist officials came to take our Bibles away, I said, “Ok, what’s wrong with us believing in Christ? Why would you take away our Bibles?” Because I stood up the officials took me away and I was thrown into a small place. It was several days before I was released back.
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Because the government confiscated all of the Bibles, there was only a single copy remaining. But later on we got a complete printed Bible because we had some connections with some overseas preachers. There was an incident that happened in China because some foreigners donated a lot of Bibles to try to ship into China; but, it was impossible, so those [Bibles] went into the ocean. But a fisherman found those Bibles and took them out. So even though the government customs blocked them, those Bibles got into China.
In the Cultural Revolution my mother was criticized and publicly humiliated – she was hit on her neck and on her chest. Because of my faith, I was also humiliated and I felt very pessimistic. During that time I didn’t dream I would become a pastor. My family was searched and strictly scrutinized by the government. I very much lacked in self-confidence and hurt a lot. That was the environment I grew up in – I was still in my teenage years. I was not a preacher yet.
Probably the two things that have most influenced me in my life where the Cultural Revolution, because of the political persecutions, and the governor who opened the gospel doors to China. These two things have been the biggest influence in my life.
When we were allowed the freedom of preaching the gospel, we were very satisfied. In the late 70s and 80s a lot of Christian ministries and churches were established and began to develop. It was unbelievable. At that time church buildings began to appear, and so did preaching and prayer – all of those things began to appear. We had trainings, and even eventually theological training. At the beginning when we were preachers, we didn’t even have a Bible. We had hand-copied verses, written out by hand rather than a printer. So all of these were big shifts.
The church is so big now; it’s incredible. Once I was asked the question, “You have been preaching the gospel for over forty years, what is the happiest thing in your heart?” I feel like the happiest thing was after the Cultural Revolution when I preached and so many people converted. I could pray for them, and that is the happiest thing for me – when we had a preacher preaching in the meetings, and we had so many people kneeling and repenting of their sins and praying.