A City of Living Souls: Loving the City that Hates You, Part 1

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Editor’s note: As we pray for and learn about ministry within China’s many cities, Sister He Kewang returns to share how her church reaches out to and loves their city. From city leaders in the halls of power, to the impoverished children of powerless migrant workers, the good news of the gospel brings hope and love to souls on any rung of society’s ladder.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Part two of this interview can be found here.

China Partnership: You shared last month that, when your church really began to pray for your city, your love for your city grew stronger. How has prayer led to greater love for the city where you live?

Sister He Kewang: Someone, I don’t remember who, said, “If you have never prayed for someone, you cannot say you love that person.” Before I was converted, I looked at a city and to me, the buildings were nothing but concrete and steel. It is only since I have become a follower of Jesus Christ that I have seen this place as a city of living souls.

My city in southeastern China has convenient transportation, all kinds of business opportunities, and more. In the past, I never cared about who became the mayor. But since I have started praying for the city regularly, I began to genuinely care about the officials of the city. I started to pray that their souls would come to Christ. I also began to pray for their marriages and families and children. To me, it was a new spiritual understanding when I realized that the decisions these leaders must make will either bless or harm the city—so the pressure they face and the risks they bear are far greater than those of us who are not in their positions.


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Some years ago, a man with a PhD in economics came to our city to be the new mayor. I did not know this man, but I learned that he was the first mayor to start a blog with hundreds of thousands of followers. So, seven or eight years ago, I started to pray for his conversion. Then he went to be the mayor of another city. About three years ago he was arrested and charged with bribery. I did not stop praying for him when he was arrested. In fact, I decided that, if God would allow me, I was very willing to go to the detention center to meet him and preach the gospel to him.

Something amazing happened! I met his wife, and the day came when I was indeed able to go to the detention center to meet him. Although he eventually ended up being sentenced to thirteen years, I shared the gospel with him. I gave him the Bible, and some other books, like The Reason for God by Tim Keller, The Good Life by Charles Colson, as well as dozens of other books. Although it seems to me that he has not yet completely accepted the Lord as his Savior, I pray that God will continue to perfect and finish the good work he has begun and harvest this soul.

CP: Is prayer the primary way your church intentionally ministers to and reaches out to your city, or are there others? Tell me about those.

Sister He: It is not yet time to say that prayer is our church’s primary ministry to the city. Because the church and its polity is still in the process of being established, we are still discussing ways to bless the city by ministering to families, marriages, and parents.

CP: As you love your city more deeply, does that lead to changes in the way you interact with your neighbors, law enforcement, and regular people within the city? I would love to hear about how your love for the city in general leads to changes in your interactions with specific people or groups in the city.

Sister He: Yes. There are many stories. One of these stories is that I came to know about a special group of people. These people are the children of migrant workers. Most of these children have graduated from junior high school but failed to enter high school. They usually have little desire to study, but they are also not old enough to work in society. As a consequence, good companies will not hire them, so the only jobs these teenagers can get are in hard labor. I started to approach them, to invite them to eat dinner with me, and listened to their stories about themselves and their families. I found out that these children typically who did not get a good education and did not receive enough love, care, or attention as they grew up. I gave them Bibles and brought them to church. Usually, they would come only once and then they stopped coming.

But I did not give up. I created a group for them on social media, and often shared with them Scriptures, articles, and recommendations for movies that are suitable for them to watch. I also tried my best to help them find good job opportunities. After almost a year passed, it seemed to me that they did not change much.

About one month ago, several of them got into a group fight and were put behind bars. A few days ago, one of the children was released because he was under the age of criminal responsibility. When he came out, he called me immediately and said, “Auntie, do you know that when I was there, I was crying all the time, so much so that my eyes became all swollen? I prayed to God and said that I was wrong, and I will be a good person when I get out and never fight again. Just as I had finished praying, my father came to bail me out. I became extremely happy. Auntie, I am sorry. We did not listen to the things you told us at all.”

I told him that it is okay, and it is never too late to find out what is right. He promised to come to church later—right now no one can come, because now we are all in quarantine. I believe God will not ever forget this group of marginalized children. May God find these lost sheep! We continue to pray earnestly for this.


He Kewang is a pseudonym for a ministry leader in southeast China who has a heart for prayer. 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

-Pray for the Chinese church to bring the gospel to leaders, the marginalized, and everyone in between in the cities where they exist.

Our blog exists, not just to share information, but to resource the global church to share the joys and burdens of the Chinese church. Our hope is that everything you read here will lead you to intentional, knowledgeable prayer for the Chinese church.  

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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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Nanjing: A Relational Gospel
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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