Shanghai: Gospel Power


Editor’s note: In May, China Partnership is praying for the city of Shanghai. As we focus on the particular issues Shanghai people face, we wanted to re-run the first part of an older interview we previously published with a Shanghai pastor’s wife. In this interview, she discusses how the gospel changed her relationship with her mother, how relationships with others have encouraged her, and cultural idols she sees in Shanghai. This version has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.


Changed Relationships

China Partnership: Can you share your story of the gospel’s impact on your relationship with your mom? 

Wu Meijing: I grew up in a family environment full of conflict; my parents fought constantly. My father’s fault-finding and dismissive attitude toward my mother, his criticizing her, and his manner of speaking to her – these left an indelible mark, and affected my attitude toward her. This became a long-term, habitual sin, one I could not overcome. In the beginning I thought this was the impact of my family of origin. Later, I realized it was my own sinfulness.

I went through a long period of prayer and many painful tears. I wanted to honor my parents, to be a person of gentle speech, and a filial daughter to mom. But I could not. I started condemning myself, asking why I could not live these things out. I was treating myself in a way that tended toward legalism. I would frustratingly ask, “Why can’t I live this way?”

But God was slowly changing me. I also went through some training. When I recognized my identity in Christ and learned how to repent of my sins and the joy it brings, I knew my sins had been nailed to the cross. I cannot overcome my sin by relying on myself. Every time I sin, it is a moment of grace in which I can return to my place in Christ, sob to him, and tell him I have sinned yet again.

I wanted to honor my parents, to be a person of gentle speech, and a filial daughter to mom. But I could not.

I rest on the righteousness Jesus has already accomplished. No longer am I gaining credit through my own righteous behavior. When I meditated continually on the righteousness already attained by Jesus, I was more able to rest. I do not make myself a filial daughter through my own effort. This has given me tremendous liberation and enabled me to relate to my mother with greater freedom. Even so, there is inevitably residual sin.

Once, after finishing a training, I went home and gave my mom a hug. I said “sorry” to her. I told her that all these years I have been defiant and rude when I talk to her. My mother also cried. She is a believer, so she thinks the Lord is a true and living God. God is molding me little by little. He has not turned me instantly into someone who pleases him perfectly, but he is steadily helping me know and experience him, and slowly but surely become who he wants me to be.

In recent months, I experienced a physical ailment and was exceedingly weak. In my weakness, I suddenly recognized my critical attitude toward my mother came from pride and self-righteousness. I began to think this physical illness could help me learn humility, thus I could become more able to empathize with my mother’s difficulties.

When I was talking with my husband one night and asking how I had been different lately, my mother responded that she thought I had changed a lot. I thought: “Wow, this is another moment of grace.”

I might not have noticed, but my mother did. When I trust God, I can overcome many of my deepest sins that control me. Perhaps my family of origin left an indelible imprint. But the power of Christ, the power of the gospel, can deliver me from darkness so I can have greater joy. Then, more of Christ’s character flows out of my life.


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Friendship and Discipleship

CP: Do you have a female friend, Christian or non-Christian, with whom you have a close relationship?  

Wu: I think so. She is a sister. She has influenced me a lot. We met before our church started. But after a while she got busy at work and gave birth, so she left. I kept praying, hoping she would come back. A year after our church was established, she returned. She had not wandered away from God during her absence, and had been teaching the Bible to her child and praying.

I might not have noticed, but my mother did. When I trust God, I can overcome many of my deepest sins that control me. Perhaps my family of origin left an indelible imprint. But the power of Christ, the power of the gospel, can deliver me from darkness.

When she was among us again, God gave me a lot of encouragement and comfort through her. She takes initiative and is very capable. She has impacted me a lot. I am passive, so when I am with her, her enthusiasm and drive galvanize me so I feel more motivated to do things.

CP: Is there an older woman in your life whom you would consider your role model? 

Wu: I have been a believer for more than a decade, but it seems like I have never received discipleship training. I have always been part of a small group or was just nurtured in the church. There was never an elder Christian sister who did one-on-one discipleship. God has his own plan and good will for me in my leading a discipleship small group right now.   God has not given me such a sister to walk with me or pastor me. But he has nurtured me many other ways.

Recently, I got to know a pastor’s wife and had the chance to spend time with her. She touches my heart because of how she serves the Lord, even at her age and with her health condition. My heart aches for her. She has set a great example. She is hardworking and faithful to the Lord. At the same time, she is kind and humble. She is patient toward us young pastors’ wives, taking time to ask about our spiritual lives, and she encourages us and prays for us. I hope I can become that kind of pastor’s wife in the future. Her relationship with Christ is such that she is overflowing with love. She is humble and faithful.

Cultural Idols

CP: What are cultural idols of Chinese women?

Wu: Appearance. [Chinese women] spend lots of money on plastic surgery and lots of time on cosmetics. Consumerism, including all kinds of shopping, is also a big idol. Rich people buy name brands and luxury products. If they do not have much money, they search for deals.

In my work environment and daily life, I’ve discovered many women who use all their income each month buying things. This puts great pressure on their boyfriends and husbands. After they get married, young women realize they have serious financial issues. Their husbands have to earn more money, which makes them busier. Meanwhile, they borrow money, which leads to bankruptcy and broken marriages. This is a huge idol.

The values of the world are opposite from gospel values. Within this completely different value system, as Christian women are more deeply shaped by the gospel, they bring gentleness and humility into their lives.

Another idol for women in families with children is their children and their education. Nowadays, kids start early, at 2 or 3. They learn English and the arts so they can get a head start and hopefully get into a good school. In the past, their only pressure was the college entrance examination. But now this pressure begins with kindergarten interviews. After this, they face the pressure of entering elementary school, where there is intense competition. Then there is great pressure as they enter middle school.

Kids nowadays spend most of their time in after-school programs and extra-curricular classes. This leads to sisters not attending Sunday worship if their children have piano exams that day. All their thoughts are consumed by their children’s education, so they don’t have interest in serving at church. These idols not only influence secular culture, but also the internal structure of healthy churches.

CP: What overall impact does the gospel have on women, and what impact has it had on you? How have sisters at your church been changed by the gospel? 

Wu: There is a sister at church who used to care a lot about her appearance. Later, because of the gospel, she did not care as much. She was slowly set free.

The gospel also affects how sisters interact with colleagues in their workplaces. In the workplace, aggressive people are appreciated. If you are weak or gentle, others think you are incapable. The gospel makes you treat colleagues with humility and speak to them with gentleness. This can lead to spiritual warfare.

Of course, spiritual warfare allows sisters to experience the gospel more deeply. It makes you consider your role and identity in Christ. Do you want recognition from others, or to please God? We see sisters bringing gospel change into their relationships with their colleagues and husbands and their children’s education. All these areas are transformed.

The values of the world are opposite from gospel values. Within this completely different value system, as Christian women are more deeply shaped by the gospel, they bring gentleness and humility into their lives. This surprises others and gives them something to think about.


Wu Meijing is a pseudonym for a Shanghai pastor’s wife.

Pray for Shanghai women to pursue gospel values, not the worldly values they are pressured to adapt.

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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

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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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