Who Is the True God?: A Tea Merchant’s Story

Editor’s note: Zang Waiming is a middle-aged tea merchant. He is a member of a small minority people group, but now lives in a large urban area. He grew up in a rural, autonomous area, populated mainly by other minority peoples. 

This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with Chinese Christians about their personal stories of faith, and how they came to know and follow God. This is the second section of our interview with Zang Waiming (here is a link to part one; the final section will post next week). This interview has been edited and condensed, and some identifying details have been altered.

 


A High-Level God

Zang Waiming: When I was in college, the professor of our major said there were some people from outside of our province, sometimes even people from out of the country. The professor, a few other students, and I led groups that took these people to visit various places. Once we visited a temple. When we went to the temple, we had to introduce the temple and the Buddha.

We took them to visit, and we even prepared an introduction: the history of the temple, and some information about the Buddha. When we were there, all of us had to give some money to Buddha as an offering. I started to present the introduction, then I said, “Now we are going to offer money to the Buddha.” But those people said they didn’t want to offer him money, and that they would not give.

My people often offered buffalo and sticky rice to the gods, but we didn’t feel that our local god gave us anything in return. I felt very conflicted.

I said, “If you don’t want to give money, then why did you come? Why don’t you kneel down and worship?” They said they did not believe the Buddha was God. They said it was an idol, made by humans, so there was no reason to give him money. God is highly exalted, and he is the Creator. God wants your heart, not your money; he wants your heart to believe in him.

At the time, I thought this was a unique concept. I didn’t know who was really the true god. My people often offered buffalo and sticky rice to the gods, but we didn’t feel that our local god gave us anything in return. I felt very conflicted. These people said you cannot see God, but you can feel him. Why should I worship a man-made God? God is the Creator; he created trees, he is not some being who exists in our imagination.

This was the first time I heard of such a high-level God. I thought that this God was beyond me, and that these people believed in a better God than we did.

A People Who Understand Sin


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China Partnership: Did you feel a little attracted to this God?

Zang: Yes, a little bit attracted, and like he was a little different. I also thought they were good people; they were very nice. I mentioned giving money to Buddha a couple of times. Although they wouldn’t give, I thought their reasoning was pretty good.

This was the first time I heard of such a high-level God. I thought that this God was beyond me, and that these people believed in a better God than we did.

After that, we took them to another place, an ethnic village in a large city. I rarely went to places as far away as that city, so when we brought those people there, we couldn’t find the way out. They said, “It’s okay, take your time.” They were mild-tempered, and did not flare up, or threaten to complain to our boss about our losing the way. I thought they were nice. After we finished, they left and went on their way.

We went back to school. A few months later, a person from that group came to our school. I became good friends with him. He was a Christian, and he told me, “There is only one God, the highest God.” This was very important, because my people have many gods. There are so many gods I didn’t even know some of them. What if I made a mistake and offended one? When I was young, although I didn’t believe in these gods, I still had some fear in my heart. Sometimes, when I went to pick tea leaves, my mother said, “You have to be careful when you pick the tea leaves, and you can’t mess with the leaves, because the leaves have a spirit. If you don’t do it the right way, the spirit might make you sick.”

CP: So you were afraid in everything you did.

Zang: My friend said that his God is the highest God, the God of creation. He said we cannot see God, because we have sinned. Sin is not murder or arson, it is something that exists in our hearts. If we offend, lie, and slander, all those things are sin. But God sent Jesus into the world to die on the cross for me and to forgive my sins. This sounded peaceful to me. I thought it was good.

CP: You accepted that there is a God. Would you also say you accepted the concept of sin?

Zang: My people do get that, about sin. We are always very fearful.

My people do get that, about sin. We are always very fearful…When we sinned, we would kill and sacrifice chickens. We would let the blood spill on the door, and put it there, like the Jews, because we felt the blood cleanses us from our sins.

For example, if we break something by accident, or if the cows we herd go into someone else’s fields and trampled their things, we were always fearful. When we sinned, we would kill and sacrifice chickens. We would let the blood spill on the door, and put it there, like the Jews, because we felt the blood cleanses us from our sins. So, it made sense to me.

My friend shared with me multiple times. When I was about to graduate, my friend asked me if I wanted to believe. I said yes. I thought his belief was good. I also said yes because I wanted to give him some face, too.


Zang Waiming is a pseudonym for a Chinese Christian from an ethnic minority group.

Pray for those in China who live in fear of unpredictable gods who cannot be satisfied.

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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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