Editor’s note: Grace transforms. In recent decades, millions of Chinese people have met Jesus and had their lives turned inside out. Their hopes, dreams, families, leisure, and (in some cases) occupations have changed because of Christ. This is the second part of a five-part series with a house church pastor. In it he shares about his life before becoming a Christian how his family first heard the gospel. Some identifying features have been altered to protect his identity. Our hope is that these interviews challenge and encourage Western believers to examine their own faith and remind them to pray for their brothers and sisters in China.
How did you become a Christian?
I trusted in the Lord because my daughter brought me to faith.
When was that?
I was in my late thirties. I married my wife, we had our child, and my work was not near my house. I would go to work on Mondays at the factory, and only on Fridays could I return home.
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My home and my work were more than twenty miles apart, and the roads weren’t like they are now. It wasn’t like now where people have cars; no one had a car. I could only go back home once a week for two days, then I would go back to work. But at that time my home life was pretty good!
Afterward, though, in 1996 China had a reform and became more open. Factories began to let people leave and go out on their own. We started to do business on our own — to go do manual labor, to start our own things.
I earned a lot of money! People are like this: once they get some money, they start to think of what they can do for their own pleasure. So, I started gambling. I would go play mahjong.
Were you still working at the factory?
Yes, I was still there. Because the place where we worked was really pretty tough and there wasn’t much there, my friends and I would drink. We drank, played mahjong, smoked, and so on, lots of bad stuff.
After that, the factory and our work unit went bankrupt, so I went out and started doing business and earning money on my own. I was pretty successful at earning money! Once I started getting money, things got even worse.
Before, I might gamble a little, but not much. Once I got money, I started gambling a lot. And I would go to some really unhealthy places like bars, KTV parlors, places that had “little misses” [a euphemism for prostitutes], and there were lots of things like this. Slowly, I started living a pretty bad life.
Your family, your wife and daughter, did they know what kind of life you were living?
Yes, yes! They knew. And once they knew, we started fighting,
I would fight with my wife a lot. Whenever I went back home, it was not peaceful. Before, our home life was good — but because of me, when I went home there would always be lots of fighting. I would hit my wife, she would be grabbing and scratching me, and my daughter was hurt a lot by all this. At that time my daughter was really young. When she was about eight, that was the time things really started to get bad. She had just started elementary school grade one or two.
She could understand what was going on?
She understood. She would see us fighting and she was really worried. She didn’t even want to come back home because her parents were always quarreling. We would fight, and then after we fought, I would find my friends and go out again. Our life was really very bad.
This is amazing, though: we moved. We moved to a new place, we left the old place where I was working and moved into the city. We were actually still moving our stuff, and our neighbor next door came and really kindly and warmly helped us move our things. Our home was still a mess. It turns out the neighbor who was helping us move was a Christian. We had just finished moving our stuff and she immediately shared the gospel with us.
What kind of impression did you have of her?
I was really polite to her. I told her ‘thank you’ for her help, because she had been so warm and helped us. But once she started talking about faith, I didn’t want anything to do with that.
My wife and I were on our guard against anything to do with faith. We didn’t want to accept anything like that. My dad was a soldier, her dad was a soldier, they had both fought in the Communist Revolution. All the education we had received previously was that there was no god, no higher power, and we must depend on ourselves.
But this neighbor, this sister, she was really wise. She loved our daughter. My wife and I would fight and quarrel, and my daughter was hurt by it all. This neighbor was really great to my daughter. She would buy her small gifts, snacks and things to eat, toys. This sister would also take our daughter to church. My daughter was about nine at this time.
What reaction did you have to your neighbor taking your daughter to church?
This neighbor was honestly just a really great person. And she was so, so good to my daughter. After she took her to say prayers and worship with her, my daughter would sing praise songs every day. This neighbor led my daughter to believe in the Lord. And she really changed and was happy. I felt it was as if she had grown up.
That neighbor would often come to our home. Because she was so good to our daughter, we were very polite and welcoming to her. And while she was with us, she would often bring up the gospel. But we didn’t want anything to do with it.
But my daughter started to change. I was still quarreling a lot with her mom, and she would be in between us and help. Before, whenever she knew we were fighting, she would leave. But after this, when she heard us fighting, she would come and help us reconcile with one another. She would say, “Daddy, you know my mom is doing so much hard work for our family. She does housework, makes food, she keeps our house so clean.”
To her mom she would say, “Daddy is also working really hard. He goes out and works, he earns money. It’s all for our family.” And she would say, “You should love one another.” We felt as though our child had grown up. She would come and be the reconciler, the peacemaker, in between the two of us.
My daughter said, “Mom, you should come to church with me.” Luckily, the church people were really nice and happy. Whenever we would say anything, the church people would pray for us. So, my wife was brought to church by my daughter.
Every week, our neighbors had a house church meeting at their home. Before, whenever we heard them meeting, we would slam our door shut: “I don’t want to hear it.” But after my daughter took my wife to church, whenever my wife would hear them, she would open the door and say, “These praise songs are really so beautiful!” Or, “How good is this song!”
So, my daughter believed in the Lord, and then her mom believed in the Lord, too! After the two of them trusted God, things changed.
Before, my wife and I would often come to blows. But after they became Christians, especially after my wife did, our fights became less and less frequent. Before, when we would fight, my wife and I would say, “We don’t want this family.”
My brothers and her older sister would come and help us reconcile. They would remind us to reconcile for the child or for the family. But it was no good. After she trusted God, it was crazy, but my wife became a gentle person. I was just watching, observing. A lot of her friends started coming to our house. They were all believers. After they came, they would pray for us, they might sing songs. I was always polite, I would fix water for them, and then I would leave. But I heard what they were talking about. I had a lot of questions and problems.
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