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. 


-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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