Editor’s note: This is the transcript and video of a recent interview with a house church pastor who was raised an atheist in a predominantly Muslim area of China, but came to faith in college. He has served as a pastor for about a decade, and hopes to be sent out as a missionary in the near future. We hope his story will give you a personal look at how God is moving in the real lives of Chinese, and how their stories bring him glory.
“I Detested Religion”
I think my journey from conversion to serving the Lord has been a process of God continuously helping me understand what the kingdom of God is.
I was born in Xinjiang. I was surrounded by many Muslims, but had never seen a Christian before. Muslims did not have good behaviors, so I detested religion and gradually grew to be a strong atheist.
I went to college inland. In my third year of college, I heard the gospel, started to read the Bible, and joined a Bible study group on campus. I began to seriously and earnestly think about whether there is a God in this world, whether men are sinners, whether Jesus really is the Son of God, whether he really died on the cross for the sins of men and rose from the dead again. After almost a year of reading and thinking, I decided to accept Jesus as my personal Savior. Then I was baptized and became a Christian.
“Healthy Mission Requires a Healthy Church”
After I came to faith, God gave me much joy and grace. It was also in here that God led me to understand what the Church is. The Church is the body of Christ, the visible manifestation of the kingdom of God on this earth, the people of God. Going to church is not about what I can get, but about worshipping God.
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God also built up my life through the church by involving me in ministry. I was leading small groups, and doing the ministry of the Word. Later on, I slowly became the leader of this young gathering place.
As we prayed together to seek God’s plan for us, God gave us a word from Psalm 8:2. It says, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” By this, we knew that though we were all young and few in number, just like babies and infants, God would use us to testify to his own glory.
Later, through God’s leading, I left my job in 2010. I wanted to become a missionary at that time. As I read and studied the Bible more, I saw that God’s heart was for the nations. When I realized that there were so many nations and people in this world who had never heard the gospel or seen a Christian in their lives, I was fervent in spirit.
I hoped that the name of God would be exalted in those places. I also deeply sensed that the Chinese church had received much grace and countless blessings. Many missionaries came to China in the past one or two hundred years to preach the gospel and planted churches in China. We should share the grace of God. That’s why I went to Korea to attend seminary to equip myself.
However, when I graduated at the beginning of 2014 and was ready to go to the mission field, God gave me a word: “Healthy mission requires a healthy church.” I realized that our church was not healthy and I needed to go back to serve the church and build it into a healthy church.
Then I obeyed God’s leading and returned to serve the student gathering place where I used to serve. In fact, at that time, I didn’t even know what a healthy church looked like.
After ten years of ministry, by God’s grace, this student gathering place has gradually grew into an independent, institutionalized, healthy church. We have also planted two other churches in and around Beijing. We have planted two churches, and out of our church have come more than twenty brothers and sisters who are now serving God full time in other churches, church organizations and mission fields. During these ten years of ministry, God has also led me to know his heavenly kingdom and this earthly kingdom in a very practical way.
“The Kingdom of God Will Prevail”
I remember in 2014, we rented a place. We finally had a regular place to meet. We held two evangelistic meetings during Christmas time. A lot of students and young adults joined us. Probably over 400 people attended the two meetings. On the night of Christmas Eve, the local police chief arrived with many police officers to threaten us. They wanted to shut down the venue and prevent us from having a meeting the next day.
That was the first time I was officially confronted with the government’s persecution. At first I was so scared that I was too afraid to even enter the church building, so I kept praying around the church. Thank the Lord, in prayer I seemed to see Jesus Christ crucified for me. The Lord helped me make a decision: since the Lord had died for me, I would go and worship him, and I would worship him until death.
I began not to feel too afraid any more. I said to my wife, “I may not be able to come home tomorrow. Don’t be afraid, but rely on the Lord!”
The next day, on Christmas evening, we continued the meeting as planned. As our co-workers served in the front, I was praying with some other co-workers earnestly in the back. Thank the Lord that the police did not show up that night. However, one of the pastors whom I was praying with had an accident on his way home and his car was totally wrecked, but he was not hurt. This showed me how real spiritual warfare is. Satan is persecuting the kingdom of God in all kinds of ways with this earthly regime, culture, economy, etc. Yet the kingdom of God will prevail, because Christ has won the victory.
The experience of the past has confirmed the vision that God has given us, which is declared in Psalm 8:1-2, “You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.”
This is my tenth year of doing ministry, and my church is praying to send me to the mission field at the end of the year, because we know that the kingdom of God is not only in China, but also in all the world. He will call his people to worship him, and his glorious name will be heard in all the earth.
Thank you, God! I am grateful for the opportunity to share our testimonies with you. God bless you!
Huang Shengli is a pseudonym for a house church pastor in Beijing. He was raised in Xinjiang as a staunch atheist, and came to know Christ in college.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for healthy churches in China that are able to send out missionaries to the far corners of the world.