Editor’s note: Gu Junqing grew up in a Christian family and came to believe in the Lord at an early age. In this first part of his story, he talks about how his ancestors came to faith through the work of early missionaries, and how the tumult of the Cultural Revolution destroyed the foundations of many Chinese people. 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 interview has been both edited and condensed. It has also been slightly rearranged for additional clarity.
China Partnership: Tell me about yourself.
Gu Junqing: I am 31 years old and am from a city in the far north of China. My parents are regular office employees in a company. My dad used to be a worker, and also did some sales work. My mom works in a pharmaceutical company doing pharmaceutical testing.
All of us believe in the Lord, our whole family. On my dad’s side, my family have been believers for three generations. My grandparents were the ones who started to believe in the Lord.
CP: When did they come to faith in the Lord?
Gu: When my father’s parents were young, they believed because others preached the gospel to them.
On my mom’s side, there have been six generations of converts. Her family was originally from Shanxi, and Hudson Taylor’s organization went to Shanxi and Inner Mongolia to preach the gospel. A co-worker in his organization preached the gospel to my grandmother’s grandfather. Then, they trained him to be a pastor and plant churches in the area. My grandmother grew up in a Christian environment, and later married my grandfather. He also came from a family that have been believers in Jesus for several generations.
CP: Is it rare to have this kind of background in China?
Gu: This is a little more common in that part of China, because the missionary group did a lot of work at that time. There were a lot of families like this; entire extended families that have believed in Jesus for several generations. There were a lot of people like this around me, and I also had a lot of relatives who lived in this same environment.
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But in my generation, young people have to make a choice. I have believed since I was a child, and I have not doubted the existence of God, even though the education in China is atheistic. I was influenced by my mom; her side of the family was very godly. She did ministry in the church and led the choir. But the older cousins on both sides of my family are not believers themselves, even though their parents are believers. There are some people like that.
CP: Did you have doubts about faith while you were growing up?
Gu: Basically, I did not have any doubts. There will always be conflicts for people who grow up in a traditional Chinese education, because a Chinese education is an atheistic education. The way evolution is taught in China and many of the political, Communist teachings do not mention God.
But I never doubted the existence of God, because my mom led me to the faith at a very young age. I prayed at a very young age, and I was taught to memorize the Bible at a very young age. Before I received my public school education, I was strong in my faith and believed in the Lord. The existence of God was as natural to me as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. It was as natural to me as getting up in the morning. I had no doubts. Though I received a variety of different teachings after I went to school, I actually didn’t doubt God. I think I was mainly influenced by my family, which is very important.
CP: Was it seeing the lives of your parents and their relationships with God that influenced you so much?
Gu: Yes – mainly my mom. When I was little, my dad was a nominal Christian who didn’t truly believe. He only started to take his faith seriously later on, when I was a little older.
CP: Why was there a change for him?
Gu: Probably because there was a conflict. Although my grandparents were believers, my dad went through the Cultural Revolution when he was a child. At the time of the Cultural Revolution, my parents were both in elementary school. It was a very painful experience for them, because they saw their own parents being criticized by our church. This wasn’t necessarily because of faith. At the time, almost everyone was being criticized and denounced for a variety of reasons. For instance, my grandfather on my father’s side was criticized and denounced because they used to be rich people. My grandfather on my father’s side was criticized and denounced because he used to be in business. You could be criticized for any reason.
It was a crazy time then, just a crazy time. It’s very hard for my generation to understand now. My parents’ generation remembers it very well, but their fathers’ generation is reluctant to talk about that experience today because it is too painful for them. My mom and dad told me about some things they saw at that time, but my grandparents do not want to talk about it.
A lot of people around us, like those who used to be pastors and leaders in churches, were criticized for their faith. They were also beaten very badly, to the point that they were almost dead. That is what I was told. But my own family were not persecuted primarily for reasons of faith.
We think the Cultural Revolution destroyed the faith a lot of Chinese people had in their own country. Before that time, there was Confucius, and there was tradition – but those things were no longer believed in. There had been a faith in Chairman Mao, but that was destroyed, too. So, since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, the only faith Chinese people have had is money. After the end of that time, people pursued wealth and economic development. Money has probably become the primary faith of Chinese people.
CP: Was your dad like this?
Gu: When he was young, my dad was under the influence of his work environment and sought success in the world. But later on, he changed. In the 1990s, there was a wave of unemployment in China. At that time, his company was closed down, and he lost his job. For several years he stayed home without a job. I think he changed in that time and was humbled. Later on, this allowed him to really seek the faith.
Gu Junqing is a pseudonym for a Chinese believer. Gu grew up in a Christian family and has believed in Christ from an early age. He and his wife have two children.
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Pray for Chinese people to see that money and economic success cannot truly satisfy them.