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 third and final section of our interview with Zang Waiming (here are links to part one and two). This interview has been edited and condensed, and some identifying details have been altered.
“Jesus Loves You”
China Partnership: Do you think your acceptance [of Christianity] was true at the time when you believed?
Zang Waiming: A little bit, but not firm. When I believed, I didn’t know what to do. After that, I went to work. I did agricultural work in the villages, but lived in the city. The man who shared the gospel to me was very zealous. He looked for a brother to help me, but since he couldn’t find any, he found a sister. She said to me every week, “Let me buy you dinner. We can eat together and share together.” I thought it was strange that a woman would invite me to dinner and be so forthcoming. After each meal, she taught me. After a few months, I become more aware of how to pray, and do devotions.
I also needed to know that I had the responsibility to evangelize. I was particularly motivated to reach out and pray for my own people. It was really ironic, because my dream used to be to leave the village. I really wanted to study hard so I could leave the village. But the more I realized I had to pray and evangelize my people, the more I wanted to go back to my hometown and share with them. That was a big change. I used to say, “Don’t go back, it’s the backwater.” But now, when I thought about it, I wanted to go back.
My dream used to be to leave the village. I really wanted to study hard so I could leave the village. But the more I realized I had to pray and evangelize my people, the more I wanted to go back to my hometown and share with them. That was a big change.
So I worked and shared the gospel at the same time. I shared with my family, and my mom, dad, and younger brother all believed.
One of the biggest changes happened with my brother. At that time, he used to be a petty criminal. He did something bad in another city, and was thrown into prison. I flew to that city to visit him. He wasn’t eating well in prison, and was so thin his bones were showing. He had been working in a factory, and his lungs were bad. When I saw my brother for the first time in many years, I had tears in my eyes. I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “Jesus loves you.” I didn’t know what to say, so I told him about Jesus. He probably didn’t understand what I was talking about, but I said, “Pray and believe.” After he was released, he was converted.
Slowly, more and more people in my area came to faith. But we had some trouble, too. There are more of my people who are coming to faith now, but comparatively, it is still a minority. The government officials also gave us trouble. Unbelievers wanted to offer sacrifices to the local gods, and had some conflicts with our believers. Because government officials thought Buddhism had some historical roots in China, but Christianity came from out of the country, they gave us some trouble. But slowly, it became better.
[After living in another part of the country for several years] I prepared to come back home, because I had to share my love to my people.
He wasn’t eating well in prison, and was so thin his bones were showing. He had been working in a factory, and his lungs were bad. When I saw my brother for the first time in many years, I had tears in my eyes. I didn’t know what to say, so I said, ‘Jesus loves you.’
Coming Back to My People
CP: You have a burden for your people?
Would You Pray With Us Today?
Zang: Right. While I was living away, I had a business idea. A lot of my friends asked me to buy tea for them. So when I came back home, I bought tea. I never realized that selling tea was profitable. It costs a couple of hundred yuan for a tea cake. It is so expensive! As more and more people bought tea from me, I realized this could be a bridge, a business. I could sell tea cakes to my customers, and I could go to the village to get tea. In this way, I could have some connections with the village people.
More and more, God heard my prayers for me to come back and go to the village. The people in my village thought it was okay for me not to come back, but I felt I had to come back to my people. I think that God prepared me, step by step.
CP: One more question. You said you believed, but at first you were not clear [about what you were believing] and you wanted to give face to your friend. Do you know why there was a change in your heart?
Zang: The biggest change was my desire. After believing in God, my desire was no longer for big cities, or a good job, or this or that.
Also, during that time, once I went to the village and prayed for someone who was sick. After two weeks, he recovered, and I thought it was a huge miracle. I knew that God was not just in my imagination. He is real, and alive.
Then I returned and started my company. Though business, I get to share the gospel. We do business, and are helping the people, so they support us.
God heard my prayers for me to come back and go to the village… I felt I had to come back to my people. I think that God prepared me, step by step.
CP: If there was a boy who grew up in a small village like you did, would they now have a better chance to hear the gospel? Or would they still experience what you did? What is the situation now?
Zang: Nowadays, maybe there is a little bit more opportunity than before. But the problem now is that a lot of people don’t want to study. Unlike in our time, they feel that studying is useless and expensive, and then after graduation, they won’t be able to find a job. Now they don’t want to study so much, but instead to go out to work.
There are still opportunities to hear the gospel nowadays in the cities. Maybe it is a little bit easier to hear it, because there are now more churches in these places.
Zang Waiming is a pseudonym for a Chinese Christian from an ethnic minority group.
Pray that ethnic minorities in China will have opportunities to hear and believe the good news of God’s grace.