AN INCAPABLE COLT
In 1944 after Brother Dickson Sun was released from prison, I was directed by the Lord＊s words: ※Get out of your country, from your family and from your father＊s house, to a land that I will show you§ (Genesis 12:1) and ※Listen O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father＊s house; so the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him§ (Psalm 45: 10-11). Gutian County was my birthplace. The Methodist Church had been the church of my ancestry for 3 generations, where I had also served for many years. I desired to return to my hometown to repay my debt, and I was therefore most unwilling to leave, yet the Holy Spirit kept pushing me, ※To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of ram.§ (I Samuel 15:22). Finally I yielded and wrote a letter of resignation to the Director, Xuande Li, which was quickly accepted.
Having left the Methodist Church and not yet sure which way God was going to lead, I dared not go ahead of the Lord and ended up living at the Yuqing Elementary School in Gutian County for half a year. There, I watched daily at His gates, waiting at the posts of His doors (Proverbs 8:34). I also entered His secret chamber and had close fellowship with Him. I was abundantly blessed during this period and my strength was renewed (Isaiah 40:31).
One day as I was praying, I was filled with the Spirit of joy and I felt as if I were totally immersed in the ocean of love and that there was nothing that could separate my Lord and me. Lord, ※Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides you§ (Psalm 73:25). These were the sweetest and happiest days, and I had no desire to descend from the mountain (Matthew 17:9). However, the Lord had opened a huge gospel door for me, and I had to obey and move on.
As a start, I was invited by the Methodist Church in Longxi County to lead a revival meeting for 7 days. I saw the pillar of cloud arising and knew that it was time to re-pitch the tent (Exodus 21:22). I went from Gutian to the town of Gukao by sedan- chair, stayed overnight and then took a ferry instead to Longxikao. That place was where Longxi (brook) and Minjiang (river) converged, about 19 miles from the city of Longxi. That night I stayed in a small inn. It was the first time in my life that I had found myself in such an exceptionally filthy lodging. The fleas were rampant and irritating, attacking me all night. Being obsessed with hygiene, I could not stand such discomfort and could not sleep all night. I thought, ※This is only the first stop of my itinerary; there＊ll be many more hurdles ahead!§ What could I do? The Lord＊s Spirit touched me and reminded me of God＊s beloved Son who had become man and had suffered many tribulations on earth for my sake. What I had to put up with was nothing in comparison. As I pondered thus, the Lord＊s love once again dissolved me. Submissively, I let the Lord nail my ※hygiene-mania§ on the Cross. I was then no longer bothered by the flea itches, the stale air of the room, or the stink of dirty and moldy blankets. My heart was filled with joy. Thank God for allowing me to experience with Him a tiny taste of bitterness.
In the morning I felt like a new person. ※It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me§ (Galatians 2:20). I took a small wooden boat, and after more than 10 hours of sailing against the current arrived in the city of Longxi. My cousin, Dr. Dekuang Zheng, came to meet me. He was the Director of the Methodist Church Hospital in the county. He truly loved the Lord and hosted many male and female preachers who came to lead revival meetings. For a number of years, however, he was not on friendly terms with another doctor, a sister in the Lord. They had ceased contact with each other. Thanks be to the Lord! By the work of the Holy Spirit before the meeting, my cousin humbly visited this female doctor to invite her to the meeting. She joyfully came. Enlightened by the Lord, they realized their own faults, asked for each other＊s forgiveness and were reconciled. After the meeting they invited each other to dinner. Those were no ordinary invitations, but rather feasts of love, like ※fellowship in the light§ (I John 1:7). The blood of Jesus had washed away all their sins to enable them to be united and to enjoy the love of Christ!
After the revival meeting in Longxi, I returned to Fuzhou. From the human point of view, a person who had left the denomination would no longer be welcomed. Yet praise the Lord whose promises never failed; for no one could close down the doors that He had opened. Tens of churches affiliated with the Methodist, Episcopal and other Chinese Christian denominations had eagerly invited me to lead meetings. Among them, the (Chinese Christian) Jianai Church in Kaiyuanlo had not held any revival meeting in 30 years, and the condition was very desolate. This time, their old pastor (over 70) invited me to lead a 7-day revival meeting. Before the meeting, the Church was totally renovated and well set up. The Lord who searched men＊s hearts had seen the people＊s need and did great works in reviving many believers. I was especially impressed with the testimony of an officer of the Procuratorial Bureau of the Fujian-Zhejiang Provinces regarding his salvation. There was also an old lawyer saved by the grace of the Lord. Truly, the Lord was impartial, and everyone was equal in respect of His salvation. Under His personal care, this church was revived.
In addition, I led a weeklong revival meeting in an Episcopal church in the Fuzhou urban district. The Director of the church-affiliated Chaijing Hospital was a nominal Christian unfaithful to his wife. The Lord showed mercy on him at this meeting, and he totally repented and turned to the Lord. After he was saved, he invited the church celebrities to a banquet in his home. As he gave his testimony he also stated, ※I＊ve now revived the love that I had for my wife at the time of our wedding.§ His words touched many guests present. They gave glory to the Lord, and Satan was shamed.
The Yuanli Methodist Church in the Fuzhou suburban area was a huge Gothic-styled building. It was very splendid-looking externally but lifeless internally. It had been closed for three years. Later, a lady-minister came and re-opened it. The Lord sent me there for a week. For the first 3 days, my sermons were uninspiring, the audience dozed off one by one, and the mood was down and depressed. I realized that this was due to the power of darkness at work and that it called for fasting and praying. On the third night I told the audience, ※Fast tomorrow morning and come here to pray - to destroy the fortress of Satan. Otherwise, this meeting can＊t go on.§
Next morning, everyone showed up. I led the following song:
Empty my vessel, empty all
Empty my vessel, empty all
Empty my vessel, empty all
Sin＊s debt all paid, vessel emptied all
Sin＊s debt all paid, Holy Spirit filled my all
We sang this over and over again. The Holy Spirit began to work and some people were weeping as they sang. That day I did not give a sermon but asked everyone to kneel down and pray, allowing the Holy Spirit to do His own work. In less than an hour the weeping of repentance could be heard half-a-mile away. Hearing this, people around came and found the spiritual wind blowing and the Holy Spirit freely moving. One child stood up and said, ※I＊ve stolen someone＊s ball but will return it.§ Another person said, ※I＊ve stolen vegetables from someone＊s garden but will return them.§ One woman knelt before her mother-in-law and said, ※Mom, please forgive me for not fulfilling my filial duty!§ The mother-in-law replied, ※It＊s not your fault; I did not love you as though you were my own daughter.§ A young couple knelt before an elderly lady and said, ※Grandma, we＊ll go to the court to withdraw the accusation and return the 60 acres of land to you.§ After the meeting this couple invited the grandmother and the church leaders to dine. During the dinner, they returned the deed for the 60 acres of land to the elderly lady. We praised the Lord together, singing ※Glory To His Name!§ The Holy Spirit had cleansed this church with God＊s words and revived it greatly.
The Lord had also led me to conduct a weeklong meeting in a Chinese Christian Evangelical Church in Changle County. Thank the Lord for His grace! One night, by the work of the Holy Spirit, the pastor of the church repented and was saved. Thus, the stumbling block of evangelism was removed. Since then the pastor and the believers were truly united, together advancing the gospel in one accord.
From 1943 to the end of 1944 the gospel flame had swept all the urban and suburban areas of Fuzhou. Meantime the war-zone had expanded to the coastal areas of Fuzhou, and Japanese invasion was becoming more imminent day by day. My cousin, the Director of Fuzhou Salt Management Supervisory Office, was a Christian. Not taking advantage of his official position, he hired a small boat to leave Fuzhou for the mountain area by Minjiang＊s upstream. He also brought me along, together with sister Xiuzhen Yang (missionary of the Tianan Church) and brother Zhongkuang Xu and his family. On the way we encountered the soldiers of the Kuomin Party who were on their way to the battlefront. They were calling all civil boats into requisition, and we were ordered to leave our boat. When Brother Xu went ashore to negotiate, we prayed earnestly in the boat. ※Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me§ (Psalm 50:155. Eventually we were allowed to continue with our journey and later arrived safely in the town of Liudu in Minqing County. We were hosted by the principal of the Liudu Middle School, Yangfeng Liu (who later became a pastor). I preached in the school while brother Xu led a meeting in the Methodist church. Later, he was hired as a Bible teacher by the Fuzhou Yinghua Middle School that was moved inland to Yangkao to elude the Japanese invasion.
Afterwards, I went to Yongan again to serve the Lord. I led a revival meeting for a week, and conducted the weekly Bible studies and youth fellowships. Here, I noticed the works of the Lord in every aspect as many sinners repented and turned to Christ.Many believers were also revived.
The Chinese New Year had arrived and the sound of fire-crackers filled the air. Seeing the Anti-Japanese War coming to an end and fascism (one of the earthly enemies of God) collapsing, together with the Lord＊s great works in churches everywhere, I was filled with thanksgiving and joy. I did not feel like a victim enduring the hardship of life as a refugee; rather, I felt as if I were seated with the Lord at a feast in celebration of victories.
Moved by the Lord, I left Yongan for Namping after the Chinese New Year. Following my inner lead and by faith, I hired a porter for my luggage and came to the bus terminal. All the way, I looked up to the Lord for provision. At the terminal I bumped into brother Shixing Wang. He bought me a ticket to Namping, checked in my luggage and also gave me $2,000 1 for the journey. Thank God! He never failed and His grace was always sufficient for me! In Nam Ping I met with Brother Zhongkuang Xu who had come from Yangkao and later returned to Liudu to meet with my fourth aunt.
My elderly fourth aunt, Xueyu Zheng, was a gynecologist and obsterician who was widowed after less than a year＊s marriage. She had ardent love for the Lord, was a deaconess in Tianan Church in Fuzhou and had a good reputation in the church. She took her granddaughter and me from Liudu to Yungtai County on sedan chairs. We went over hills, observed many exotic plants and beautiful scenery and perceived the wonder and perfection of God＊s creation. ※＃Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:29)§
After arriving in Yungtai County, brother Xu preached in middle schools and I led a weeklong revival meeting in the local church. Satan was jealous when the Lord used us, and he secretly attacked us. My fourth aunt prayed earnestly for us and, together, we united in fighting against Satan. ※They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony§ (Revelations 12:11). The revival meeting ended smoothly and we sang the song of triumph, ※Victory! Hallelujah!§
As I was about to leave Yuntai after the meeting, the local church gave me $1,000 (Chinese dollars). However, the Lord moved me with such words: ※This money is prepared for Pastor John Yao of a local church.§ Immediately I followed the Lord＊s instructions. Before leaving, my fourth aunt asked, ※We＊re leaving tomorrow. Will you be hiring a sedan-chair with us?§ We had planned to go to Putian County together. Since I did not have the money to pay for the ride, I replied, ※You may hire it; I prefer to walk.§ As we were about to leave, I happened to encounter sister Ruieping Chen who had fled Fuzhou. Moved by the Lord, she personally came to give me $2,000. At the same time sister Zhuying Chen also sent me $2,500 of the Lord＊s money. The $1,000 that I offered was actually ※giving back to God what belonged to Him§, but what the Lord had given me was overflowing blessings.
A week later we passed by Minqing and arrived in Hanjiang of Putian County. Brother Xu led meetings in the Zhele Middle School in Putian and later went to Quanzhou with my fourth aunt to work among students. I led a meeting in a church in Hanjiang for a week and was hosted by my old classmates of the Chinese Evangelical Seminary, sisters Yupei Zheng and Xiuyu Zeng. Sister Zeng translated my sermon into the local dialect; together we carried the ark of God. The Lord Himself manifested His great works and many sinners repented and turned to the Lord. The director of the radio broadcasting station, Guanqun Lin, was saved at this meeting.
In the summer of 1945 the Japanese war equipment became paralyzed, and the situation in Fuzhou was becoming stable. I then left Hanjiang and returned to Fuzhou, putting an end to my refugee life over a span of more than 8 months and a distance of over 600 miles. During this time, I had followed the Lord＊s lead and had sown gospel seeds along the way. May the Lord guard them day and night and water them constantly.
1. During the Anti-Japanese War, there were at least 5 different currencies in circulation. The exchange rates were very confusing and fluctuating. $2,000 (Chinese dollars) may be worth a little more than enough for the traveling expenses she required.