YOUR ROD AND YOUR STAFF THEY COMFORT ME
The Second Visitation
As I headed to work one day in the winter of 1977, I had a relapse of angina pectoris (a heart condition). The teammates sent me back to the quarters and sent for the Labor Camp doctor to rescue me. The team doctor, a Catholic nun, told me, ※Your condition is very serious; you may die any time.§ She let me take care of my belongings, giving away the ordinary things and saving the more valuable ones. ※After you＊ve died, I＊ll cable your brother to collect them,§ she said.
What is meant by viewing death as going home? It was not until this critical moment that I truly understood. I was not dying but merely relocating 每 to move from the world back to the Heavenly home, a far better place!
After my health improved, the team doctor certified my sick leave for long-term rest. I requested that I be sent to Shanghai for medical treatment. Surprisingly, the team leader gave approval for me to go to Xiamen in Fujian Province instead.
I truly believed that Jehovah＊s thoughts were higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways (Isaiah 55: 8-9). I just had to praise and obey Him.
1. Re-Visiting Xiamen
In the summer of 1936, several members and I represented the Fuzhou evangelistic team to participate in the second National Bible-Study Conference in Xiamen, led by Dr. John Song. Presently, I was revisiting this place all by myself. The way times and things had changed filled me with painful recollections. Flashing back, Dr. Song was able to preach freely here on the piers, playgrounds and in churches. Though faced with persecution like all other churches in the nation, the Church in Xiamen was especially well guarded by the Lord; many Christians still held on to the Truth and churches prospered, thus shaming Satan and bringing glory to the Lord＊s holy name.
As versed in the Minnan (Southern Fujian) Hymnal: ※Generation after generation ＃ hasten the pilgrimage without delay, focus on the Lord＊s work every day,§ the Lord had personally revived the young Christian generation in Xiamen! Lacking Bibles, they hand-copied them on paper or on white cloth; they recited the Bible, not verse by verse or chapter by chapter but book by book.
Wherever the Lord＊s Spirit was, there was freedom. The Gospel could not be bound under any kind of circumstance. Not free to meet publicly, people met in homes.
One day a sister said, ※Sister Zheng, please come with me.§ I followed her to the street and arrived in a building. The upper floor was fully filled with many young sisters. The sister who brought me told me that they were all new believers and asked me to encourage them.Another day, a brother notified me to go to a different place. Entering the house, I saw it was filled with young brothers and sisters. A youth told me, ※We＊re all the Lord＊s servants; please edify us.§
Yet another time, an elderly sister brought me to a distant place. We entered a building, walked past a verandah to a small shed on the top fully packed with elderly, literate sisters. As introduced by the sister who led the way, these sisters were all serving the Lord, learning how to preach to fishermen, in particular.
Once, a sister took me across the sea to a small island,named Beating Waves Island. We entered a building, the third floor of which was fully filled with young men and women. I was deeply touched by their desire for Truth and their earnest prayers.
The day after the Lunar New Year Festival, a brother notified me to go to a house by the seaside to lead a meeting attended by college graduates working in various schools and organizations. The spiritual atmosphere of the meeting that night was rich. It started with each of their testimonies, followed by my sermon. As we prayed, we could truly feel the Lord＊s presence.
Another day, a sister in Beating Waves Island invited me to a meeting at her home. Unexpectedly, the rain poured incessantly after dinner. This young sister carried an umbrella and accompanied me to the meeting despite the downpour. I asked her, ※With such heavy rain, will people come?§
※It doesn＊t matter even if it were heavier,§ she replied.
That night, the Lord＊s love had drawn more than 20 youths to the meeting, many of whom had crossed the sea from Xiamen, undeterred by rain or wind.
Amid these numerous meetings, there was no information leakage. When I arrived at a meeting place, I did not ask about the address, the name of the host, or such. I could not tell who the leader was except that it was clear that the Lord himself was at work.1
I lived in my sister＊s home that was not very spacious. With members continually coming for fellowship day and night, it was so overcrowded that even beds were used for sitting.
On rainy days, there were even more visitors. Brothers and sisters figured that the rain would keep people indoors and that, with fewer visitors, there would be more time for fellowship. This explained why there were more visiting members on a rainy day than on a sunny one. My nephew, who had not yet accepted Christ, remarked jokingly after seeing and hearing what was going on. ※Aunt is even busier than the Prime Minister!§
May such work, unlike the earthly work of wood, hay and straw, be recorded2 in Heaven.
During my stay in Xiamen, preachers were not seen, churches were not opened and no formal church existed; yet it was clear that the Holy Spirit was doing great works and that the dry bones of the valley, having received the Lord＊s breath, had come back to life to be a great army (Ezekiel 37:1-10). The Lord personally led the church bravely onward in the good fight for the Truth.
I was sick as I was working in Xiamen. Even though I should have been convalescing, I was so engaged in work that I even forgot I was sick. It was only by the support of the Lord＊s right hand that I was able to complete the task He had assigned me. Thank God! His grace was sufficient for me and His strength was made perfect in weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).
2. Return to Fuzhou
In their love, brothers and sisters in Xiamen took me to Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province. Fuzhou was where I had studied and worked for many years and for which I had great sentiments. During the separation of almost 20 years, I constantly recalled brothers and sisters here. Recounting past works through the Lord, I truly believed that the labor in the Lord was not in vain, for He would definitely keep watch day and night and water constantly. 3
My first host was a couple who was in the college fellowship when I worked in the Student Union. They suffered greatly for the Lord over a long time and were preserved by Him. Having stayed in their home for a few days, I noticed that their whole family was leading a spiritual life. I was particularly touched by their concern for lost souls.
Later, an elderly sister who had formerly attended Tianan Church took me into her home. Despite her old age, this sister＊s love for the Lord had grown. She got up at 4 a.m. to pray and did not sleep until 11p.m. or 12 mid-night. She was both zealous and faithful to the Lord. At the time, listening to overseas broadcast was prohibited. Not fearing family objection, this old sister listened daily to the gospel broadcast and seized every opportunity to pass on what she had heard. Therefore, every day many people came to listen to her, and she was a channel of living water used by the Lord.
As soon as I arrived at her home, she notified some old Christian acquaintances to meet with me. We then had small meetings in her home. Having been through prolonged ※days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil§ (Psalm 90:15) , we had all aged. However, He had ※crowned our years with goodness§ (Psalm 65:11) , and had let us ※taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!§ (Psalm 34:8) . With great joy and tears, we knelt down to pray, heartily thanking the Lord for years of safekeeping and blessing.
After the meeting, a sister told me that one Christmas, some members here took up three tables in a restaurant. As they ate, they remembered the Lord＊s birth, had fellowship and offered thanksgivings to the Lord. Before they departed, the waiter (also a Christian) announced, ※On the 25 th of December next year, you＊ll be welcomed back!§ In those days, members everywhere met and fellowshipped as they ate together or by other means, enabling the spiritual life to ※take root downward and bear fruit upward§ (II King 19:30) even in dangerous circumstances. Such was one of the exemplary testimonies of the Church in China.
3. Pingnan, My Hometown
My brother made a special trip to Fuzhou to bring me back to my old home in Pingnan. His five children also took leave to come to see me. Ever since the first visitation in 1973, I had earnestly cried out to the Lord to save my five nieces and nephews. Praise the Lord who listened to prayers! Things had taken a turn this time: the eldest was saved, the second and third both indicated their acceptance of the Lord, and the fifth was not yet a believer but did not object to the Gospel. I truly trusted in the Lord＊s promise: ※Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household§ (Acts 16:31). Later, the fifth also accepted Christ.
My brother was the spiritual fruit of Dr. John Song, and was saved before I was. He loved me very much, and was greatly upset when, after the expiration of my prison term, I continued wearing the ※counter-revolutionary hat§ and suffering in the labor camp. He therefore wrote to me: ※Sister, strive to take off the counter-revolutionary hat. Get out and spend the rest of your life with me.§
I realized that this was a temptation from Satan, the way he used Peter＊s flesh to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem, to which the Lord responded, ※Go behind me, Satan. You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of
God, but the things of men§ (Matthew 16:23). I then wrote him back: ※I am not striving to take off my counter-revolutionary hat but, rather, to put on my hat 每 the crown of righteousness§ (Timothy 4:8). It is not that you do not know the Truth; as regards my affliction, you should have written to encourage me. You should not say words that are not beneficial to me.§ Since then, he had not raised this topic.
During my visitation, I heard that several miracles had occurred in recent years in my hometown.
One morning in Sanbao Village in Gutian County, a tofu maker by her workshop door saw the heavenly gate open and a long ladder being lowered to the ground with a figure in a long garment carrying a lantern going up and down the ladder. Shocked at this sight, she hurried to her bedroom to wake her husband up to get him to watch with her, but she could not speak. She made her way back to the workshop. Seeing that the heavenly gate and ladder were still there, she ran to her daughter＊s room to call her to watch, but, again, could not speak. Back at the workshop door, she saw the heavenly gate and ladder becoming blurry until they finally disappeared. At the time of this incident, someone else in another village in Pingnan County also had a similar encounter.
The second opened heavenly gate was seen by doctors, nursing director and staff members of the Pingnan Hospital. They accepted the faith because of this encounter, and have since been kept by the Lord until this day. One of them, a surgeon stricken with cancer, saw angels coming to take him right before he passed away, going to the heavenly Home in joy and peace.The third opened heavenly gate took place in a government-operated farm in Pingnan County. Five adults and children saw at the same time a big, opened gate in the sky from which many angels flew out.
A residence in a village several miles away was haunted day and night. As the problem grew more serious at night and the residents had no peace and sleep, they had to keep the place well lit throughout the night. Despite trying all sorts of superstitious means, the villagers failed to bring peace to this haunted residence. Later, having heard that Christians could cast out demons, they used every means to bring in an old Christian lady. Illiterate and unable to read the Bible or sing hymns, this lady merely had a believing heart; and since she had been asked to cast out demons, she had to oblige. She opened the door of a room in this haunted residence, went inside and said, ※I won＊t (cast out demons), Jesus will; I can＊t, Jesus can.§ Having said that, she closed the door. She went on to open the doors of the second room, the third room and so on, repeating the same words. Amazingly, since that night, this residence had been demon-free.
That night, there was knocking on the door of a residence several miles from the haunted residence. The owner asked, ※How many of you out there?§
※40§ was the reply.
The owner dared not open the door, saying, ※My home is small, can＊t take in so many.§
The response came from outside the door, ※We aren＊t going to stay; just a short rest before daybreak before going on with the journey.§
The next morning, the owner opened the door and found nothing unusual, and the neighbors were undisturbed. A few days later, they found out that the time the door was knocked was exactly the time the old Christian lady cast out the demons.
A witch in Meihuade Village was a psychic and could predict with accuracy, drawing many people from far and near to seek her advice on matters big and small. There was an idol in her home that was zealously worshipped. One day, as usual, she burned incense and ※practiced s谷ance§4 for the seekers. Usually, once the incense started burning, she could dance and pass on psychic messages to the seekers. That day, however, this did not happen. What was the reason? Everyone queried. Later, it was learned that in the court outside the house where s谷ance was practiced, a young child was singing. On finding out that he was singing ※Jesus songs,§ the child was lured to another place.
After he had left, the witch began to dance, saying, ※I＊m small, Jesus is big; I＊m false, God is real. Go and believe in Jesus and worship God!§
Waking up after the dance, she told everyone, ※Since the demon is small and false, why should we be cheated?§ She grabbed a rod and broke the idols and incense burner intopieces. Next, she announced, ※I＊ll follow Jesus!§
That night, the whole neighborhood was haunted, and together with hordes of mice running all over the place, the residents had no peace. Everyone urged the witch to think of a solution. Later, an elderly Christian in the village was asked to come. After he had prayed in the name of the Lord, the demons and mice disappeared and never caused trouble again. The Lord who alone does great wonders should be praised! (Psalm 136:4)
During the time of my visitation, the Labor Camp granted permission for the old, sick and disabled to depart, for which I qualified. My relatives welcomed my ※return of leaves to the roots,§ and my brother＊s family, especially, looked forward to my early reunion. During the cumbersome processing of the request at various levels, the village production team did not object to it, the main team supported it, the community center (presently called the village government) approved it, and the request was submitted to the County Public Security Bureau. The final decision, however, was that owing to a lack of understanding of me as a result of my long absence, the request ※could not be accepted.§ This vast piece of land could not even accommodate a feeble woman born and raised on it!
The Bible says, ※in Him we live and move and have our being§(Acts 17:28) . Since the Lord had, by way of human hand, stopped me from staying behind in my hometown, I could only submit. I did not feel sad at all; I even had a glad notion that the Lord had something better reserved for me.
In the summer of 1978, I left Pingnan, my hometown, and returned happily to South Lake Camp. One night in bed, I quietly said to the Lord, ※I take this bed of clay to be an altar. Today, Your child is placing herself on the altar to re-consecrate herself. Your child is willing to grow old here and die here if it is good in your sight.§ Having prayed, my heart was filled with peace and joy. The Lord accepted my offering and had given me a heart of obedience and submission (I Samuel 15:22). Since then, the rice tasted especially good, the stale pickles tasted fresh and delicious, and I got along very well with the teammates.
＃ He said to me, ＆My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.＊§ (II Corinthians 12:9)
Not everyone who says to Me, ＆Lord, Lord,＊ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ＆Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?＊ And then I will declare to them, ＆I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!§ (Matthew 7:21-23)
1. Great caution was taken as far as contact among small meeting groups were concerned. Only leading members of family meetings knew each other.
2. Malachi 3:16 每 ※Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.§
3. Isaiah 27:3 - ※I, the Lord, keep it, I water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I keep it night and day.§
4. The motions of a demon-possessed witch or warlock.