Amazing Grace

    

Chapter Seven
FAMILY FOR THE SOLITARY

My Old Home in Pingnan

In November 1979, I returned to my old home in Pingnan, accompanied by brother Zhou. We notified my brother by telegram several days before we set out. We took a train from Shanghai to Eyang, a journey that should take about 25 hours. We arrived more than 5 hours late, without knowing why. However, the Lord never failed; just as the train reached the station, my brother arrived. We found out later that telegrams to villages were transmitted together with ordinary mail, and so it took 4 days for telegrams from Shanghai to reach the mountain region of Pingnan. As soon as he received the telegram, my brother came by car. Fortunately, the train arrived late; otherwise, we would have ended up homeless!

Brother Zhou returned to Shanghai a week later, and I stayed behind in my old home for 4 months.

My old home was situated high in the mountain ranges, and it was quite cold in the winter. The Holy Spirit urged me to take advantage of the quiet winter to preach the gospel to fellow villagers. When news spread that ※the lady who has left for over 20 years has now returned!§ many relatives came to see me. Meetings were held every night. In the beginning, only family members attended; later, neighbors also came. A while later, school students and staff members, and even road (or railroad) maintenance workers also joined in, totaling more than 60. The seats in the lounge were all filled, and additional seating had to be made by using bed planks as benches.

The Holy Spirit was at work. Some saved were individuals while some were whole families. One road maintenance worker had come to listen a few times. That night I said that sin was a chain that could put people in bondage and make them lose their freedom, and that they could not free themselves of this bondage by their own efforts. For instance, a person over a meter tall could not even free himself of the bondage of an inch-long cigarette. Being unconvinced, the worker thought, ※What sin is it to smoke cigarettes?§ Right at that time, the box of matches for lighting up cigarettes, which he was holding, suddenly lit up. He quickly dropped the matches to the ground and stamped out the fire. A female high-school student sitting next to him said, ※See, how real God is! Why don*t you believe in him right away?§ That night, he accepted Christ.

His bad temper changed immensely since he accepted the Lord. One day, the meeting ended very late and it was midnight by the time he returned home. Upset over his lateness, his wife refused to open the door for him. Though locked out for a couple of hours in the cold, he did not complain and even spoke cheerfully to his wife after he entered the house. His wife was greatly touched and said, ※It*s good to believe in Jesus, for it eradicates bad temper!§

A lady teacher prayed with me after accepting Jesus, ※Lord, how great your love is for me! Not that I found you, but you*ve found me.§ She had a good understanding of God*s love and was zealously concerned for others. One rainy day, her husband came to the meeting, holding an umbrella and carrying a child on his back. Touched by the Holy Spirit, he repented and accepted Jesus, praying with his wife in one accord. He asked me that night, ※Aunt, why are there so few Christians and so many non-Christians?§

Turning to the Book of Matthew, I showed him: ※Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it§ (Matthew 7:13, 14).

The Lord*s words opened his heart and he said, ※Oh, I understand! The Lord*s way is narrow, and so is the gate. Believers cannot smoke, drink, gamble, curse and fight. No wonder there are so few Christians.§

There was a family in which every member was a Christian. The eldest son*s wife wanted to bear a child. She had been to a temple and had stolen a shoe from the idol, Goddess Guanyin, vowing, ※If you bless me with child, I*ll give you a pair of new shoes.§ After accepting Jesus, she became pregnant and asked me how she should deal with the matter of stolen shoe. I advised her to pray earnestly and then to deal with the matter herself. During the month after delivery, she told her mother who had come to visit her from another village, ※The idol was fake! I threw the stolen shoe into the furnace earlier. Without the goddess* blessing, I still had a smooth delivery.§ She even seized the opportunity to persuade her mother to accept Jesus. Her husband*s brothers bought a semi-conductor radio after they accepted Christ. They listened to the gospel broadcast every night and retold it to other people as they worked in the daytime.

A female road worker who was a high school graduate frequently preached the gospel after accepting Christ. She was one of only 3 believing road workers. Not too well grounded in Truth, she was quite incapable of winning listeners to Christ despite her efforts. One day she had a hard time convincing her listeners when she preached. In her anxiety, she appealed to the Lord for assistance. Right at that moment, a bicycle rider passed by. He made his way back and asked her, ※Are any of you Christians?§ She asked in return, ※Are you a Christian?§ Learning that he was a Christian, she requested him to preach to the other workers. The workers remarked, ※Your God is so real. Seeing that you can*t convince us, He sent immediate aid!§ It turned out that the brother on the bicycle who happened to have spoken to the sister was returning to his village after visiting me. One day, this sister was at work when all of a sudden she noticed her pants shook while at the same time hearing the loud cry of a nearby worker. It was later found that the worker had dropped an 8-pound hammer that had come off the handle, which brushed by her pants before dropping to the ground. This sister told the other workers, ※You still say there*s no God? If God hadn*t intervened, my leg would have been broken.§

On Sundays we had meetings throughout the day. Besides local Christians, many Christians from other villages also came. Those who came from afar stayed for lunch after the morning sessions and joined in the afternoon sessions. Many mature Christians of the former Gu/Ping (Gutian/Pingnan) parishes also came to the meetings. Some of them rode bicycles for miles; some traveled for 2 days by bus; some stayed for a week for fellowship; before the first group of participants had left the second group arrived.

Preparation of food and lodging for so many comers was by no means a small task. Fortunately, there were some rooms to spare in the village. My brother, too, was in one accord with me, and his wife worked all day preparing food and drinks, practicing ※abounding in the work of the Lord§ (I Corinthians 15: 58).

I was invited by the mature Christians of the Gu/Ping parishes to preach in towns but the doors were closed a short while later. Thank God for letting me work at home! During the New Year Festival, more people met in my home. I spoke from morning till afternoon and, after pausing for dinner and a short recess, resumed preaching, making the best use of time.

Being unaccustomed to Bible study during imprisonment and in Labor Camps, together with a lack of systematic study during brief visitation periods, I had a feeling of dryness and poverty in spirit in addition to physical fatigue. However, seeing the thirst and hunger for righteousness of members in these mountain regions who had made long and arduous journeys to come to me, I could only plead for bread at night and for the Lord to send down spiritual food to feed His sheep. In the 4 short months that followed, He had heard our cries, providing seeds for the sowers and bread for the hungry, thus fulfilling my protracted desire for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be spread in my hometown.

After the New Year Festival, an overseas Chinese from Sarawak visited me and gave me several books and a vest. I learned that he was a member of the ※ New Testament Church§ and that the logo on the vest identified the wearer as a member of that church. I openly pointed out that he was exalting Duanyi Jiang who was preaching a different Jesus, a different spirit and a different gospel.

This person left grudgingly, but did not give up. He went to the towns and misled some people, baptizing them and laying hands on them for receiving the Holy Spirit. Hearing this, I immediately hastened to those towns and invited the mature Christians and those who were misled, totaling 20 to 30, to study the Bible together, pointing out that ※New Testament Church§ was a heresy.

I returned to Fuzhou from Shanghai a month later. On my way, I stopped by the towns for a few days, and taught them the verses Galatians 1:7, 8; II Corinthians11:4; Ephesians 4:13-16 and others. I encouraged them to grow in Christ, to discern (Philippians 1:10), and to stand fast with one spirit and one mind (Philippians 1:27), pressing towards the goal (Philippians 3:14).

Thanks to the Lord for His own work through the Holy Spirit in awakening those who were led astray, for strengthening mature Christians with regard to the discernment of spirits (I Corinthians 12:10) and for increasing their faith!

 

 

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