“The first bible I saw was very precious because it was during the Cultural Revolution when the Christian faith was prohibited and bibles were not permitted.” – Jiang
Mr Jiang Yuchun and his father heard God’s Word read to them in a secret Christian gathering during the Cultural Revolution. He shared how Scripture reading was conducted and his encounter with the first bible in his life during this difficult period.
TRAGEDY AT HOME
I grew up in the rural areas of Anhui Province, China. When I was 10 months old, my mother met with a terrible accident and her face was disfigured. Due to the lack of medical facilities in the rural areas at that time, my mother died of tetanus infection at a tender age of 20 years old.
My father became mentally unstable shortly after my mother’s death. He turned violent and quarrelsome. His condition deteriorated until he did not want to get out of bed nor was he able to take any food. His body swelled and he was in a lot of pain. Medical doctors were unable to cure him. Witches and temple mediums could not give him any relief. One temple medium even asked our family to prepare for his funeral. My father felt so hopeless that he wanted to commit suicide. But the thought of me, his young son who had already lost his mother, prevented him from taking his own life.
Jesus said, “You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name.” (John 15:16 GNT)
My father once wailed sorrowfully in an eatery. The owner of the eatery upon hearing my father’s unfortunate tragedy, invited him to attend a Christian gathering.
I will always remember my first Christian gathering. We had to walk 20km! At that time, the rural areas in China did not have a watch, clock, television or radio to tell the time. We had to depend on the cock’s crow. We left the house on the third crow. When we reached the meeting place, it was still dark!
There were about 20 people who had already gathered. There was no preaching. One elderly sister would read a portion of the Bible, followed by singing a hymn and everyone began to pray. This sequence would repeat. When it was lunch time, the people would bring out the food they brought and give more to the elderly and children.
After my father had attended the gathering for three weeks, his condition miraculously improved. A month later, he returned to good health and had the strength to work in the fields. A strong passion started to burn in his heart to share the gospel. He invited his friends and relatives to the gathering. He did not forget to bring his 10 year-old son there as well. We had to meet secretly in a home because it was still during the Cultural Revolution.
THE FIRST BIBLE I SAW
The first bible I saw was very precious because it was during the Cultural Revolution when the Christian faith was prohibited and bibles were not permitted. The preacher would hold on to his precious bible tightly. Ordinary believers were not allowed to touch it. I was considered a relatively obedient child, the preacher allowed me to take a quick glance. The bible was in the traditional Chinese script.
I was only in elementary school at that time. With limited vocabulary, I could understand little. Nevertheless, that very first moment of touching the precious Holy Bible was an indescribable feeling of being filled with reverent awe and joy.
This bible has an amazing history. The Preacher who owns the bible was in his 40s. He received Jesus as his personal Saviour when he was 13 years old. He joined an evangelistic choir group when he was 15 years old and made Gospel sharing his life purpose. The preacher told me, “I was mad like Paul for the Gospel”. He would travel to different places almost daily to share the Gospel at the risk of being caught any moment during the Cultural Revolution. In order to protect the bible from being confiscated by the authorities, he passed the bible to a female preacher in his same church.
On 14 October 1975, as a result of his belief in Christ, the preacher was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Despite his own predicament, he did not forget to remind his mother to take care of the believers. When the Cultural Revolution was over, the preacher was released in December 1979 and became an elder of a church in Anhui Province. He is now 79 years old this year and I have the privilege of meeting him personally recently.
It took me 30 years to find him. He gave the precious bible to me and I will forever treasure it.
Translated by Ms Chiong Min Lee, Assistant to Coordinator
Edited by Ms Yeo Tan Tan, Program Manager
United Bible Societies, China Partnership