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JIANGSU, China – Thirty-six years ago, Xiong Juanfen (left) was working in a textile mill in her hometown when the chance to enroll into Nanjing Theological Seminary came. Her church had planned to send six members for enrolment but the response was not good. She was the only person who signed up for the entrance examinations.

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Believers during a prayer meeting at the main church at Luhe district. (Photo: UBS CP/ Cynthia Oh

NANJING, China – When Rev Liu Xiaofan, 57, was working as a carpenter in his younger days, he did not expect himself to be repairing and restoring chairs for his church a decade later. “This church was built in 1924. It has an eventful history and there’s an amazing story behind the pews too,” shared Rev Liu from the dining cum living room of his home, adjacent to the church building.

Of Chairs The greyish two-storey church building, having stood for the past 90 years is awash with history and charm. It saw the ravages of the Sino-Japanese War, rise of Communism, onslaught of Cultural Revolution, and the open door policy of Deng Xiaoping, with her fate rising and falling according to the times. Besides being used as what it is in the beginning as a church, it was also used later as an exhibition hall, then a community hall where movie screenings and other mass gatherings were held and even as a commercial warehouse before it was eventually reinstated for religious activity in 1984. “When it was reinstated as a church in 1984, there was even a life-sized statue of Mao Zedong in the middle of the sanctuary that had to be moved to another place!”

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YUNNAN, China - Yu Meili, 27, is one of the needy preachers supported by UBS. Her name, “Meili” means beautiful in Chinese. She is indeed a fine-looking lady and lives in Lijiang, a Unesco Heritage site well known for its historical sites and charming people. But beyond her appearance is a heart of gold especially towards the young people whom she ministers to in her county.

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