An Unforgettable Elderly Believer

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A heartfelt sharing by a friend of United Bible Societies during a Bible distribution trip reminds us that God does not forget His people.

Wujiayuan Church in Lanzhou city of Gansu province

GANSU, China – Wujiayuan Church is a meeting point in Lanzhou city, the capital of Gansu province. The two-storey church building located in a residential area, though small, looked clean and well-kept. When we arrived, we realised that dozens of elderly believers with greying hair were already waiting for us.

When these old believers knew that we were coming to give them large-print Bibles, they were smiling happily and saying repeatedly, “Thank you God!”

One elderly woman dressed simply was sitting very quietly on the pews. When I looked at her eyes, she smiled at me gently. I thought to myself: what a benevolent-looking old lady!

One by one, the elderly believers came up to the podium to receive a free copy of the Bible from elders of the church. They were each looking carefully at their copy of a large-print Bible, all holding it tightly in their hands like a great treasure.

Zhang Yufang was moved to receive a large-print Bible.

When it was the elderly lady’s turn, a middle-aged believer walked up to her and whispered something into her ear. The old lady then stood up. Walking slowly and unsteadily, she received her Bible respectfully from the elder, her hands trembling and eyes tearing up.

I was so drawn to this elderly lady that I could not wait to step forward to hold her hands and talk to her. When I asked the church elders if I could have a chat with her, I was told that she was hard of hearing.

My heart sank: I had wanted to hear her testimony so badly as I had a hunch, by looking at her eyes, that she must have gone through much hardship. Although time was very tight and we had to hurry on to the next church, I sat down with the church elder and two pastors to find out more about this old lady.

Her name is Zhang Yufang. She has been a Christian for more than 30 years. They learned that when she was very young, she was given away to another family where she had been badly treated. Later she married and embraced the Christian faith. She subsequently led her own family to the Lord Jesus.

About ten years after she became a Christian, Zhang’s son unexpectedly died of kidney disease.

Zhang, a faithful Christian for more than 30 years, has been serving quietly and humbly in church all these years.

Despite grieving from her sudden loss, her faith in the Lord was never shaken. She would attend worship service regularly and served faithfully in church.

The elders of the church said that Zhang is like a “true Israelite” whose faith is solid and unadulterated, a good example for them to learn from. For many years, Zhang has been serving quietly and humbly in menial tasks like making sure that the washrooms are always clean and dry.

Zhang also gave to the Lord in other ways, said the church elders. As an electric welder, Zhang helped to weld the structure of the two-storey high church building together, with whatever limited free time she had, spending hours laboriously climbing up and down, welding a little at a time. Soon with her help, the church was converted from three small houses to a small two-storey high building.

Looking at Zhang Yufang’s hands now – her fingers and joints are somewhat shrivelled and deformed – I marvelled at them with much respect, for these hands had once cared for an ailing son, nursed a bedridden husband, and served the church in more ways than one. I wondered to myself how much injury these hands would have suffered when welding together the church building frames.

Zhang Yufang, a quiet and unassuming old lady, has left such an indelible impression upon my heart.

 

Story and Photos: Zipporah Zu
2022 © United Bible Societies China Partnership