HUNAN, China – Gu Zhi Zhong is 72 years old. Quiet, unassuming and gentle, this elderly brother goes to the Gospel Church in Zhangjiajie. Despite his age and weakening eyesight, he remains an active church member committed to a Bible study group. In fact, he had even signed up for a lay preacher’s training course held annually in his church.
Drawn to the Bible
Gu has had his fair share of hard knocks in life but he has also experienced tremendous grace from God, one of which is the presence of His Word during some very challenging times.
In 1990, his wife died when she was only 48 years old, leaving him to raise their four children alone. During this period of bereavement and crisis, his brother-in-law invited him to church. There, he saw a book that would change his life.
“I saw an old Bible with traditional Chinese characters which I recognised. I wanted to read the book because of this.” So, he bought a Bible from the church bookshop and began to read. Initially, he did not understand very much of the contents. He did not even know the name “Jesus”. But he persevered in his reading and also began attending Bible study classes in church. Through this gradual process, he came to faith in Jesus.
“I discovered that the Bible was of great help to me. After my wife died, I had a heavy burden to bear and struggled hard to raise four children. But I found great comfort and strength in the faith, amidst all the hard work and difficult times,” he shared. “Before I became a Christian, I was in poor health, but after my conversion, I became much better.”
He was especially pleased when he came to 1 Corinthians 7:39 where Scriptures allow remarriage after the passing of one’s spouse. “For three years, from 2005 to 2008, I prayed to find a new wife. Finally I did find one. She accepted Christ when we got married. Now I’m 72, and she is 68 years old. God has given me a good life again, blessing me with a second marriage and restoring my health. That is why I would like to serve God by signing up for this Bible course,” Gu shared, referring to the lay preachers’ training in Gospel Church Zhangjiajie, which is held for 10 days each year.
Preserved for a higher purpose
Gu has personally experienced God’s miraculous saving grace when he had a close shave with death in 2000. He was run over by a heavily loaded van on his way home from church one Sunday. Relating his harrowing experience, Gu shared, “When the wheel rolled over me, I cried out, ‘Lord, help me!’ Amazingly, I was able to get up, completely unharmed! I said to the bystanders, ‘It was Jesus who saved me!’”
There were seven eyewitnesses to the accident and all became Christians afterwards! Gu explained, “They had seen what happened, they heard the prayer I cried out, and they heard me say that it was Jesus who saved me. They had seen the miracle right before their eyes, and said, ‘It must be very good to be a Christian.’”
This experience of having brought seven persons to Christ continues to encourage him today and reminds him of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, that the work of a disciple of Christ is to tell others about Jesus.
God’s Word has seen Gu through all the different seasons in his life and given him the inner strength to pull through difficult times. It has also made him want to serve God and His people even more in the ministry of the Word. The lay preacher’s training he attended will help deepen his Biblical knowledge and allow him to support ordained pastors in their pastoral and preaching ministry.
Given that there is only one ordained pastor for every 6,700 Christians in China, lay preachers like Gu are vital to the work. UBS is partnering the Church in China in the equipping and training of these individuals by providing Study Bibles, Bibles and other resources. May God provide continued funding to support the ministry of preparing labourers for His field.
Story: Angela Teo (Based on notes prepared by Hans Johan Sagrusten)
Edited: Cynthia Oh
Photo: Andrea Rhodes/UBS CP
2017 © United Bible Societies China Partnership