GUANGZHOU, China –When Rev Qiu (right, with his wife, Zhang Xiaoli) started sharing about his impoverished past and how he overcame his lack of formal education by self-studying, I was amazed by his incredible will-power stemmed from his faith in God.
Clad in a checked short-sleeve shirt and black trousers, Rev Qiu Zhentai, a recent Masters (Theology) graduate from Singapore’s Trinity Theological College began sharing his faith testimony dating back to 1979 – the time his late father was hospitalized.
At 47 years old, his father accepted Christ, all because “strangers” from a church visited the hospital and he was touched by their Christian love. Qiu followed his father to church and together they accepted Christ. Shortly after, Qiu began reading a Bible, given to the family by church friends. This Bible, printed in Hong Kong, was a precious gift to the family, as at that time Bibles were scarce since China had just come out of the Cultural Revolution when Bibles were banned.
Then every child’s nightmare happened. In a matter of two years, Qiu lost both his parents. Qiu lost his father to illness in 1981 and his mother in 1983. At the age of 15, Qiu was orphaned. Qiu roamed the streets canvassing for jobs in order to pay for his school fees. Against this tragic backdrop, what jobs could a young teenager with little formal education acquire? Qiu almost became a beggar, if not for his life-long friend (later wife), Zhang Xiaoli. She encouraged him with a Bible verse from Mark 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (ESV)
Determined to Serve God
This Bible verse helped Qiu to soldier on; working in the day and serving in church at night and during the weekend. During his free time, he studied hard in the hope of enrolling into a Bible school. In 1997, Qiu got into Guangdong Union Theological Seminary and later into Nanjing Union Theological Seminary where he obtained his first degree. What is admirable about Qiu is his determination to keep serving God. Although his formal education was disrupted when his parents died, he never gave up studying and even taught himself English. In 2008, he was offered a place to pursue a Masters in Theology, at Trinity Theological College in Singapore, endorsed by China Christian Council/Three-Self Patriotic Movement. When asked about his future plans, he replied that he hopes to pursue his Doctorate in Theology. In the meantime, he plans to teach in Guangdong Union Theological Seminary to equip more people for the kingdom of God.
Story: Pamela Choo
Edited: Jenise Lee
Photo: UBS CP/ Ellyn Chan
2015 © United Bible Societies China Partnership