CHINA – One look at joyful 91-year-old Madam Wang Chongci, you would never have imagined that she and her family had once gone through years of persecution because of their faith.
Wang grew up in a Christian family. Her own father was a pastor, her mother was a preacher and Wang herself married a lay preacher.
Her late husband, Liu Shengmin, was an English teacher. He was also a graduate from a prominent Bible school in China, hence he was a well-respected man in the local churches. These credentials however brought him nothing but trouble during those tumultuous times in China’s history.
When China’s political campaign (1957 – 1959) started, Liu Shengmin was arrested in Shanghai and labelled as a counter-revolutionary. He was imprisoned for five years in Qinghai, a province Northwest of China, thereafter he went through “a reform through labour” programme for another three years.
Being separated from her husband for eight years, Wang had to care for the needs of her children on her own. She started to develop serious stomach disorders due to stress. Nevertheless, she kept on trusting God and His faithfulness.
When Liu was finally allowed to come back home to be reunited with the family, the situation did not take a turn for the better. By this time, the Cultural Revolution had become a full-blown movement. Still being regarded as one of the bad-influencers, Mr. Liu was closely watched at home. He was placed under house arrest and assigned to hard labour.
During the characteristic “struggle sessions” aimed at publicly mistreating and humiliating “state enemies’, Mr. Liu was frequently taken to the streets or public spaces, wearing a tall hat and a sign mocking him as a Christian and a counter-revolutionary. Madam Wang wept as she witnessed her husband going through these things.
Because of Liu’s blacklisting, the whole family was implicated: Their sons were denied entry into schools; even their extended family members ended up losing their chances to get decent jobs. On one occasion, some of his relatives stormed into Liu’s house and started smashing furniture and appliances. They were angered that their son was barred from joining the military because of Liu.
Through the Generations
Even under these unimaginable persecutions, Madam Wang saw how her husband stayed faithful to God. Liu never once denied his faith. At the time when the Bible was banned in China, he would comfort and encourage his family by reading God’s Word secretly or hand-copying the scriptures.
Liu left a spiritual legacy for his family: One of his sons is now an elder in a local church while one of his grandsons is a lecturer at Shandong Theological Seminary.
For all that she has gone through over the years, Madam Wang has become more assured of the love and grace of God, finding comfort especially in her favourite verses Psalms 103:1-5, which she recited softly by memory: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!…”
Madam Wang now lives by herself in a small housing unit attached to a small church. She enjoys praying alone and singing praises to God because God has been merciful and gracious to her over the years.
Every day, she brings her prayers and intercessions to the Lord. There are 850,000 people in the county where she lives, but with only about 10,000 baptized Christians, her daily prayer is that more will be saved. She also prays for those who are suffering from sicknesses, for the Church that there will be more workers equipped to preach the Good News; and for all Christians to step up and advance the Kingdom of God together.
Story: Marcus Xiao and Pamela Choo
2020 © United Bible Societies China Partnership