SHANDONG, China – When Hou Fangyu lost his father at the age of 9, the family was ostracized by their relatives and friends. Slowly, he picked up drinking and became an alcoholic, often getting into trouble and endangering himself.
Once after being intoxicated, he was almost run over by a car when he stumbled in the middle of the road.
“I got my mum very worried,” recalled Hou with remorse.
Hou’s elder sister and younger brother became Christians first. “My sister planted the gospel seed in me but I didn’t respond immediately till the day when my brother who worked as a sailor, went missing in the sea. Unexpectedly, I received Christ then.”
He soon encouraged his mother to come to faith as well. But as she was concerned about the continuation of ancestral worship within the family, she rejected the idea.
“Initially, she tried persuading me to change my mind but after seeing the changes in me after my conversion, and being concerned that if she did not come to faith I would revert to my old ways, she reluctantly converted. Within two weeks of coming to know God, she found herself regretting that she had not done so earlier!”
Hou soon grew in his faith and attended the Lay Training Program at Jinan Seminary and has since been serving the Lord for more than two decades.
He has also been appointed as the Elder of a church in Dongwu Village, Loude Town in Xintai City of Shandong Province, travelling about 45km on his motorbike for each visit.
He also serves as the Chairman of Taian CC/TSPM and takes care of the logistics and organization of the training programs to raise up more volunteers and lay preachers for the church.
“I was just back from preaching at church and was working in my farm before you arrived!” shared Hou. “I preached about not being slothful and bearing a good testimony for the Lord. Christ is our model. We look to Him. People are looking at us, so we need to be good examples.”
Outside his house are trellises covered with plastic sheets, under which are potato plants. As with most rural church workers and preachers, Hou works as a farmer to make ends meet and support his family. Work wise, he straddles between preaching and tending to his potato farm.
To help financially stretched preachers across China, UBS supports the Church in China by distributing free Bible reference books and resources to help them understand the Bible better and for their preaching and teaching ministry. Hou is one of those who received his resources a few months ago.
At the mention of the Bible reference books, Elder Hou enthusiastically brought over the books he had received. His joy was evidenced by his smile that went all the way up to his eyes. These reference books had been a great help to him in the course of his pastoral work.
“Thank you for these precious Bible resources. I wouldn’t have the means to afford them and wouldn’t know where to buy them even if I had the means.”
Story: Zhang Liqin, Translation: Angela Teo
Edited: Cynthia Oh
Photo: Cynthia Oh/UBS CP
2018 © United Bible Societies China Partnership