The Struggles of a Lay Preacher

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Preacher Mu holding his Lisu Bible.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, lay preachers continued to minister to the Churches in China. Lay preacher Mu Weixu was one of them.

Lay preacher Mu, from the West Lisu ethnic people group, may only be in his 30s, but his maturity is beyond his years. Mu grew up with parents and grandparents who are believers. They can be credited with not only passing on their faith but more importantly, moulding him to be the God-fearing person he is today.

Mu fell very ill when he was about one year old. He was hospitalized and at one point, the doctors were unsure if he would survive. His grandmother, who was his primary caregiver, asked for the church deacon to pray for Mu at the hospital. Miraculously, Mu regained consciousness after the prayers. One doctor, who witnessed his healing, was so amazed he came to know the Lord!

Growing up, Mu heard this story recounted many times. This made Mu aware of the reality of God and thankful for God’s love.

Mu graduated from the Yunnan Theological Seminary in 2018. Upon graduation, he started to serve in two out of the six churches in Naji village where the total number of believers is between 300 to 400. The predominant ethnic people group in Naji village is the Dai group, and Mu was ministering largely to the Dai ethnic minority group. “It’s difficult to share the Good News with the Dai people, because they have deep-rooted customs and traditional beliefs,” said Mu. Mu and his wife serve in their church as they both share a heartfelt burden to reach out to the Dai people group.

Mu also gets invited to other churches to teach and share the Word. Besides serving in church, Mu regularly taught at the local Bible training centre until the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

With all the work that Mu does, it is surprising to learn that Mu is only a lay preacher. Mu explains, “Lay preachers are not paid by the church. Occasionally church members would give me some offering although they are already so poor.” In order to supplement his income, Mu has to pick tea as a livelihood.

Believers in rural churches, especially the ethnic minority believers who live in rural regions in Yunnan Province, can barely support their preachers. Most of the ethnic minority preachers are “volunteer” preachers who provide for their families through subsistence farming or part-time jobs which they had to take on, in addition to their duties of preaching and pastoring their churches.

Mu observes, “Our relationship with God must always be right. With that in order, even in the face of the challenges like COVID-19 and financial pressures, I believer God will take care of me so I do not have to worry. The Bible helps me to have this correct perspective for these tough times.”

However, Mu admits that he faces the temptation to seek a well-paying job in the city so that he could meet his family’s physical needs, particularly when he became a new father last year and his elderly parents’ health started to fail.

Impact of COVID-19

The widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout China have worsened the financial situation of these poor ethnic minority Christians.

While Yunnan Province is located some 2,ooo km away from Wuhan City, the epicenter of the coronavirus, the nationwide suspension of all church meetings indefinitely until further notice meant that these preachers could not receive any financial support from their congregants. Moreover, part-time work options for them were not possible during the period of travel restrictions and the lockdown in China. But thankfully, Mu was able to receive some financial support from UBS, through the Yunnan Church, which enabled him to continue with his preaching and pastoral ministry.

A Window of Opportunity

The virus outbreak crisis has turned out to be an opportunity for preachers like Mu, to minister to their affected congregants. As many of the rural Christians battle fears of health risks and of losing their jobs in the city, this has become a window of opportunity for these needy preachers to encourage their fellow congregants.

“I am thankful for United Bible Societies’ support through the church, for now I can visit more brothers and sisters, and travel far to preach God’s Word. What’s more, the needs of our baby can be taken care of now. This has strengthened my faith to know that God will always provide for me as I serve Him faithfully!” Brother Mu shared his gratitude with us.

 

In March 2020, we featured how preacher Mu continued to serve God despite being impacted by Covid-19 (https://www.ubscp.org/ministering-amid-covid-19/). We would like to thank donors who had supported him and other needy preachers. Your donations had enabled them to continue with their ministry.

If you would like to support these needy Yunnan preachers, please speak to your respective Bible Societies, designating your donation to “Supporting Needy Preachers in China”. For a list of Bible Societies and their contact details, please visit this page.

Story: Marcus Xiao and Jenise Lee
Photo: Preacher Mu, Yunnan CC/TSPM
2020 © United Bible Societies China Partnership