NANJING, China — “I like to come here because there are lots of people!” exclaimed Ni Ping, an 11-year-old girl, sitting in a classroom together with a few other children. She is referring to the Sunday School which is supported by United Bible Societies.
Each Sunday, Ni wakes up, prepares her own breakfast and buses down to the church where she sings praise songs and listens to Bible stories. Her parents are non-believers busy working in the town center and do not mind her attending church.
Cheng Zhengkang, 13, also attends Sunday School at the same church. His father works in Nanjing city center and comes home once a month. “He has been working there since the day Zhengkang was born,” recalled Chen Cuixin, aunt of Zhengkang who brings him to church. When asked if he misses his father, Zhengkang shyly replied, “No.” But he adds that he looks forward to visiting his father in the coming summer holiday.
Ni Ping and Zhengkang are among the 61 million children left behind by one or both parents, most of whom have poured into the cities to work in higher-paying jobs. It has been reported that these left-behind children are vulnerable to being kidnapped, sexually assaulted and left to die. They are also prone to depression and suicide.
Against such a bleak backdrop, it is heartening to see these children attending Sunday School and coming to know God.
“I pray for my grandma who has weak legs and for my parents too,” said Ni Ping who considers herself a Christian. “I read the book of Genesis.” So does she know that she is created in God’s own image? “Yes, so is everyone!” replied Ni Ping with a smile.
Zhenkang, who loves to play soccer, said, “We learnt today from the story of Jacob and Esau not to be selfish and steal things which do not belong to you.”
Besides Bible stories, the children also enjoy playing drums during Sunday School.
Luo Mingxiang, 37, who works as a cleaner, brings her two boys for Sunday school. “My husband is working in the city and comes back only once a month.”
Her sons, Xinhu, 17 and Xinchen, 6, look forward to playing drums when they come to church. “I like to play drums. The elderly uncle will teach us every Sunday,” shared Xinhu, a teenager with autism attending special school. “He used to be really silent, just didn’t want to talk. Now he’s opening up more,” Mingxiang shared happily.
The elderly uncle who teaches the children drumming is Wang Zuwu, 75, a Sunday School volunteer. He too brings his grandniece, Yuxin, 11, to Sunday school as both her parents, non-believers, are working in Nanjing city central. “It is good that instead of staying home and watching TV, she’s here in church learning about God and interacting with other children.”
Since attending Sunday School, Yuxin has learnt to encourage people to pray when they are in need. “She recently encouraged her uncle who fell sick to pray to God.”
It is our prayer that more of these left-behind children would be reached through these Sunday school programmes.
Story: Cynthia Oh
Edit: Angela Tay
2015 © United Bible Societies China Partnership