GUIZHOU, China – He used to steal, smoke and drink excessively. He took drugs and led a life of total dissipation.
This was how Yang Shunkai lived until his wife’s family who are Christians shared the gospel with him. Yang believed and repented before God; he then began to take active steps to quit those vices and bad habits. By the grace of God, he was free from all the above.
“I’m a sinner and God saved me. I had deserved death but God gave me a new life in Christ,” said Yang, 45, who is now a lay preacher from the Miao ethnic minority group in Luizhi county, Guizhou province.
Like Job, He Learnt Perseverance in Trials
However, his “new life” was not so smooth-sailing. In 2015, he lost his daughter-in-law to multiple organ failure. Barely a year later, his 5-year old grandson died of lymphoma.
What followed was a painful journey of doubting and questioning of God’s goodness while facing mockery from both believers and non-believers who taunted him saying, “Where is your God?” and “Why do you still keep your faith?”
But he kept praying and asking God to lead and guide him. “God is the closest person to me in this world. I turn to Him in prayers and depend solely on Him to lead me.”
Learning from Job, one of the Biblical characters, he asked God for His grace to hold his tongue and for wisdom to deal with his neighbours’ ridicule.
When his grandson fell ill, his wife and son wanted to consult the village’s witch doctor. But he was vehemently against it and threatened to cut off ties with them if they did so. “I had prayed for healing for both my daughter-in-law and grandson so that people would also believe in God but God has chosen to take them away.”
Nonetheless, Yang chose to remain faithful. He believes God has a purpose in what He does. “Christ gave His life for me, what is this little amount of suffering compared to His?” said Yang.
“There is indeed nothing permanent on earth, everything is transient. Only our heavenly hope is eternal and that is what I long for. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1: 21),” said Yang.
Prayer is the Key
Yang is supporting six other members in his family – parents, wife, parents-in-law, son and granddaughter. He serves full-time in church and has no other sources of income other than his odd job assignments, which pay him 100-150 RMB a day.
Due to his commitment as a preacher, he does not intend to take up any full- time job unless there is a special need. He had worked and borrowed money from relatives for his daughter-in-law and grandson’s medical treatment so he is still in the midst of repaying those loans. “My son who is still devastated by the loss of his wife and son is not able to hold a stable job at the moment. But I believe God will provide for us. Through it all, I can testify that God’s grace has never left us. He listens to our prayers. He is the mainstay of our lives,” shared Yang, whose anchor verse is Romans 5:3-5.
Yang’s Anchor Verse
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
With Prayers, We Can Build a Church
Despite his tribulations in life, Yang is committed in his ministry: He preaches every Sunday and leads prayer meetings twice a week, apart from doing home visitations.
There are currently about 80 Miao believers in his church, up from just a handful a while back, and they used to gather at a believer’s house. In July 2016, the new church building would be ready.
Yang was instrumental in spearheading the construction of his church building. He led his church members to give generously by setting an example. Church members, moved by his example, took turns and contributed a total of 700 man-hours to build the church. It became one of the few churches to be built so quickly (within a year) — a miracle in an area that is mostly populated by impoverished farmers.
“The completion of the church building is only possible through prayers. God showed us that what seemed impossible, is possible with Him.”
Preacher Yang, who has been serving in his church for 8 years now, is currently one of UBS’s sponsored needy preachers. In 2014, he received some pastoral training at a county level training centre set up by Guizhou CC/ TSPM. Pray for him, his family and ministry.
Story: Cynthia Oh
Edited: Angela Teo
Photo: Cynthia Oh/UBS CP
2017 © United Bible Societies China Partnership