His house lies in ruins
In 2010, both Ma and Ren began their full time service at Hong’en Church (or Abundant Grace) of Shandong Province, China. Both women had found affinity in each other because of their similar experiences in encountering God. One day, at church, Ren noticed that the roof was leaking, and there were crack lines on the wall.
This reminded Ren of a verse: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?’ (Haggai 1:4 ESV)
On a separate occasion, Ren shared a testimony of how a lady partnered in the Lord’s work by offering a third of her property. The story left a deep impression on her daughter, who remarked: “If I had land, I would offer it to the Lord too.”
Ma used the opportune moment to share with Ren: “What your daughter just said is not coming from her, but from the Lord. Maybe that’s how God wants to use you.”
Convicted of giving to the Lord an offering, Ren decided to offer a piece of her own land to build a house for Him. With only 10,000 Yuan (less than 1,500 USD), Ma and Ren commenced work on the church building. With the little they had, they could not even hire enough workers. But, this was the least of the obstacles that lie ahead.
Unless the Lord builds
Real estate disputes plagued the construction progress. Tools and equipment were even seized from the work site. The project was impeded for as long as two months.
Church members became discouraged. Despite feeling downcast, Ma and Ren did not waver one bit. They were determined to complete the church building.
Each time construction had to stop, Ren would gather church members at her house to fast and pray. The group would sing hymns and read the Scriptures. The stories of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the city walls by Ezra and Nehemiah brought comfort and hope. The Lord reminded Ma: ‘Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?’ (Isaiah 2:22 ESV)
In the face of great opposition, the church members pressed on. Like the Jews under Nehemiah’s charge, some members worked; others kept watch for disruption; prayer warriors laid their hands on the bricks and cement columns, knelt and prayed at the work site.
‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.’ (Psalm 127:1 ESV). As the members continued to place their trust in Him, God assured them of His faithfulness, that the project He started would indeed be completed. Ren remembers one occasion when she spotted three rainbows in the skyline within the same day. It reminded her of the Noahic Covenant – His promises in preserving humanity and providence for the restraint of human evil and violence.
Not long after, the church building was completed and the congregation was able to worship at the new building.
Story: Nathaniel Xiao, Elaine Ho
Photo: Pamela Choo
2021 © United Bible Societies China Partnership