ANHUI, China - “I taught those who knew no Chinese characters at all how to write from dots and strokes, starting from scratch. After about two months, they gradually made progress and are now able to write,” so shared Mr Fang Xiangen, 58, a teacher of the Scripture Literacy Class at a church in Anqing City, Anhui Province.
"What's also rewarding [for me] to see is how their lives have changed significantly," Fang added as he continued to talk about the benefits of the Scripture Literacy Class organised by the Anhui Christian Council with the support of the United Bible Societies (UBS).
After attending the Scripture Literacy Class, participants are not only able to read and write better, they are also more familiar with the Bible, according to Fang. "During church services or Bible studies, they can turn to the related Bible passages and follow along," commented Fang, who is also a lay preacher at his church.
"Some of them rarely attended church services before, not even on Sundays, but now they are faithfully coming and actively serving in the church..."
Being drawn closer to God's Word has, in turn, made participants in the Scripture Literacy Class become more committed to their Christian faith. "Some of them rarely attended church services before, not even on Sundays,” Fang recalled, then adding, “but now they are faithfully coming and actively serving in the church and happily taking on ministry tasks assigned to them.”
Serving as a teacher in the Scripture Literacy Class allows Fang to witness many lives being transformed as they come to know Christ and His Word better.
Reflecting on his own faith journey, Fang said, "I became a Christian because of the positive changes in my wife." He chuckled as he reminisced about the days of his marriage with a then “hot-tempered wife”: "There were many times we fought and the household was turned upside down. I remember more than a few occasions when she cut my clothes into pieces with scissors out of anger."
In 1995, when his wife came to faith in Christ, "her whole person was completely changed." She became much more gentle and respectful, and would discuss with Fang when issues came up in the family. Surprised by his wife's drastic changes, Fang developed an interest in her new-found faith. He began to attend church services with his wife, learn about the Christian faith, and finally became a Christian himself.
Having experienced the power of God’s Word, Fang takes his role as a Scripture Literacy teacher seriously. "I always prepare thoroughly before I go to the class," said Fang, who is also working as a mechanical inspector in a motor vehicle plant currently.
When talking about his patience in teaching and instructing the students, and taking them through the Chinese characters over and over, Fang responded unassumingly, "God has called me to this task and made me a patient man to see to it being done!"
Outside of the classroom, Fang also encourages his students to dive more into God’s Word on their own: "I told them that anytime they need help or don't understand something, they can call me or send written or audio messages to me."
Summing up the positive effects of the Scripture Literacy Class, Fang noted that believers have experienced great blessings: “As we continue this class, it will definitely bring more benefits to all participating in it, bringing about a deeper understanding of the Scriptures and an increased involvement in church.”
Photos: UBS China Partnership
2023@UBS China Partnership