In China, it is the tradition for people to hang banners on both sides of their doors at Spring Festival. The banners are usually red – a colour thought to bring good fortune – are covered with so-called ‘lucky’ words like ‘prosperity’, ‘wealth’, and ‘good health’. Some Chinese Christians are using this tradition as a very visible way of proclaiming their faith. Their banners would read “Everlasting love of God”; ” Jesus’ love endures forever” etc.
Duan Xuezhi and his wife, Xu Qiuju, both in their 80s, proudly display their Christian banners on their very humble home in a small rural village in Henan Province. Their decorations, like those outside other Christian homes in the village, display a cross and Bible verses.
“We have been Christians for 40 years,” smiles Mr Duan, who used to love reading his Bible before his failing eyesight stopped him. He could only read at a basic level but his wife never learnt to read.
Struggle to make ends meet
The couple are frail, only able to walk with sticks, and clearly struggle to make ends meet. Their home is dark and very basic and they have a small vegetable patch and a single chicken who occasionally lays an egg. They lost their only son some years back and have no family members who take care of them.
But the church has become their family, giving them help, love and support, and Mr Duan says that their faith is as strong as ever.
“God has given me many miracles in my life,” says Mr Duan. “I spend a lot of time praying and God speaks to me very personally. I’ve heard very clearly from God that he is going to bring me home to him when I am 90 years old.”
Declare her love
Zhang Ai Ju, 44, also hangs Christian spring decorations outside her home to declare her love for Jesus. She became a Christian 13 years ago and has been leading the church choir ever since.
“I love singing hymns and choruses because I feel happy and uplifted when I do so,” she says. “In fact, just being at church, hearing the sermon and the singing and praying makes me feel so happy. To me, church is like a big, happy family.
“I got my first Bible 10 years ago and I read it often, both at church and at home on my own. My favourite part of the Bible is Psalms, and particularly Psalm 23.”
By Andrea Rhodes