SHANDONG, CHINA — 30 years ago, Li Shujuan now 50, received a strange request from a lady in her village. She was asked to teach hymns at a church gathering. This was an odd request as Li was not a believer and considered herself an atheist. What makes this story interesting was that Li agreed to do so.
There were about 50 believers attending the gathering, and most of them were illiterate. Li taught them to sing hymns. After a while, she was even asked to preach. When she saw how fervent these brothers and sisters were, she found herself moved to the point of buying herself a Bible and listening to sermons on an overseas Christian broadcasting nightly.
Curious to know more, Li went to Jinan to attend a one-year Bible training course. “That was a time when I spent a lot of time to be close to God. My mind was constantly thinking of Him, and I read the Bible every morning and night.”
Finding Comfort in a Time of Struggle
Not long after Li became a Christian, she was diagnosed with stomach ailments. She had no energy to work in the fields, nor to eat. Life seemed hopeless. Her two sons were still in primary school, and money was running short. Li felt as though death seemed better than life. In desperation, she cried out to God for help.
“God comforted me through the Bible: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” she said. (Hebrews 11:1)
Li’s stomach pains persisted for another eight years, but God’s promise made her firm in her faith. Every day, she insisted on writing verses from scripture on a piece of paper to take with her when working in the fields. Whenever she was in pain, she knelt and prayed, reading the scriptures from the paper scraps she had brought along.
She said: “Without God, there would be no hope to live on earth.”
Li likes to read the Bible; and the Word of God has brought her many blessings. When she read that the name of Abraham meant a ‘father of nations’, and Sarah’s name was a ‘mother of nations’, even though they had no children at the time, it inspired her to pray for the salvation of her family.
“Thank God, my husband and second son gave their lives to him,” she said.
“When our church was built in 2011, I had no money to give, so I could only offer a little. But what I could offer is my time and physical labour,” Li recalled.
Money was even tighter than before. Li even had to take on loans in order to prepare for the year’s Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). As she was reading her Bible, the Word of God strengthened her:
“The silver is mine and the gold is mine.” (Haggai 2:8) “I am poor in material, but I am rich in spirit. Because the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want,” Li said gratefully.
Today, Li is the leader of a church in a county of Jining city in the province of Shandong.
Story: Lydia Zhang, Matthew Loh and Jenise Lee
Photos: UBS CP
2020 © United Bible Societies China Partnership