YUNNAN, China – Small and petite 77-year-old Li Yuying lives alone in a village in Wuding county, about a two-hour drive from Kunming. Uneducated and illiterate, she survives by planting corn and peanuts and rearing some domestic animals.
Like many other elderly adults in the rural areas, Li’s four children have left the village to seek employment in the city and subsequently settled there. That makes her one of China’s 50 million left-behind elderly people, most of whom are left to fend for themselves without much support and care.
However, all these did not stop Li from caring about the Kingdom of God.
Every morning, Li wakes up at dawn, while it is still dark. She would walk to a nearby hill and climb up there to pray. There she would watch the hours with God for the church, for the village, for the believers till dawn breaks. She shared, “It may be dark but I am not afraid. I can sense God’s presence strongly.”
There she intercedes on her knees for the faith of the believers, pleads for the salvation of her non-believing neighbours, asks for protection for those who have gone to seek for work in the cities.
And she’s been keeping this ritual for the past 40 years, since she came to know the Lord, along with fasting one or two days a week.
Sometimes Li would see her perseverance pay off. For example, she has witnessed the growth of her church. Forty years ago, there were only 20 people in the gathering. Today there are about 350 believers.
Sometimes, God gives surprises. Her granddaughter who has just graduated from Nanjing Union Theological Seminary is now serving the Lord full time at Fuyuan county, Yunnan Province.
However, sometimes God seems silent. Her four children who have settled in the city have since stopped attending church. Her firstborn son who used to serve as a church elder before moving to the city to seek employment is a nominal believer today.
Yet, Li is still on the hill every morning, faithfully keeping her watch with God while most of us are still asleep.
What keeps her going back to the hill to pray? “The account of Noah’s ark,” replied Li with tears welling up in her eyes. “Only eight survived the flood. I grieve for those who do not believe in the Lord, those who perish without Him, and so I pray and intercede.”
Such is the fervor of elderly believers like Li. May we be stirred in our hearts to also pray for our local churches, our families and our neighbours.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess. 5:16-18
Story: UBS CP
Photos: UBS CP
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