High in the mountain valleys of the northern provinces of China, over 400km from Beijing, five villages are home to a group of Christians who have not owned a Bible in more than 60 years.
Pastor William heard about the believers and was concerned about the possible influence of heretical cults which abound in the area and which might have misled the people of God.
With the support of his church, Pastor William set out to visit them, taking some simplified Chinese Bibles and additional resources supplied through VOM’s Bibles and Literature fund, including William McDonald’s Bible Believer’s Commentary, Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie and VOM’s book Extreme Devotion.
When he arrived, the believers warmly welcomed Pastor William. He spent three days with them as they shared about their faith and the history of their church.
Over 90 years ago, a group of US missionaries came to this mountain area and shared the Gospel with the people. They taught the new believers, baptised them, and helped them build a meeting place. Almost all of the villages in the area became Christian through the missionaries’ bold witness of the Gospel.
Then, in the 1950s, when the Communist Party came to power in China, all foreign missionaries were expelled and even some of their Chinese co-workers were imprisoned because of their association with the Christians.
A decree was issued forbidding the believers to practise their faith or even read the Bible. All their Bibles and Christian books were confiscated and burned and their church buildings were pulled down.
All they had left were hymns and Christian songs they had memorised.
These hymns and Gospel songs brought them encouragement and enabled them to endure difficulties for over 60 years. The songs became their companion as they laboured in the fields, singing boldly while they worked. They were careful to teach the songs to their children, and in this way the Christian faith that lived in their hearts was passed on from generation to generation.
Pastor William was concerned whether their doctrine was sound and if they understood the biblical basis of salvation.
“I asked them, ‘How do you know the creation of God without reading the book of Genesis?” he said. “They eagerly told me that they would sing, ‘This is my Father’s World.’ When I heard this, I exclaimed, ‘Wow!’
“Then I asked them, ‘Do you know we are all sinners?’ And they sang, ‘All have sinned, you are in, I am in. Jesus came to save the sinners.’ I continued, ‘What about the judgement?’ They boldly sang, ‘One door, and only one. And yet its sides are two, inside and outside, on which side are you?’
“I found this amazing. One after the other they confirmed their faith from the memory of their hymns that were passed down from generation to generation. Although they had no Bible or any Christian books, they had kept hold of biblical truths through the memory of around 30 songs they had inherited from their fathers. These hymns gave them the Gospel truth clearly and simply and taught them truths about the holy and merciful God, the judgement of the throne, the sinful nature of all mankind and the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross.”
In some measure, the fact that they lived so far from large towns had protected them. They had tried to contact Christians outside their valley to assist them, but the only church they could find belonged to the official Three Self Church Movement. The church leaders refused to help because the villagers were too poor to be able to pay the expense of a pastor to visit them. They even refused to give them Bibles.
Nevertheless, the believers were not disheartened, but encouraged each other, “We must hold on to the faith and continue to press on. We believe God’s love will never fail us.”
Two years ago, some house church members met with them and brought the news to the outside. In March 2016, Pastor William and his church elders prayed for them, enabling his visit in April.
There are about 1200 Christians living in these five villages and Pastor William asked us to help by supplying them with Bibles. His church is planning training courses for their elders to help them to understand more about the Bible. The believers are extremely excited to know that someone cares for them and will supply them with Bibles and the teaching of God’s Word.
VOM Australia is committed to supplying God’s Word to these villages. As winter approaches, our goal is to also provide warm blankets to these believers living in poverty. We pray that you will be able to partner with us to fund Blankets of Hope with Bibles to these faithful villagers.