Mayflower members receive donations from local churches during Christmas
(Photo: Xiurong Chen)
(Jeju Island, South Korea—May 2, 2022) Many of the men of the Mayflower Church have updated ChinaAid on the struggles of adapting to life outside of China. Recently, however, several women sent updates regarding their journey in a foreign country. The first update by Xiurong Chen celebrates how Mayflower members gathered during their “Christmas Thanksgiving” last year. Jingjing Chen, a mother, wrote the second update, recalling how the initial living situation was challenging for everyone.
Christmas Day, December 25, 2021, is also the day that God has given us all kinds of grace for thanksgiving, gatherings, and dinners since our church came to Jeju Island for refuge two years ago.
Today happened to be a Saturday, and I told the children that there would be gifts at 10:00 a.m., a party at 3:00 p.m., and a dinner in the evening, so it would be a very busy and joyful day. So, the kids woke up early and rushed to do their homework before they had breakfast.
The kids were happy, and I was looking forward to the day’s program as much as they were. Although this was not the first time I received gifts or had a meal, I had indescribable, joyful anticipation in my heart. I enjoyed our time together, the atmosphere, and the feeling of being on earth as if I were in heaven.
I arrived at the church before 10:00, and there were pastors and six lovely girls from the schoolhouse serving inside. The girls were organizing and preparing things in the church, waiting for everyone to come and receive their gifts. I like to take pictures of them, so I arrived early. I wanted to leave them serving, and I felt that every shot left God’s blessing to us.
|Xiurong Chen’s children with Pastor Pan, ready to serve|
(Photo: Xiurong Chen)
At 10:00, brothers and sisters arrived at the church one by one. There was a big pile of clothes, both new and old, which were gifts of love from other churches, and we didn’t mind them at all.
The children were also happy to receive various delicious gifts from other churches. Some of the churches were very concerned about us when they heard about our arrival in Korea, and since we have been here, our church has not been lacking and God has been gracious to us through different channels.
In the afternoon, each family shared something they were thankful for during our meeting, and I took videos and pictures of them as they shared. There were tears, laughter, repentance, and thanksgiving. It was rich, like a beautiful flower made up of petals, with a strange fragrance that is memorable.
When it was our turn, I was very grateful and excited. I thought of my two adopted children: my daughter Wonderful and my son Chine. During the hardest time, I complained that God had given me such a big burden, saying that I only wanted two children, but He gave me four. Others said that I was so poor that I could not feed four children.
After I came to the Shenzhen Holy Reformed, the pastor loved children very much and often encouraged brothers and sisters to have many children. Especially when my children were able to attend school and learn God’s word from a young age. I deeply realized that this is not our burden as a couple, but God’s work. He wants to use us as a couple to help our two children build their own lives.
I have experienced a lot during these years of hardship with my children, and I have learned very deeply that people really have no goodness in themselves, but if you concentrate on praying and asking the God of love, you will slowly gain the power of love. I used to think I was a very gentle and loving person, but now I feel very ashamed that I can have a little bit of love because of God. Whenever I read about goodness because of God, I am deeply moved.
I am also thankful that we are still free to worship God and study God’s word here in Korea. I think of my brothers and sisters in China, although it is Christmas, they cannot meet as in previous years because of the Chinese boycott and the epidemic. After we left China, the persecution grew, many churches could not meet, schools were dispersed, and even on Sundays churches could not meet normally. Just in the past two days, several groups of brothers and sisters in my WeChat group have been dispersed, all because of the persecution. I am sad for the situation of brothers and sisters in China; I also thank the Lord for leading us out, if we had not left China, the schoolhouse might have been gone, and the children would not have been able to study God’s word anymore.
I am also very thankful that our family has not stopped family worship during these two years, and we have been reading the Bible and praying together every day.
When I was in Shenzhen, my husband worked late at work, and although we had family worship, I mostly took the kids, but now in Korea, we get off work around 5 pm and we spend the evenings together as a family, which is the most beautiful time to be together as a family. Although it’s harder to work over here, it’s much better than before, and my Lord is thankful to treat our family.
When we came to Korea, our youngest son was only two and a half years old, the two girls were four and a half years old, and our oldest son was over seven years old. After we arrived in Korea in October 2019, there was an epidemic outbreak in China that affected the whole world, and Korea was also affected. During the Chinese New Year in 2020, we stayed home during the school holidays, and the children were not allowed to go to school, so we started to take the children to read the Bible, especially the two girls, and thought it was the best way to recognize words. We didn’t have any special way to teach our children, but we just wanted them to read the Bible well and remember God’s word so that it would be a blessing to them throughout their lives. Reading the Bible with our children was a little difficult at first, but they were very obedient. I thank the Lord that the children learned quickly and were able to read on their own. On January 1, 2020, all of us at church started to read the Bible together.
|Xiurong Chen’s family reading the Bible together|
(Photo: Xiurong Chen)
I thank my Lord for letting us live in His will and plan, and we enjoy the joy and blessings in it. There is always no end of gratitude to share because every day is full of the Lord’s grace and nothing but gratitude!
Xiurong Chen of Mayflower Church
April 23, 2022
The Gust of Wind When My Mayflower Set Sail
In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
On October 22, 2019, my family of four arrived in Jeju Island, South Korea, where I was unfamiliar. I never thought I would go abroad before because I always thought it would be good to live in China where I was born, and how could I live in a country where I don’t know the language? So, I never thought of going abroad, and I did not get a passport.
With the increasing persecution of faith in China, my children could not receive a Christian education. I did not want my children to be educated by the Chinese Communist Party. We did not have freedom of faith either. So, in September 2019, my family got passports. We left our country to escape persecution, for my children, and for us to have freedom of faith.
When we came to Korea without a place to live, we lived with the Luo Guangying sisters, who arrived in Jeju two weeks before us. Where we lived was found for us by a brother who had lived in Korea for many years. That landlord only gave us a place to stay until the end of October.
It is hard for me to forget that night of October 31, 2019. That night the landlord asked us to move out of the house we were living in immediately, but we didn’t know where to go. We could not find a house.
The other brothers and sisters lived far away from us, and many people were living there too. Sister Luo Guangying was still pregnant at that time, seven months along with twins, dragging her luggage with her. I was holding an eight-month-old child who could not walk yet and carrying a five-year-old child from my family, dragging my luggage.
One of our husbands went to look for a house, and the other went to look for a car. We are two sisters with a few children walking on the road without any idea where to go. We did not know where we would sleep that night until we found a bus stop bench. I said, “There is no place to live, this bus stop may allow us to spend the night.” Although it could not block the wind, it kept us dry.
It was late at night, and finally, there was a place to stay. My family lived with two other families, a two-room house with three families living in it. And Luo Guangying went to live in Pastor Pan’s house. At that time, six families were living in Pastor Pan’s house, because they had just arrived and had no place to live, so they had to squeeze in together.
Later, some brothers and sisters came. We could not find a house at once because of the language barrier and our unfamiliarity with Korea. We only found three houses, all with two bedrooms and one bathroom, and a dozen of our families lived in these three houses. We all ate at the same table.
Later, when all the brothers and sisters found houses and lived separately, they slowly began to live normally.
“The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:38)
Our Mayflower predecessors 400 years ago drifted without determination. That wind blew them off course but blew them into God’s intended destination. And my church and my home set sail, and we became heavenly travelers.
Jingjing Chen of Mayflower Church
April 26, 2022