|Sister Chen Xiurong and her family
(Photo: Chen Xiurong)
Where my church is, my home is
Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
When I opened my notebook, I saw notes from my last Sunday in Shenzhen. I wrote the note on September 22, 2019, and if I remember correctly, this was the last sermon from Pastor Pan at our church in China. After that, he went out with some brothers in our church because the house churches were constrained everywhere. The situation was tense. Our church often found itself in this tense atmosphere. We had to find a way out, and no one knew where to go or how God would lead, but we still believed God would lead us.
It was such an agonizing time for me. I was looking forward to it but scared. I didn’t know what was ahead of me, but I had a feeling that something was going to happen, and I was telling myself that I needed to be ready for it.
In September, God led my family, my sister, and me to get our passports done. I was so anxious, I had never had such anxiety before, and I felt that something was pushing me. This feeling made me think that something was going to happen.
When the pastor and his team went out to find a way out, my heart went out with them. I nervously waited for their news each day. Everyone was wondering where the heck we were going to go. Where can we be free to worship God? Where can we go and no longer be persecuted, afraid of the police coming to our door? And not have to worry about our children not going to school?
Once they went out, they recognized our crisis more strongly outside the walls. They went to several places and finally determined that we were going to Jeju Island. The Presbyterian Church understood that many of our families would face difficulties. It would be impossible for us to go to those big countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia with our passports. We thanked the Lord for giving the Presbyterian Church wisdom, giving us a place to go. And we thank Him for making Jeju Island our escape city, considering that it is a democratic country with a visa on arrival.
The Presbyterian Church called us to come to Jeju, and each family was free to choose to go or stay. At that time, my heart was both happy and scared. We had never been abroad before. I worried for two of my children, Qimiao and Qian. They were adopted by us. I didn’t know if we could take them out. If we couldn’t, we couldn’t leave them behind. For the sake of our faith and the sake of our children, we wanted to leave China. I often worried about this matter, I couldn’t sleep well during that period, I didn’t want to eat during the day, and I became more anxious suddenly. However, I thought of my Lord’s path and how He has predestined us to take it, so He will surely guide us. He will help us, just like He led our family to the Shenzhen Holy Reformed two years ago.
At that time, we were confused and helpless because we were not provided for in the Three-Self, the economy was not good, our children were growing up, and we were worried about school. When we prayed for God’s help, God didn’t leave us alone, and soon I met a sister who took me to see Pastor Pan. When we first met, Pastor Pan held my adopted daughter and said, “Don’t worry, this child is not our burden! She’s God’s blessing to us!” I was in tears, and my heart was deeply comforted!
(Photo: Chen Xiurong)
Because the children at Shenzhen Holy Reformed can study the Bible and grow in mind, body, and spirit, we as a couple are slowly being edified in the truth. Our family can meet here together and praise the Lord together, and we have started to have family worship, and we are learning to teach our children the truth in this church.
Thinking about where to find such a good church? Where is there such a good pastor? Even though God brought us to this church, this church is our home, a home given to us by God. If the church wants to move away, our family is willing to follow it. Wherever the Church of the Holy Spirit is, our family will be there.
Thinking about this gave me the strength and hope that gave us the courage to take that step, and since the Lord was going to help our family, we didn’t have to be afraid anymore. After we made up our minds, we hurriedly took care of our family affairs, went back to our hometown to see our closest relatives, said a silent goodbye in our hearts, and then set out on the road to leave the country. I know that this is not something we can do on our own, but the Holy Spirit is urging us to do so, and God has given us the courage, boldness, and faith to take the first step.
May I and my family serve the LORD! To be able to glorify God and delight in Him all the days of our lives, forever and ever. Amen!
Sister Chen Xiurong of Mayflower
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