Rural conversion stories

Mrs Liao, 47 year old and unemployed

When did you become a Christian and how did it happen?

I became a Christian 3 years ago. I wasnít looking to be a Christian. Far from it. I was quite happy going to the local temple, something I had done all my life. The church did not interest me at all.

My work unit closed down and I was sick. I had been diagnosed with cancer (of the lungs) and was having treatment through the factory clinic. It was after my factory closed down that I was told I would not be eligible for any more medical care. There was nothing I could do. I could not afford to continue treatment without a job and so went to the temple to ask for blessing and tried to rest as much as I could. I needed to look after my family and I was worried.

One of my neighbours was a Christian and she said she would pray for me. I wasnít sure what that meant but I was desperate for help and didnít mind where I got it from. I didnít believe much in what she was talking about but let her pray for me none the less. She and her friends at church prayed for me for a number of weeks and would often ask me to go to church with them, but I wouldnít. I was Ok about them praying for me, but going to the church myself was something else.

However, things did not get better and one day I decided that I would go to the church on my own. I am not sure why I decided to go, but when I got there I was touched to hear them praying for me. They had no idea that I was coming and yet I could hear strangers who I had never met praying for me to get better. They were so enthusiastic in their prayers that they were crying as they prayed for me. I sat there at the back of the church and listened. I was very moved but still did not understand much.

After that I went to church regularly, just to be with people. They made me feel welcome and they were so caring. After a while I let people pray for me and they would sometimes lay their hands on me, asking for healing for me.

One day when I was at home there was a knock at my door and my neighbour was there with some of the other women from church. They had some money for me to go and continue my treatment. I couldnít believe it. I went back to the hospital the next day and had another x-ray. The doctor looked at me strangely when I saw him and said that the old x-rays that I had brought with me and the new ones could not be the same lungs. The cancer had gone. I was healed.

I went back home and went straight to the church, and they said that Jesus healed me. I donít know why He chose me. I have no education, no job, nothing. But He did. I knew that they were right, that it was Him who healed me, and all the people at church told me it was because God loved me.

I became a Christian and have been a Christian for 3 years now, and I still cannot believe that it has happened. I still donít know why I was healed and why other people are not healed. I still donít have a job but now I spend my time at the church cooking for visitors, and that is wonderful. I know now that God provides for all my needs and so I donít need to find another job. I know that I was healed so that I could go on living. I can look after my family but I can also look after the wider, new family I have at the church, and am happy to serve God in the church in any way I can.

How are you involved in the church?

Very. I go to church every Sunday and cook for people after the service and whenever there are visitors to the church. I sometimes go to training programmes when there are speakers who come to give training programmes, and I go to Bible study. I enjoy singing and so go to singing practice also, although I am not in the choir. My new friends are in the church and I spend most of my time at the church with them when I donít have things to do at home.

What reasons do you think there are for the growth/decline?

Many people come to faith like me because they have been healed or because other people have been healed in their friends and family. This is the reason many people come to church.

What changes have there been in local society in recent years?

There have been many changes. Life is not so stable any more. Lots of people have left the village to work in the city. It is especially hard for women to find work now. There are not many jobs and if a company wants to employ someone then it is likely to take on a man. I know, I have tried, but now I am not looking, as I am happy working at the church as a volunteer. I donít have enough time to work now.

Some people are retired early, and for them it is easier because they are able to keep their old homes and their pension. People at my factory were not able to retain their homes. I am OK because we live in an apartment at my husband's work unit, but many people have had to find new places to live.

Has this affected peopleís beliefs?

Yes, it is hard to rely on the work unit to provide everything and so people try to work at a few jobs at a time to save money. Families have to split up so that one of them can get a good job and the other one try to keep accommodation, so there is some stability for the family.

There are a lot of new temples in the area now, and there are more and more people coming to the church also. We need to look for a new building as the church is too small for the entire congregation. It costs a lot of money to build a church though and getting permission for a new building is not easy either. But we will pray and, if it is Godís will, a new place will open up for us.

 

hand holding a Chinese Bible
© Churches Together in Britain and Ireland 2010