Rural conversion stories

Mrs Kang, 63 years old factory owner and Party member

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

I decided that I needed to become a Christian when I was away on holiday. It seems strange but I had been thinking about it for a long time. This was partly because I knew a local minister and had been impressed by his work, but I could never actually make that step to becoming a Christian myself. It still seemed to me to be a step backwards.

When I was away on holiday, the tour guide said that we all needed God in our lives. He was a Muslim but, the minute that he said those words, I was utterly convicted that I needed to go back home and go to the church that I had vaguely been interested in. It was the beginning of my holiday and it was an amazing thing to be away and abroad, but it was all I could do to stay there and not go home. The nice hotel, the magnificent sights, they all seemed so meaningless even though I knew I was in a beautiful place.

When I did finally get home, I went straight to see the minister to tell him what had happened and to say that I wanted to become a Christian. He was supportive, but said that I needed to go to a class to learn more before he would let me get baptised. I was mad. I thought he was doing it because I was a Party member and in the past we had disagreed about certain things.

I knew that I wanted to be a Christian and did not understand why I could not sit down with someone and learn what I needed to learn quickly. Now I know that this is what all new Christians have to do, and that it is good to take time to consider what we are doing. But at the time I felt as though I had already wasted too much time in my life and I just wanted to get on with it. I attended the class and a few months later I was baptised.

Things have changed since becoming a Christian. I feel a renewed and somewhat different responsibility towards my family and to my friends, but mostly to my workforce. It is easy to find workers now because so many people are looking for work. There is no need to provide many benefits because people will take what they are given Ė they are just so desperate for work. But I feel that as a Christian that is not enough. I need to provide for my workers and need to look after their families. There is too much divorce and too many children being brought up in broken families. We will have trouble in the future if this continues.

I have built new apartments for my workers. I want people to know that this factory is the best factory to work for. That it is successful in the way most people see success, that is that it is making good money, but that people want to work there because it is a place where people care. Quality products and quality workers, that is what I now want our factory to be known for.

In return for the better living conditions I expect people to give something in return. I do not want people to be drinking or to be gambling for example. Too many families are wrecked by these things. So if people want to work at my factory and live in the new apartment blocks then they need to know that there are rules that they must keep to.

I try and keep families together by offering men and women work. Many places will only offer the men work, but I want women to be able to use their skills too. God created us all equal. Families can live together and the apartments share cooking areas so that it is possible to have a real family life. It is not like it used to be in the old dormitories.

Some people have become Christian since working here and so they are able to go to church on a Sunday. Since becoming a Christian my temper has improved and I am proud that my company continues to do well despite fierce competition. This is one of many of Godís blessings.

How are you involved in the Church?

I lead a small group Bible study. There are now about 15 members and most, like me, are Party members who have recently found faith. Some people do not trust us, thinking that we are not proper Christians or are wary. So it is easier that we meet together so we can be open with one another and accountable to one another in front of God. It means that we can be really honest with one another. We understand the pressures we are under and we can encourage one another to share the Gospel with as many people as we can. I think that God is making so many Party members Christian so that we can influence a new generation of people.

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

People want to see peopleís actions and their words match. The Church shows this and so people are interested. That was what happened to me. The minister was good and upright and, although I sometimes disagreed with him, I knew that he was hardworking and honest and that he persevered when others would give up. Some people can seem like that when you meet them for the first time, but it is not possible to keep that up over a number of years. Many Christians show people what Godís love can do and this makes people want to join the church.

What changes have there been local society in recent years?

There is less respect for people than there used to be. Many people waste money and many people spend time thinking about how they can make more money. Finding work is hard and finding good employees who will be loyal, and will work for a long time with you, is also hard. These things used to be guaranteed by the State Ė not now.

Everything is unstable but there are blessings too. There are more choices and more things to buy, and people have access to education much more so than in the past. Things are hard for young women now. The traditional values are still expected but then there are other expectations in this new world also. I am glad I have a son and not a daughter. I would worry too much if I had a daughter.

Has this affected peopleís beliefs?

In some ways. Actually many people are still very traditional in their beliefs. There are lots of superstitions and people like things to be done as they have always been done. People think they are modern but actually they are not. The old beliefs are still very strong. That is why so many people go to temples now. They donít go because they believe but because it is a cultural thing to do, it reinforces their 'Chinese-ness'.

It used to be that people would say "One more Christian, one less Chinese" because Christianity was seen to be a foreign religion, but that is rarely the case now. Many people see the contribution that Christians are making to society, and see that the churches are run by the Chinese themselves, and they realise that it is a religion which suits our culture and encourages a good, healthy way of life. In that way people are much more open to hearing and living the Christian message.


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