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Climbing many mountains to spread God’s word in China

Author: Simon Bartz, 4 January 2021

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The kind giving of Bible Society supporters enables Pu Zhidui to preach in many churches in the difficult terrain of Fugong county, western Yunnan province. Photos: Deborah Yuen

It’s not very often a preacher has to scale a cliff to get into his pulpit, but that is the kind of terrain that Pu Zhidui must overcome.

Pu oversees eight churches comprising 2,000 believers in total and getting to them in Nujiang Lisu prefecture is no mean feat. The prefecture, in western Yunnan province, is flanked by two 4,000-metre-high mountains with many peaks and rivers in between.

Mountain churches here are mostly located in remote areas, inaccessible by any form of transportation. Many of the lay preachers like 50-year-old Pu often go on foot for several hours, trekking narrow paths and crossing streams. At times, landslides and falling rocks mean they even have to scale cliffs.

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When a Bible Society team visited recently, Pu was waving his hands about as he preached passionately at Ou Lu Di Church, which is perched 1,900 metres above sea level in Nujiang Lisu’s Fugong county. He was drawing from John chapter 1. ‘Christ is our light of life. He has overcome the darkness,’ he exhorted.

Ou Lu Di is one of 360 churches in Fugong county and Pu preaches there once every few months. Fugong has 80,000 Christians but just 67 lay preachers, including Pu, and four pastors. That’s one leader per 1,000 Christians, but the believers aren’t all in the same place!

With an estimated 1 million new believers coming to faith each year in China, there is a severe shortage of preachers to help Christians become more engaged with the Scriptures. The generosity of people such as yourself doesn’t just enable the printing of millions of Bibles, but crucially also enables more and more pastors to be supported. Your kind giving also enables more church leadership training to take place and provides scholarships for young Bible students to follow in the footsteps of leaders such as Pu.

Pu said he still remembers reading the Bible by candlelight on his bed in the dormitory of Fugong Bible School. ‘I was reading through the entire Bible for the very first time and I was very moved by God’s word,’ recalled Pu, going back 20 years.

He told how his mother was healed of her long-term illness after coming to Christ, and that later his wife didn’t tell him she’d been hospitalised because she didn’t want him distracted from his studies.

‘I was hanging on to Matthew 6.33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” I just had to commit my family to the Lord,’ Pu, now a father, said.

Lay preacher Pu Zhidui pointing to another church,

two mountains away, which he is shepherding.

The Fugong area is one of China’s poorest with the people and the lay preachers mostly subsistence farmers, eking out a simple living by planting corn and potatoes. Due to the demands of church ministry, some devote themselves full-time to Bible mission, even though they are not financially supported by the church.

‘Seeing that I spend so much time in church, my non-Christian friends had actually asked me if I received any monetary support as a preacher!’ said Pu.

Thanks to the generosity of Bible Society supporters, more long-term plans are being drawn up to ensure that preachers like Pu receive vital support when they need it. Giving also provides church workers with quality Bible teaching tools, resources and training. 

Despite the rough terrain and financial issues, Pu is clear about his calling. ‘God loves us, I’ve seen his grace and goodness in my life and my family. Philippians 3.8 says it for me: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”’

Thank you for your continued support of Bible mission in China.

A version of this story first appeared in our Bible a Month prayer letter. You can change someone’s life for good every month by joining Bible a Month. Regular giving, of even just £10 a month, allows long-term plans to be made to ensure Bible mission has maximum impact in China and elsewhere. Join us and receive a bi-monthly prayer letter through the post full of inspiring stories of how your giving is transforming lives through the word of God.

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