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Madam Tang’s biblical bucket list

Author: Simon Bartz, 4 April 2023

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Madam Tang knows she’s heading to heaven, but hopes to read the entire Bible before she gets there. Literacy classes supported by Bible Society are making that possible. Photo credit: UBS-CP

Have you drawn up a bucket list of things you would like to tick off as completed before you go to meet Jesus?

Madam Tang Cuirong did, and topping the 76-year-old’s list was to ‘read through the entire Bible on my own before I go to my heavenly home’.

That’s a challenge for any one of us. Even more so for Madam Tang. She was illiterate. She could only hear God’s word being read out by others, since she had never attended school and was unable to read or write.

So when a Scripture Literacy class funded by Bible Society supporters started up at her local church in May last year, Madam Tang was the first to sign up.

After just a few lessons, Madam Tang was able to write her own name, as well as some Chinese characters she learned from Scripture Literacy booklets used in class, which Bible Society supporters helped provide.

In the class, she liked how the teacher always began the lesson by praising God and also prayed for the class and the day’s topic.

Madam Tang had one complaint, though. She enjoyed the lessons so much, she didn’t want to leave the classroom. ‘I wish the lessons were longer!’ she says.


She’d always been a joyful lady, wearing a permanent smile. Thirty years ago, she lost her ability to walk. But then, one day, she was miraculously able to walk again. She thanked God that she was healed and it brought her even closer to her saviour.

She opened up her home to other believers in a village in Zhenjiang and, at one point, more than 70 to 80 people would gather. And every Sunday for 30 years she has made a two-hour bus journey to her church.

Whenever she rides the bus, she now takes along hymnals to read. Gearing up, you could say, to read a book from cover to cover, and tick off the number one item on her bucket list.

This is an adaptation of a story originally published by United Bible Societies - China Partnership. 

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