SHAANXI, China – As a child, Liu Yunguang went to church with his grandmother and learned to sing the hymns and read the Bible. But when he grew up and went to school, he gradually walked away from the Christian faith.
The turning point came when Liu was in his twenties. His father fell ill. While caring for his father, he saw other patients who were "still around yesterday but gone by the next." Later, his father passed away too.
"Life is so fragile. I feel the need to do something meaningful,” Liu shared. He subsequently quit his job and committed himself to study at Shaanxi Bible School in 2018.
Books Expand My Horizon and Strengthen My Faith
At the Bible School, Liu began to gain a deeper understanding of the Christian faith and developed his relationship with God. As a person who enjoys reading and reflecting, the school library was one of his favorite haunts on campus. Reading increased his knowledge, broadened his horizons and, most importantly, it strengthened his conviction in the Christian faith.
As a student of the Word of God, Liu, now 35, expressed his gratitude for the resources on biblical studies and exegesis he found in the library and which were supported by the United Bible Societies (UBS).
"These resources are of great help to my understanding of the biblical contexts, and the interpretation and understanding of the Scriptures."
He explained that books help expand his horizons and change his mindset about ministry. "In some ways, we are often stuck in the past, whether it's old ways of thinking or ineffective solutions. Some of these authors help to shed light on the biblical passages and enlighten us."
For instance, Liu admitted that he used to have a black-and-white mentality about people and ministry. “Gradually, I learn that some believers have experienced setbacks in their lives and become weak in their faith. These believers are in need of help and support but, unfortunately, they are sometimes criticised and judged by others.”
Now Liu, who serves amongst more elderly believers, began to see and practise ministry differently, including learning from his earlier experiences of walking away from God and how he could help others who face the same challenges according to what the Bible teaches.
"My newly acquired perspective enables me to gain a deeper understanding of struggling Christians, to have greater empathy for them, and to offer more support."
Books Inspire Me
Besides helping him in his ministry, Liu also shared that the resources at the library inspired him personally. He recalled reading stories of Christian scientists throughout history who endured hardships and even persecution. “Some of them gave their lives in defence of their faith. They have greatly strengthened my own faith and are still an inspiration to me.”
After Liu graduated from Bible School, he started serving in the church where he is the only full-time preacher. There are many challenges he faces, not least the financial stress. “Due to my limited salary, I am unable to purchase biblical resources to help in my ministry.” But he recalled he was blessed with a lot of helpful resources back at his Bible school which has helped him build a sound foundation for his faith and ministry.
The biblical resources sponsored by UBS have proven helpful to Liu and other preachers. We hope that such resources will equip more people like Liu with knowledge, truth, and spiritual insight to serve believers in China more effectively.
Story: Marcus Xiao
Photos: Liu Yunguang
2023@UBS China Partnership