Joy of Teaching the Elderly

Niu Cuihua (right) and her assistant outside their church in a rural area in Shandong province.

SHANDONG, China – Every Saturday afternoon for two hours, Niu Cuihua, 60, would be found in church conducting Scripture Literacy class, sponsored by UBS, for rural adult and elderly believers.

“This is more than just a literacy class. We don’t only learn new words; we also learn to love and serve one another,” shared Niu.

About 50 adults aged between 50-80 attend Niu’s class every Saturday. Each one is given a free Bible and Scripture literacy booklets from UBS.

“Some of them are liu shou lao ren (literally translated as ‘left-behind elderly’, which refers to seniors who remain by themselves in their villages or hometowns after their grown-up children have moved to work in the cities).”

According to official statistics, there are some 50 million of these left-behind elderly people in China. Sadly, most of them are left to fend for themselves, some living alone, without much support and care.

That is where Niu believes her missions lies.

She tries to create a loving and supportive environment where the elderly can come and be cared for while they learn to read God’s word.

Indeed, Niu conducts her literacy class like a mini-church service. Assisted by another believer, they start with worship followed by sharing of a devotion from the Bible, reading and learning new words from the Bible and then prayer time for one another. “It’s like a fellowship group.”

How is it like to teach the elderly? “We are all created differently with different personalities. And there will be some difficulties. For example, some elderly may not be too concerned about their personal hygiene. That’s where I’ll pray for more of God’s love in me, to love them regardless of how unkempt they may be!”

“But I can see the leading and blessing of the Holy Spirit as well. They will come whether rain or shine! We are able to build good and harmonious relationships amongst ourselves. Praise God!”

Niu who is also a colon cancer survivor knows about the importance of harmonious relationships.

Niu with the Bibles and materials supported by UBS.

“I was drawn to the church in 2008 when my daughter’s marriage was on the rocks. We attended a Christmas service and received Christ as the Lord touched us with His love.”

Niu also recognised that it was the Lord who has healed her in 2005 of her cancer, before she came to know Him.

“Had I not become a Christian, I would be living in fear of death even though the cancer is in remission now. But because of Christ, I’ve no fear of the unknown. As the Bible says in 1 Thess. 5:16-18, ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…’”

Let’s pray for Niu Cuihua and her class, that they will continue to find joy in learning to read the Word of God and in one another’s loving presence.

Story: Cynthia Oh
Edit: Angela Teo
Photos: Yeo Tan Tan
2019 © United Bible Societies China Partnership