SHANDONG, China – Lay Preacher, Mr Li Guoqiang, 34, travels to the various rural churches and meeting places in Liaocheng, Shandong Province weekly to teach and share God’s Word tirelessly.
“I recently read in the letter to Philemon where Paul said he was imprisoned for the gospel’s sake as an old man. It is also my hope that despite all challenges, I can serve God wholeheartedly until I am old. This is the greatest blessing.” The soft-spoken Mr Li shared with a blush of happiness on his face. “The greatest drive and motivation for me comes from God’s Word.”
Mr Li grew up as a Christian and became enthusiastic about volunteering in the church after he graduated from high school. “At one point, I was serving desperately for people’s approval. I felt good hearing people say ‘this young man is on fire for God’. But I knew in my heart that I had not walked closely with the Lord. I got farther and farther away from God as I served.”
It was then at the middle of a church service that Mr Li “felt God’s compelling love filling my heart suddenly. While I was praying, I was reminded of my first love for God. I’ve been such a sinner yet God chose to have mercy and grace upon me.”
This awakening love prompted him to study at a seminary to equip himself and continue his ministry.
As a lay preacher, Mr Li knew he would have no regular source of income, and he was at a season of his life taking on more responsibilities, caring for his wife, children, and ageing parents. But God’s love convinced him about his calling and commitment. Upon his graduation from Shandong Theological Seminary in 2020, he received financial assistance from Shandong Christian Council/ Three Self Patriotic Movement with the support of the United Bible Societies.
“The financial support came at the right time for me. I graduated from the Seminary when the Covid-19 pandemic hit China very hard. In-person meetings were cancelled, and my income from itinerant preaching was completely stopped. At the same time, my son was about to start primary school. Hence, the financial blessing was a real encouragement, and even more so a gracious assurance from God as I embarked on my ministry journey.” Li is also thankful that he has the support of his wife who takes up a part-time job to help supplement the family income.
Despite his personal needs, Mr Li used part of the support to organize a fellowship for a group of young lay preachers. They meet monthly to study the Bible, share experiences and challenges in ministry, encourage and strengthen one another.
As Li perseveres, his prayer requests are to have more Bible resources to better equip himself and other preachers, and God’s provision of mentors for his spiritual growth.
Mr Li is one of the many lay preachers in China’s churches. Many of them serve Christian believers in rural or economically disadvantaged areas who are hungry for God’s Word. When it comes to ministry, all of them face challenges financially. Please join us in supporting them with your prayers and financial means.
Story: Marcus Xiao
Photos: Provided by Li Guoqiang
2022© UBS China Partnership