GANSU, China - In 2000, Ms. Du Chunhua, then in her 40s, became one of the first baptised Christians in the newly established Kongtong Gospel Church, located in a region where folk beliefs and practices were strong. "Once the church was built and the cross erected, many people were drawn to Jesus," she recalls with great joy.
Shortly after, the church encouraged Du to start sharing God's Word in the rural areas and beyond. Having grown up in the bustling city of Lanzhou, Du initially faced challenges. When she began, Du suffered from frequent headaches. However, God gave her the strength to overcome these hardships. As she continued serving God and sharing the gospel, her health improved!
Over the years, she has been devoting herself to reading and studying God's Word and found great inspiration from it. One of her favourite verses is from Psalm 16:11, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (ESV).
Scripture Literacy Class: A New Fountain of Joy
In 2019, Du experienced a new blessing as she took on the role of a Scripture Literacy teacher at her church through which she can share her joy of reading God’s Word with others. She is delighted each time she hears believers learning to read Scriptures aloud in class. "I never missed a single class with them," she says with great enthusiasm.
According to Du, illiteracy adversely affects believers' faith. Due to their inability to read Scripture, some would listen to church sermons without sufficient understanding. Then they may in turn unwittingly share things inaccurately with others.
Illiteracy is still prevalent in the rural areas. An illiterate elderly Christian once shared about her struggle to distinguish between men's and women's restrooms. Seeing these needs, Du and her fellow church members became deeply concerned.
"In these rural areas, we see in the brothers- and sisters-in-Christ a hunger to learn," Du says. "We see their willingness to serve the church, but we also see that they can't read. So, I wanted to help them."
"In these rural areas, we see in the brothers- and sisters-in-Christ a hunger to learn," Du says. "We see their willingness to serve the church, but we also see that they can't read. So, I wanted to help them. We hope they can read and share the Word of God. We looked forward to witnessing their transformation!"
Diligent and Enthusiastic Students
God did not disappoint her as she soon tasted the joy that followed. The literacy class students showed great enthusiasm, with some even putting aside their farm work to attend the classes.
Two elderly believers, Chen Yuqin, 87, and Chen Yuzhen, 75, who are sisters, never missed a class. The 87-year-old told Du that in her excitement, she couldn't sleep the night she learnt to write! As they continued to learn, their love for reading the Bible grew. Their newfound skills allowed them to read the Bible more independently and even participate in small Bible reading groups, inspiring other believers.
Another student, 45-year-old Chen Caihong, was eager to join the church's literacy class despite facing health issues and opposition from her family. She did not give up but prayed hard to overcome the obstacles. She shared that reading the Bible is essential for a better understanding of God's word and for avoiding missteps in her spiritual journey.
A Vision for the Future
Du noted that through the literacy class, the believers have experienced spiritual growth and gained a deeper understanding of God’s Word. As they read the Bible with eagerness, their hearts are filled with gratitude. Attendance is good and more people have joined the class. Some have even started to serve in the church more actively.
Du appreciates the support from the United Bible Societies which enables her local church to make these literacy classes possible and she eagerly anticipates the day when everyone would be able to read the Bible for themselves. She hopes that more would join her to help believers become literate in reading the Bible and sharing in her joy!
Photo: Gansu Christian Council / TSPM
2023 © United Bible Societies China Partnership