Interview with a Wenzhou Pastor – A Very Modest Life for a Better Marriage
Editor’s note: China Partnership has launched a new chapter of its prayer initiative. Over the year we are praying for the church in a new city each month - providing videos, interviews, and prayer requests directly from the churches with whom we work. We hope this helps you better understand the needs of the Chinese church and commit more fervently to stand in prayer with our brothers and sisters.
This month we continue the project with Wenzhou. We’re excited to bring you this interview with a Chinese pastor in the city! We hope you will check out the Wenzhou page for additional content and to sign up to partner with us in prayer.
CP: How would you describe Wenzhou as a city?
Pastor: Wenzhou is a very unique city in China with rich Christian tradition. It has also undergone tremendous economic development since the Chinese Economic Reform, and therefore is heavily secularized.
CP: In such a city, how would you describe the people around you, or those whom you minister to?
Pastor: I mainly minister to the middle class in the city.
CP: What is their lifestyle and mentality like?
Pastor: They work from nine to five and have two-day weekends. Most of them have received higher education and are considered intellectuals.
CP: What are the challenges for you to share the gospel with them?
Pastor: The biggest challenge is the hindrance of religious tradition, the other is the impacts of secularization.
CP: What do you mean by "the hindrance of religious tradition?"
Pastor: Because Wenzhou is a city with rich Christian traditions, most residents have more or less heard of the Christian faith; yet, because of secularization in such cities, they are not passionate or serious about their faith. On the other hand, many grow up in traditional Christian families as Christians but without the substance of Christian faith.
CP: How about economically, like pursuit of material wealth and materials?
Pastor: The first hint is in marriage, which is extremely secularized in Wenzhou. For example, the bridegroom has to own a home, a vehicle, work at a decent job with a high income.
CP: Have you found a way to introduce the gospel into their thinking?
Pastor: The most direct way is to tell them how Jesus lived and how he would look at these issues, so that they can come to realize that even in such a vulnerable and empty situation, we can still live a different life.
CP: You are challenging their mindset. Can you share some recent testimonies of conversion at your church?
Pastor: One sister was recently baptized and joined the church. She was from a family that had never heard the gospel before, but she came and accepted it. One critical part of her experience that brought on her transformation was that at our church there is a group of people who pursue things totally differently from the rest of the world, which had a big spiritual impact on her. In that process we shared Jesus Christ and the gospel with them, which overturned their values and worldviews. While the values she established from her childhood were being deconstructed, she came to believe that there could be another way of living and pursuing [life].
CP: Has she mentioned the one thing or value that touched her the most?
Pastor: That is marriage. Her mother always asked her to marry someone with money, fame, power, and influence. Yet when she came to our church, we told her an ideal spouse would be someone who loves God and loves others. This was inconceivable for her. During this process she really saw what we believers pursued. We have been transformed and renewed by the gospel. This had a great impact on her and she started to be transformed gradually.
CP: Did she accept your challenge at the beginning?
Pastor: No, she didn’t.
CP: Why was she resistant at the beginning?
Pastor: She thought we were being old-fashioned.
CP: She was touched by the testimonies of the brothers and sisters. What did she witness?
Pastor: She saw that the brothers and sisters at our church would give up great jobs that paid well and live a very modest life for a better marriage. That is totally different from the dominant view of marriage in our city.