The darker the night, the brighter the light: 3 stories of radical love from China
In the face of COVID-19, we have seen and heard of many moving stories of radical love, especially within the Christian community in China.
Some have fasted and prayed for days, others have taken the risk to stand on the streets to share the gospel message. Various churches in China have been gathering large amounts of surgical masks, disinfectants and food to distribute to the local administrative offices, community groups and passers-by.
Those who were from the farming regions in Shandong and Yunnan province even willingly donated a majority of their harvest to the people of Wuhan. People travelled to the villages and stocked up groceries for the elderly in the rural areas to alleviate their difficulties during the lockdown.
As I read these stories, I was reminded of the early Church in the book of Acts.
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need.” (Acts 4:44-45)
While the actual context of this verse is not exactly the same as the situation now, it paints a picture of radical generosity, self-sacrifice, and concern for others over ourselves.
The darker the night, the brighter the light. Here are three stories that exemplify just that.
1. THE COUPLE WHO DONATED THEIR WEDDING FUNDS TO FRONTLINE EFFORTS INSTEAD
On February 8, Shu Lan Hospital in the city of Yuyao received a donation of 500,000 China yuan (approximately SGD$99,537). Along with the donation came a request that the money was for Dr Li Lanjuan and her emergency medical team, who had been dispatched to Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University to aid the frontline battle against COVID-19.
What was shocking was that this amount of money was actually a young couple’s wedding fund.
Brother Xiao En and Sister Si Si (not their real names) hail from the city of Yuyao in Ningbo. The couple had originally intended to hold their wedding ceremony in March at a hotel in Yuyao. However, due to the unexpected turn of events, their plans were quickly thrown into disarray.
As they watched the news about Dr Li being sent into the epicentre of the coronavirus, Si Si was moved. She remarked to her fiancé, “She is in her 70s, yet she is still toiling day and night on the frontline. Look at all these healthcare workers putting their lives on the line.
“All over the country people are concerned about their lives. What is our wedding compared to this? A wedding ceremony feels too frivolous at this time.”
Convicted by their aligned beliefs, the couple came to an agreement to give the money for their wedding to a greater purpose. While their parents were initially reluctant as they were both the only child in their families, their parents were later convinced by their determination.
With their parents’ blessing, they called off the wedding ceremony and donated their wedding fund.
“We’re told that the funds have been used for treatment of the COVID-19 patients. Our entire family is just glad that in our lifetime we managed to make this meaningful decision.
“We’ve also discussed that when this is all over and the weather is good, we’ll just hold a simple outdoor ceremony on a grass patch at Siming Mountain.”
Their pastor who was slated to officiate their wedding shared, “This is a very meaningful and wise decision for them as a couple. They will receive the blessings of many from the public, and nobody can be more pleased with them than God.”
Dr Li Lanjuan, who later learnt of the couple’s story, also expressed her gratitude and well-wishes towards them.
2. THE STRANGER WHO TOOK IN A CHILD WHOSE PARENTS WERE INFECTED
January 30. On his way back to Qingdao from Chengdu, Tang Jian received a message from his church circle requesting for prayer: A couple had tested positive for COVID-19 and they were being isolated for treatment.
Their relatives had been barred from entering the province due to fears of infection and spreading. As a result, the couple’s 5-year-old son Dou Dou was left all alone.
“Jesus said that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind … and he also told us to love our neighbours as ourselves. And right here in front of me, is a neighbour in need. Isn’t it straightforward what I should do?”
While he did not know them personally, Tang Jian felt compelled to do something. He relayed a message to Dou Dou’s parents expressing his willingness to take care of their child at this time. The couple agreed, and after assessments by the hospital and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Dou Dou was brought to Tang Jian’s home by the authorities.
“If I told you that I wasn’t worried at all, that’d be a lie. If I said I wasn’t afraid of dying, that’s even bigger a lie. The old me will never do something so radical … but Jesus taught me that I shouldn’t withhold good from those who need it when it is in my power to act.”
Understandably so, Tang Jian’s decision was not welcomed by his neighbours. After learning that he had brought home someone who had been in close contact with confirmed cases, they sent him a barrage of complaints to express their unhappiness.
Faced with this tension, Tang Jian posted a letter of apology in his estate’s group chat. In it, he also assured them that this decision was only made with the approval of the CDC, and that his house had been thoroughly equipped under the instructions of the CDC to ensure the wellbeing and safety of his neighbours.
“The old me will never do something so radical … but Jesus taught me that I shouldn’t withhold good from those who need it when it is in my power to act.”
Dou Dou’s mother has been extremely thankful towards Tang Jian for his sacrificial and courageous love towards her son as their family goes through this difficult time.
“We communicate through video call every day, and I’ve to say Brother Tang takes even better care of my kid than I myself do!”
Unfortunately, Dou Dou later exhibited symptoms and was confirmed to have the COVID-19 infection. His mother, while feeling guilty for possibly passing the infection to her son, also felt immeasurably apologetic towards Tang Jian and his possibility of being infected by the virus.
But Tang Jian’s composure was calm.
“I don’t regret anything. Decisions that have made been made for God and led by God contain God’s goodness. If God doesn’t allow it, nothing will happen to me. If God allows it, I will accept His will.”
After going through nucleic acid testing thrice while on quarantine, Tang Jian was eventually tested negative and was discharged.
3. THE BRAVE BROTHERS MAKING DELIVERIES AT THE FRONTLINES
Ever since the city of Wuhan went under lockdown on January 23, the number of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 has been increasing daily.
Many residents who carry the virus are forced to self-isolate at home due to the shortage of beds in hospitals and the absence of public transport services.
A group of believers from various churches in Wuhan saw the cries for help around them as the population was confronted by the fragility of life. But they also saw how emergency medical supplies were donated to Wuhan from all over the world, such as surgical masks, medications, protective suits, ECMO machines.
However, the various healthcare organisations and authorities already had their hands full with the battle on the frontline. The city going under lockdown also meant that they could no longer get external manpower.
As a result, the distribution of the supplies became a problem. There was a substantial amount of medical supplies, but there was no one to distribute them. So, as the believers in Wuhan gathered together online to pray daily, they asked God to use them to solve this problem for their city.
Since January 25, which was also the first day of Chinese New Year, a group of brothers decided to step out in faith.
In their own vehicle, they travelled out to distribute the medical supplies to various hospitals. They also volunteered with Shanghai Yuanli Foundation to deliver oxygen machines to those who were isolated at home and had severe breathing difficulties, sometimes even making deliveries past midnight in order to save lives.
While people were retreating from the city centre, these men braved the heavy snow to continue delivering supplies to homes. It was indeed a beautiful sight. To them, they weren’t just delivering supplies. They were also delivering life.
A beneficiary of their bold act had written back to them saying, “This is the first time in this season my family has received such a kind act from an outsider. For the first time, we see hope. Thank you!”
These stories were originally featured on 黑门’s official WeChat account.
THINK + TALK
- Have you withheld help to someone in need out of fear? How can you work towards overcoming that?
- What are some of the needs around you that you can meet? Who are your “neighbours” in this time?
- What can we learn from the early Church on loving and giving to one another radically?