Chapter 6: Turbulent Life during Eight Years of World War II
Isiah 30:20 And though the Lord has given you The bread of adversity and the water of oppression, Your Teacher will no longer hide…
Psalms 31:7 I will exult and rejoice in Your lovingkindness, Since You have seen my affliction; You know the distress of my soul.
In 1937, I graduated from normal school, this year is the first year of the start of the second Sino-Japanese war. In these eight years, the entire country is turbulent, my life and work are all extremely unstable. The first year after graduating from normal school, I got recommended to Xiyuan elementary in Fuxing county. This school was established by overseas Chinese, there’s not many students, but the quality of teaching is not bad. I handled second grade language, fourth grade math and six grade history classes. The students like my teaching quite much.
In the second year, due to the war and all the regions near the sea is unsafe, my father told me to go look for work in Lianchen, west Fujian. So I left my home town and went to Lianchen County to serve as principal of Zhongxing school. In Lianchen, I met Brother Xihui Shi of Fuzhou. He worked as the station manager of the telegraph station, meeting for the first time in a foreign land made us very close. He was in the Lord for longer than me, older in age, and spiritually better than me, I received a lot of help from him there. (This year he is 93 years old, is the oldest elder in the church in Fuzhou.) At the time in Liznchen county, all the governmental institutions have many believers that came together to meet by themselves, the meeting place is right in my school. One Lord’s day, Brother Shi arranged me to speak. I search for many bible verses, prepare to speak of 2 Peter chapter 1, about how we need faith after virtuous conduct, how after having virtuous conduct, we needed to have knowledge…. But once I stepped up to the podium, I got very nervous and cannot speak what I’ve prepared, and so nervous that sweat a lot, and completely defeated in preaching. In the end, still needed Brother Shi to supplement. That’s my experience of first time preaching.
After over half a year, the provincial government was open for student applications, in Sha County, for “wartime people’s teacher classes” with the qualification of college graduates. Though I never went to college, I went to apply, and got accepted in third place. After training for a month, I was sent to Ningde County as the school principal and teacher in wartime people’s school of the county. Not long after training finishes, I was transferred to Defense Training School in Sha County as teacher. At that time, I was very young, only twenty-two years old.
When I was acting as teacher in Sha Country’s Defense Training School, the work is very light. At the time there was a group of high schoolers and normal school students from all over this province receiving training, to get ready to be assigned to every county to teach the populace. This time, a world shaking incident happened, in September 1, 1939 Germany’s army invaded Poland, starting World War II. Then I explained to students, interpreted the world’s situation back then to them, and they liked it very much.
In the winter of 1939, I was transferred to very remote Zhouning County to be populace educator, later the school inspector. As school inspector in Zhouning County, I often went down to the rural areas to inspect and administrate to the schools. Once, I arrived at a little village named “Weichun”, and met two British sisters. They’re not old, in their thirties. In the evening, they preached the gospel in the village, though their Chinese is not fluent, and can only use pictures in the Bible stories to tell people about Jesus. Though their preaching is not powerful, but the fact that they would come from UK to such remote place to preach the gospel, this spirit touched me. These couple of years, roads in eastern Fujian have not been built, so from Fuxing to counties like Ningde, and Zhouning takes several hundred kilometers that can only be done by walking. I got transferred over and over, these long journeys going back and forth, my life was extremely unstable, it was very harsh.
In April of 1941, I really wanted to go to college and gain more knowledge, so I made the decision to quit and went home. Unpexectedly, one month of being at home, Fuxing County seat was lost. My home county of Yuxi and the county seat was only twenty kilometers away, and the Japanese army can harass at any time. So I can do nothing but say goodbye to my family members and make the trek to Yongan County. For this journey, there is Shuezai Bao and Ronger Lin these two sisters from Gutian County. They originally had come to Yuxi County to work for the Lord, right at the time when Fuzhou was occupied by the Japanese army, cannot go home, so stayed at my home for a while. Later the two of them got word that Sister Bao’s younger brother and mother were both in Yongan, so they decided to go there. I went with those two. The night before the journey, father brought several of us to Dongji village near the mountain to stay a night at his friend’s place. The morning after, we say bye to father, and head southeast within the thick fog. On the first day we only managed to get to Hanjiang town of Putian County; the second day we got to Huating town in Putian County and stayed in the home of a Brother Qou; on the end of the third day we finally got to the county seat of Xianyou. The fourth day just so happens to be Lord’s day, we joined the local Lord’s table meeting. At the time, the church in Xianyou has a lot of believers, the spiritual situation is not bad. In the Lord’s table meeting, everyone picked a hymn “Himself He could not save, He on the cross must die”, (hymn 105) Especially the fourth stanza:
Himself He could not save,
What wondrous love is this!
In love Himself He gave,
There ne’er was love like His!
Such love should melt a heart of stone,
Till praise flows forth to Him alone!
When the meeting was still going on, the church’s local responsible brother gave me a letter. I opened it up, is from father back home. One part in the letter says this:
“That morning, when you carried a luggage and said goodbye to me, my vision followed your silhouette until disappearing in the thick fog, my heart is broken, tears streamed out. Is not that I am cruel and rather not you be at home and stay with the family more, is the cruel war that forced you to leave home. My son, my heart thought that if you be willing, you can come home. Hard times, let us spend it together! So that you don’t have to wonder out alone….”
This letter touched me so much! I teared up as I read, almost cried out. This is the one time of my life when I’ve felt my father’s love the deepest. After that I thought, since I’ve already left, I should not backtrack. Thus, I decided to continue going forward. After two more days of trekking, the few of us ride a car from Dehua County seat on the shaky road to Yongan County. The two sisters lived in Brother Yowei Bao’s house, and I stayed in the meeting hall of the church in Yongan County seat.
At the time, Yongan County serves as Fujian’s wartime temporary provincial seat, so Fujian’s provincial government is currently here. Not long after I went from Yongan County to come to Qinliu County, to rely on a relative who was the county mayor of Qinliu County. A cousin of my is the wife of the county mayor. My uncle serves as secretary in the county government. The both of them are believers of the Lord. Another one of my lady cousin, Ende Wu, who worked at the county sanitation department as a midwifery nurse, she’s a good sister that loved the Lord. She often accompanied me to a believer’s home for meetings, and teach the local saints to sing hymns together. I also often got invited to the local Lord’s Table meeting to speak. Now my speaking got much better than before.
Not long after, Fujian province started a normal college in order to nurture the teaching quality of the average schools. The Lord lead me to enter this school and studied for 3 years. The first year of this school, it’s located in Yongan County, but moved to Nanping County in the second year. During the one year in Yongan County, I never stopped going to the Lord’s day meeting in town. My school is 15 Chinese miles from the city, every time I went to meeting, it takes a total of 30 Chinese miles, and there is a crossing in the middle, but I don’t feel that this is hard. This goes to show that time, I started to have pursing and admiration for the Lord.
In this first year, Brother Jiedun Weng once came to my school to preach the gospel, I coordinated with him, invited many classmates to listen to him. Two of my closest classmates in the school, Xiaduan Zhou of Changding and Chengqi Gao of Pingtan, all received the Lord during this time. Brother Jiedun Weng consecrated himself very early to do the Lord’s work, cared deeply of people’s souls, and has talent for preaching the gospel. In his early days, he had been to Baiyatan, and know Sister Margaret E. Barber. In 1941, he served the Lord in the meeting hall of Nanping.
During the first winter break, I passed by Nanping on my way back home from Yongan County, spend the night in the meeting hall. That evening, Brother Weng was teaching the saints to sing hymn 437:
- Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand own Him;
Joyful choose the better part.
(Chorus) Captivated by His beauty,
Worthy tribute haste to bring;
Let His peerless worth constrain thee,
Crown Him now unrivaled King.
- Idols once they won thee, charmed thee,
Lovely things of time and sense;
Gilded thus does sin disarm thee,
Honeyed lest thou turn thee thence.
This hymn really thouched my heart, made me deeply touched!
The next day, Brother Jiedun Weng also took me to Nanping prison, and preach the gospel to the prisoners. I saw many filthy convicts in the prison, in a really pitiful situation. Brother Weng spoke the majority of the time, and asked me to speak a little. The symopsis of what I said is: “You might have sinned, but is still beloved in God’s eyes, because your souls are precious. If you are willing to confess and repent to the Lord, believe into Him as Lord, He will save you from perdition and into eternal life.” This is the only time in my life, openly preaching to the convicts in jail.
In the summer of 1942, Fujian Normal School moved from Yongan County to Nanping. My school is only six to seven li from town, so I went to town every Lord’s day to meet. Sometimes I even coordinate to be translator. In the school, Brother Yifan Tang is lecturer, Brother Zhengguang Zheng works in school administration, there’s a meeting once every week in my school. In the third year, Brother Yifan Tang invited Brother Chenjun Wang of Fuzhou, to speak three nights of messages in the school’s chapel. Before he spoke, it was up to me to lead the singing, his speaking is very dynamic. Chenjun Wang is a co-worker that is the same generation as Zai Wang and Watchman Nee, is a very well-known brother in the Church. I can never imagined that he would come here to speak.
In the third year of my education, I had reached the next milestone in pursuing the Lord, spiritual life was also better than during the past few years of turbulent times.
In July 1944, I graduated from Fujian Normal School and returned to Fuxing County, getting the job of language teacher in Mingyishuzhen High School. This school is managed by the Methodist Church, with a good historical foundation. Everyone has to attend chapel every morning in this school, I started preaching the gospel there, and brought some students to believe in the Lord. I worked at this school for two years, and the students have a decent impression of me, they liked my teaching. Outside of class, I often played ball with students, and lead them to participate in competitions, teacher-student get along quite well. In the second semester of 1946, I went back to Yuxi village to establish a “Wuyang Middle School” with a Mr. Zheng that becomes its school principal. I served as the dean of administration, and continued to preach the gospel to the students as before, and coordinated with the local brothers for church service. But at the time, I just have a heart to love the Lord, my spiritual life and understanding of the truth are still pretty shallow, not rich enough.