COVID-19 vs the Church in China

You helped rescue preacher Mu's ministry to a Chinese ethnic minority group

Pu’er tea is rich and malty, harvested and then fermented for years before it ever makes it into a cup. A good tea collector knows that if you don’t like the flavor at first, you should give it a couple years and try it again; it ripens as it ages. The principles for growing and refining good pu’er are similar to those for good ministry: be attentive and patient and keep the faith.

Unassuming, thirty-three-year-old Preacher Mu embodies these principles as he ministers to an ethnic minority group* in the tea’s namesake city of Pu’er, China. Many Pu’er locals work the land—growing tea as well as coffee, rice, sugar cane, and lots of fruits. Predominantly Buddhist with influences from shamanism, the people group believe in many gods. With few Christians and fewer churches, many in the region do not know that Jesus died to save them. Preacher Mu hopes to change that.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic called Preacher Mu’s entire livelihood into question and called him to make a tough decision: would he preach the Good News or would he provide for his family?

Pastor Mu, his wife, his baby, and his parents, typically live on less than $3,000 a year. He’s not salaried by the churches where he preaches as it’s difficult for rural believers to financially support ministry staff. He deeply appreciated the small gifts some brothers and sisters from the church would give to support him, but he had to take up additional farm work—picking tea, mostly—to supplement his income.

COVID-19 hit the community hard—removing inhabitants’ opportunities to sell produce at local markets and forcing them to downsize their farms. With congregants struggling to make ends meet and churches closed, all donations to Preacher Mu from congregants stopped. He worried he’d be forced to abandon his ministry to move to the city to find work in order to provide for his wife and new baby.

Your support was an answer to Preacher Mu’s prayers. Thanks to you, Preacher Mu—and hundreds like him who serve ethnic minority groups across China—can continue sharing the Good News of the one true God. “I am thankful for your support, for now I can visit more brothers and sisters, and travel far to preach God’s Word,” says Preacher Mu. “This has strengthened my faith to know that God will always provide for me as I serve Him faithfully!”

Searching for ways to continue serving through this outbreak, Preacher Mu has been hosting a small biweekly Bible study (fewer than 10 people, per China’s gathering restrictions). “We realized that after three months without on-site church services, believers are really longing for a church meeting to hear the Word of God,” says Mu.

Although this has been a difficult season, Preacher Mu knows God will see him through, as He always has. Mu says, “Our relationship with God is very important, and it must be right. With that in proper order, even in the face of the challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and financial pressures in my life, I believe God will take care of me, and I don’t have to worry.”

Preacher Mu keeps his focus now on the words of Christ in Matthew 9:37 that promise the spiritual harvest is plentiful. With him, we look forward to the day when many Chinese believers will stand before Christ’s throne thanks to Preacher Mu’s faithful service and your faithful giving.

*Name retracted for sensitivity purposes.

Please pray with us for the church in China to endure through these difficult times. Ask God to sustain pastors like Preacher Mu as they share the Good News.

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