Chinese Church VoicesChurch History

House Church Leader Li Tian'en Dies in Shanghai

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.


On May 5, the mainland news site China Christian Daily reported on the death of Pastor Li Tian’en, one of China’s most famous house church leaders. Here is their article, in full.

Chinese House Church Leader Li Tian'en Dies in Shanghai

Image credit: China Christian Daily

One of the China's house church leaders, Li Tian'en who served the church for more than half a century, died on May 3 in Shanghai.  

As one of those who witnessed the history of the Chinese churches, Li was considered to be a Chinese house church patriarch, along with Wang Mingdao, Ni Tuosheng (or Watchman Nee), Yuan Xiangchen, Samuel Lamb, Xie Moshan, and Yang Xinfei.

Called by the Lord while he was a university student, Li Tian’en quit his studies and enrolled in a seminary in Kaifeng, Henan. Later he continued his theological education in Nanjing and Hangzhou. He served in local churches in Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shangzhou, and the northeastern area in China after his graduation in July, 1950.

He was imprisoned four times for the gospel during his lifetime, and spent more than a decade in prison. After his second arrest, during the Cultural Revolution in 1973, he was sentenced to death due to his evangelism. In addition, he faced execution by firing squad three times. However, the Almighty God miraculously saved him from "the lion's mouth." After the Cultural Revolution, he resumed his preaching and service in churches across the country.

Pastors and believers in Chinese house churches are mourning his death, remembering and giving thanks for his life, saying, "His whole life was a witness to Christ. He leaves for us a good example and a message on how to live. May the Lord comfort his family and comfort us as we continue to walk on the journey to heaven."

Recalling his service, a pastor of a Chinese house church referred to him as "the root of the church in Henan and the light of the church in Shanghai."

Meanwhile, some pastors have been sharing a few group photos of the Chinese house church pioneers, including Xie Moshan, Simon Zhao and Li Tian’en, saying, "Since these chariots and horsemen of the Chinese churches have been taken by the Lord one by one, will more people who have good faith arise? They were people who wanted no fame or wealth, the ones whom the world was not worthy of." 

Original article: Chinese House Church Leader Li Tianen Dies in Shanghai (China Christian Daily)
Adapted and reposted with permission. 

ChinaSource Team

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