Chinese Church Voices

The Life and Ministry of Shen Yiping

Blessed Are Those Who Die in the Lord

Chinese Church Voices is an occasional 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.

“One heart, one life, and every last cent for the Lord.” Such was the slogan of Shen Yiping, a founding elder of the China Gospel Fellowship house church network. Shen Yiping died on July 14, 2018.

This article from New Voice of Preachers recounts the life and ministry of Shen Yiping. Shen was at the forefront of much of the Chinese church’s explosive growth in Henan province in the 80s and 90s, yet his ministry also impacted the larger house church movement.

The author details important events of Shen’s life and ministry, but also raises the question of how a new generation of Christians must now pick up Shen and the older generation’s mantle.

Pastor Shen Yiping, Pioneering Founder of China Gospel Fellowship, Has Passed Away

Servant of the Lord: Shen Yiping

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Revelation 14:13

Once faithful to the Lord in his preaching efforts; he is now at peace in the Lord with his crowns of justice.

On July 14, 2018 at 3:50am, a pioneering founder of the China Gospel Fellowship of the Chinese house church—Pastor Shen Yiping—ceased from his labors, and now rests in the Lord in his heavenly home, having enjoyed 71 years of age!

Pastor Shen Yiping, a first generation elder of the China Gospel fellowship of the Chinese house church, has left us. On hearing the news, churches everywhere are deeply sorrowed and pained. Elder Shen had given his entire life for the Lord, traveling often, completely faithful in heart and in work. He is a spiritual model for countless younger Christians. He had no children of his own, and left no property of any kind behind, but he has countless spiritual children all over China as well as abroad. His pious heart is indeed an example for all God’s servants. 

A Servant of the Lord Who Walked with God

In 1988, Tanghe County house church established the China Gospel Fellowship, and Feng Jianguo served as the chief manager of the fellowship. Members included Xing Jinfu, Zhang Hengti, Shen Yiping, Lian Zhangnian, Shen Xianfeng, Wei Jindang, etc.

October 1990, Shen Yiping was jailed at Thirteen Li Bridge in Xinyang County.

Middle of April 1991, Shen Yiping was released from Xinyang County Detention Center.

During 1990-1993, for four years in a row, China Gospel Fellowship conducted spring and autumn semester trainings for church workers. Shen Yiping and others went to Xinyang, Tongbai, Xincai, Guangshan, Luoshan, and Queshan for church planting.

In 1993, China Gospel Fellowship built five missions. The main members were Xing Jinfu, Shen Yiping, Zhang Heng, Wei jindang, and Shen Xianfeng. They proposed a slogan of greatly spreading the gospel, and decided to found a fearless team. Their slogan was: “One heart, one life, and every last cent for the Lord.” The team was officially established the following year, and there were over 70 members in training. The training lasted 10 days. After that, they laid hands on the 70 members and sent them throughout the country to spread the gospel. In the autumn of the following year, they held a testimonial meeting in Xinyang County, and made some concluding observations about the mission.

On November 25, 1996, Shen Yiping, Shen Xianfeng, and other church workers met at Pingding Mountain in Henan Province, attending a meeting for the unification of denominations. They were outspoken in favor of unification.

On January 16, 1997, Shen Yiping and Brother Lian represented the China Gospel Fellowship in attending a vast unification meeting of church workers in Xiang County in Henan Province.

On February 20, 1997, Shen Yiping, Shen Xianfeng, Brother Lian, Brother Jing attended meetings in secret meeting places in Shizhai Village, Fangcheng County, for the unification of denominations.

On July 25, 1998, Shen Yiping and others held unification meetings in village house caves.

On November 26, 1998, Feng Jianguo, Shen Xianfeng, Zhang Heng, Shen Yiping attended unification meetings at Shunyi, Beijing. They shared the beliefs held by house churches, and drafted the Chinese house church confession of faith. Shen Yiping signed as representative of China Gospel Fellowship.

On August 23, 1999, Feng Jianguo, Shen Yiping, Brother Wang, Brother Jing, and others were attending a unification meeting in Tanghe County, when 36 of the attendees were arrested by Public Security Bureau officers. Shen, Wang, Jing, and Feng were sentenced to re-education through labor.

On April 16, 2002, 34 important church workers, including Shen Xianfeng, Shen Yiping, and 20 mission elders were tricked by Eastern Lightning. They were kidnapped and detained in Shanghai, Hubei, Hebei, Xi’an, and Dongbei. Eastern Lightning attempted to force them to abandon their earlier Christian faith, and to accept the cult teachings of Eastern Lightning. Aside from one person out of the 34 who accepted the cultic teachings of the Eastern Lightning, the rest of them held to their principles of faith, and suffered various temptations, threats, and beatings. After the involvement and investigations of the Public Security Bureau, Eastern Lightning members were forced to release the church workers of the China Gospel Fellowship.

From 2002 until now, Pastor Shen was faithful to the Lord, and has now been taken by the Lord.

Recounting Our Sorrows

The Bible says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Every departure of a servant of God is a release and freeing of that servant, a joy and a rest, because they are finally able to rest from the labors of this earth, and receive the fruit of their labors, accept the promise of the Lord Jesus, and rest in the arms of our Heavenly Father.

But for us, it is a loss, because while they were alive, they were our models, our encouragement, our wealth. When faced with their departure, we are extremely sorrowful, our tears fall, expressing our feelings of loss and our love so difficult to speak of.

Our spiritual forefathers—Wang Mingdao, Xie Moshan, Yuan Xiangchen, Yang Xinfei, Li Tianen, and others—have passed away one after another. Many of them had been in prison for over 20 years because of their faith, yet they did not regret the way they spent their youth. Even more moving is that, upon being released from jail, they were still on fire for the Lord even though they were no longer young. They planted churches everywhere, pastored believers, shone out in the world, and left behind a legacy of life, until they returned to their heavenly home, just as Moses was called by the Lord to many decades of faithful service until his moment of death.

Because of them, our generation of house churches has received the precious inheritance of the cross. They were the ones who showed us the hymn of “Faithful unto Death”—they are the pillars of the Chinese house church; they are our glory. We are thankful for them. At this moment, we remember the paths walked by those spiritual elders of the Chinese house church who have passed away. We remember and mourn them.

Carrying on the Gospel Mission

My dear family, as they pass away one by one, how are we, the younger generation, to respond? As they go to their rest, how are we to rise up? They inherited the gospel, which they defended and preached by their very lives. Now that their mission is finished, and they have returned home gloriously, who will take on their role? Who will carry the ark of the covenant in God’s house?

Beloved brothers and sisters, if a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it bears much fruit. Now that they are at rest, are we willing to be the new grains of wheat, taking up the mission of this era to save lost souls!

Dear family, are we willing?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

Brother Gan’en, July 15, 2018

Original article: 中国家庭教会︱中华福音团契开创先锋申义平牧师荣归天家 (New Voice of Preachers)

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