The Chang Family's Godly Heritage
Chang Zihua in the 1930s.
The Chang family of Qingdao in eastern Shandong have a rich Christian heritage, which stretches back nearly a century, and continued to the present day.
Their story began in the 1920s when Mrs. Chang Aizhu was unable to have a child, which was considered a deep disgrace in Chinese society at the time. Doctors could not help her, so one day in her desperation she visited a church in Qingdao where she spoke with a pastor named Tang. She begged him, "Please help me! I want to have a child! We have tried for many years but I cannot conceive." Tang replied, "There's nothing I can do to help you, nor can any other person. There is only One who can intervene in your situation and grant you the desire of your heart—the Lord Jesus Christ. The childless woman immediately replied, "Please introduce me to this Jesus."
Around that same time, one of the first Korean missionaries to China, Pang Zhiyi, came to Qingdao and proclaimed the gospel. Mrs. Chang believed the message and was saved. Her husband, Chang Zihua, was a hard-hearted man who wanted nothing to do with the 'western religion'.
After Mrs. Chang cried out to the Lord in prayer, He opened her womb and she conceived. She visited the doctor who had told her she could never have a baby, and shared the exciting news with him. "You're crazy!" he exclaimed, "This bump in your stomach isn't a baby. It's just a tumor!" She returned home disappointed.
Three months passed, and Mrs. Chang felt the baby move inside. She was certain of the pregnancy and returned to the doctor. He checked again and was shocked to discover she was indeed carrying a baby!
Seven months into the pregnancy, complications set in and the hospital told Chang Zihua that they needed to perform an emergency operation, and that either the mother or her baby would survive, but not both. He chose to save his wife, and the surgery proceeded. After Mrs. Chang's life was spared, however, her husband was astonished to hear the sounds of a crying baby coming from the operating theater! Miraculously, both mother and baby had survived. Chang Zihua knew the hand of the Living God was involved. He knelt down on the floor, repented of his sins, and gave his life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Changs named their special son Enhui (signifying grace from the Lord). Born in 1927, the boy grew up at a difficult time in China's history, with war, famine, and other disasters afflicting the lives of millions in Shandong. During those dark days, however, the Lord didn't forget the Chang family.
After giving birth to her miracle son in 1927, Mrs. Chang was told by her doctor to prepare for an early death, due to the toll the delivery had taken on her body. The woman of God, however, once again cried out to the Lord Jesus, begging Him to give her ten more years to raise her son. She often prayed from Psalm 90: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Chang Zihua was a wealthy businessman, having made a fortune running a dye business for a British company. One day one of the British owners visited the Changs' home. Mrs. Chang, who had matured into a strong and committed disciple of Christ, fervently prayed in her room while her husband met with the foreign guest in the living room. The man was shocked when he overheard Mrs. Chang's prayers, and asked his host, "I didn't know your wife had learned to speak English! Where did she learn? I've never heard such perfect English spoken anywhere in China before." God had apparently performed another miracle, for Mrs. Chang had never studied a word of English.
When God Was Challenged
Meanwhile, Chang Zihua matured into a God-fearing man. He shared the gospel with his employees and friends, but was often met with resistance and ridicule. Once, a man mocked his faith and told him it was foolish to believe in an invisible God. For weeks the weather had been heavily overcast and rainy, and he challenged Chang to prove his God was real. "Pray to your God and ask Him to make the sun shine through," the man demanded. "If it happens I will believe in Him too."
Chang was perplexed by this unexpected challenge. Not wanting to put God to the test or disgrace His Name in front of unbelievers, he asked God to reveal His will on the matter. After a time of fervent prayer, Chang was convinced that the Holy Spirit had revealed God's will to him, and he told the man, "Tomorrow at noon the Lord Jesus Christ will cause the sun to shine and you will know that He is the True God."
News of the unique showdown quickly spread throughout the local community, as the rain continued to lash down that day and throughout the night.
The next morning dawned with torrential rain still pouring down from the sky. Dark clouds completely filled the horizon. Many unbelievers in the neighborhood gathered to see what the Christian would do when his faith was shown to be fraudulent. At eleven o'clock the Changs looked out their window to see the countryside still being saturated by a downpour. At 11:30 nothing had changed, nor at five minutes before noon. It had rained continually for days.
A large grandfather clock stood against the wall in the Chang home. At 11:59 a.m. there was still no sign of the sun. The man who had issued the challenge stood poised, ready to mock. Just before noon the clock began to chime. "Dong.... dong.... dong...."
At the very moment of the last chime, at precisely 12 o'clock, the sky suddenly split open and rays of bright sunshine burst through the clouds illuminating the drenched community. The locals were astonished, and acknowledged the Christian God was the One True God. A new respect was given the Chang family, and their faith was admired.
Mrs. Chang continued to be a vibrant witness for the kingdom of God. She often visited the slums in Qingdao, which were packed with refugees who had fled there to escape the ravages of war, flood and famine.
One day, while ministering in one of the unhygienic squatter camps, Mrs. Chang contracted tuberculosis, from which she didn't recover. She had asked God to extend her life by ten years after giving birth to Chang Enhui in 1927, and she died in 1937, just after her son turned ten.
Thousands of impoverished slum-dwellers attended the funeral, having been touched by Mrs. Chang's love and grace. For many years she had displayed the glory of God in her life and lived up to her given name, Aizhu, which means 'beloved of God'.
Chang Enhui —A Witness to the People's Army
After the death of his wife, Chang Zihua remarried, but his second union did not carry the same measure of God's blessing as the first. He was unable to cope with raising Enhui, so the boy, who had given his life to Jesus at the age of 11, was sent to live in the Jesus Family compound at Mazhuang. He remained there for two years under the godly tutelage of the founder of the community, Jing Dianying, and the other leaders of the group.
Chang Enhui grew up and became a highly-respected surgeon in the Chinese army. He never forgot his Christian heritage, and continued to serve His Savior in the midst of the Communist army until his retirement in 1988. Enhui often prayed discreetly for his sick patients, even risking his life to share Christ during the harsh years of Mao's Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976.
Chang Enhui and his wife in 1988.
Chang Enhui became a key leader in the Shandong churches during this difficult period, tirelessly encouraging believers to follow God and not grow weary. He was greatly admired by all Christians. Not only did he have a tremendous testimony of God's provision and grace, but he was never too proud to publicly confess his personal weaknesses and sins, and to share how God had helped him overcome.
On one occasion he tried to share the gospel with an army captain who was close to dying of cancer. The captain protested, "Stop! I'm tired of your foolish talk! I am a member of the Communist Party and I cannot believe in religion!"
The army captain's wife was more open to the truth, however, and she told Enhui, "If your God heals my husband we will all become Christians."
Chang Enhui visited another town for a few days, and when he returned to the hospital he was dismayed to find the captain had died. The man of God was saddened that the opportunity to win the man to Christ had passed.
A few weeks later Chang Enhui was summoned to the home of the former army captain. When he arrived, Chang found the widow, her children, and their extended family waiting to see him. The widow explained,
"When my husband was about to die and was struggling to breathe, we were gathered around his bed preparing for his soul to depart this world. All of a sudden he sat upright, his eyes opened wide, and he declared, 'I saw heaven! It's real!' He then closed his eyes and passed away. We all want to believe in Jesus. Please tell us how!"1
Chang Enhui, who was miraculously spared by the Lord at his birth in 1927, lived a full life serving God in Shandong Province until his death in 2001, at the age of 74.
1. Personal communication with the Chang family, September 2016.
© This article is an extract from Paul Hattaway's book 'Shandong: The Revival Province'. You can order this or any of The China Chronicles books and e-books from our online bookstore.