Wang Baogui (dressed in white) with his Bible students.
Despite all the trials the foreign missionaries endured in the early years, the Holy Spirit had continued to work behind the scenes, illuminating the hearts of those who sought the truth. Slowly, one brick at a time, a holy building of Chinese believers began to emerge throughout Shandong, becoming the foundation stones of a strong Church in later decades. One early Chinese pillar of the Church was Wang Baogui, who was born at Fusan, near Yantai, in 1826.
Wang came from a family of scholars with high academic attainments. After studying the teaching of Confucius and the Chinese classics for 12 years, Wang became a zealous advocate of ancestral worship.
One day he met a Chinese preacher, who was also named Wang. The two men enjoyed each other's company and became close friends. After many months of declining his invitations, Wang Baogui finally decided to visit the chapel with his friend. He was given a New Testament, and began to earnestly study it as soon as he reached home.
At times, deep anguish filled Wang Baogui's heart as he thought about the complete rejection he would receive from his family and community if he accepted Christ. As he continued to study God's Word and seek the truth, however, a firm conviction
"took hold of his mind that he was a wretched sinner, and there was no hope for him but to accept free salvation through Jesus Christ. As soon as he was persuaded of this, he yielded his whole heart to Jesus, made a public profession of faith, and received baptism. From that day onward his faith never wavered, and he loyally and faithfully strove to follow in his Savior's footsteps, and to win others for Christ."1
Elder Wang, as he came to be known, had a passion for the lost. He headed to unreached areas of Shandong to preach the gospel, often staying six months or a year in a rented house where people daily met with him for prayer and conversation about the Living God. At every place, "God's blessing bestowed his efforts, souls were saved, and believers grew in grace and more fully realized the reality of God's Word."2
When he reached an advanced age Wang was unable to walk, so "he requested to be carried to church, so long as he was able to sit in a reclining chair, saying it did him much good to join with God's people in worship. He possessed a remarkably cheerful disposition. When persecuted and wronged, he bore it patiently and harbored no malice."3
Elder Wang had a particular love for children and youth, and was upset that there were so few opportunities for them to grow up with the knowledge of Christ. Despite his own poverty, he was able to fund the construction of a school.
When a doctor informed him that he had contracted an incurable disease and that he should prepare to die, Wang Baogui
"employed carpenters to bring timber and make his coffin in front of his door, so he could personally direct the work. He had a friend write in large characters, 'Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ.'
One Sabbath he asked to be carried into the open air so he might have another glimpse of the church and school buildings. As he gazed up at the blue sky, a peace and joy filled his soul. He said in a loud voice, 'My end is near; carry me into the house and prepare me for burial. Do not delay.' They were his last words, and his soul passed into his glorious inheritance."4
1. W.P.Bentley, Illustrious Chinese Christians: Biographical Sketches (Cincinnati, OH: The Standard Publishing Company, 1906), p. 183.
2. Bentley, Illustrious Chinese Christians, p. 184.
3. Bentley, Illustrious Chinese Christians, p. 188.
4. Bentley, Illustrious Chinese Christians, pp. 188-9.
© 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.