While in mainland China in 1991, I had the opportunity to visit the Sha Kai Church near Zongshan. Grace Yu and I followed a young three-self minister of the church to the home of Elder Mu. The pastor insisted we meet this man and hear his story.
Every country and economic status of its people have unique odors, street semblances, interiors of houses, hospitality, living conditions, customs, standards of acceptable conduct, worship styles, fashions, food, and concepts about foreigners. I remember the walk from the Sha Kai Church to home of Elder Mu because of some of the distinct odors of the street. Homes with a damp dirt floor and walls elude a special odor that is uniform around the world. The odor smells like a wet cloth that has been left on bathroom floor for several days. It builds up a mixture of bacteria and mold that explodes in all directions when the rag is moved. Multiply the smell by years of quiet buildup in a house and the staleness becomes so dense that it quickly floods the air when any door is opened to the outside. I often wonder how people’s lungs endure years and years of their waking and sleeping hours in these humble home. None of these families had dehumidifiers that could easily improve the environment. Sunny days do not remove the build up because of the few windows or doors. The sun’s warmth only clears the air from depositing another small amount of mold on the existing layer. The clothes of the residents absorb that odor very similar to the clothing of a smoker. And, you can often tell where a person lives by the odor of their clothing. Of course, they could do nothing in those days about the persistent humidity that cursed the ambiance of their homes.
We found Elder Mu’s home on one of those streets. Elder Mu had been one of the elders and perhaps the key leader of the Sha Kai CP Church prior to the Cultural Revolution. He lived in a simple house, but was blessed with a tile floor and whitewashed adobe walls. Unlike so many of the houses, this house was blessed with an open courtyard that opened into a bamboo forest. And, the daily sunshine bleached the air with freshness. When Elder Mu was in his fifties, Chairman Mao mandated that all Christian churches be closed. Believers received unannounced visits to their homes by government representatives who confiscated Bibles, religious pictures, and Christian literature.
Most Christian leaders were persecuted harshly in the aggresive effort to cleanse the society of any Western influence and any loyalties that interfered with commitments to the Communist dogma. Some leaders were sent to a sort of reorientation camp. Elder Mu was one of those scheduled for one of those camps. However, prior to being moved from his home, elder Yu suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed from the neck down. The physical paralysis of the stroke persisted for more than thirty years. It was only after the new directions of the Chinese government in the early 1980’s that he has begun to improve. He remained faithful, teaching, and witnessing from his bed through all those years. When I met him, at age 83, he had had his health restored. Praise God for his glorious acts.