Tour of the Western Hunan Province
We recently had the opportunity to tour western Hunan province with the Amity Foundation to see the work being done in that region.
We recently had the opportunity to tour western Hunan province with the Amity Foundation to see the work being done in that region. Like many of our trips over our five years in China, it was a reminder that even though hundreds of millions of people have benefitted from China’s rise, there are still many regions that look only slightly different from 100 years ago.
In one village, the floors were now concrete instead of dirt, but the walls were still made of mud and stick construction; the bathroom featured a new biogas system, but it was also a space shared with pigs; the villagers had new mobile phones, but they were used to stay in touch with their adult children whom they now saw only once a year. One young woman from Amity said that for the past several years it had been easy to see that farmers’ lives were rapidly improving, but these last few years have been different. According to what she had seen – rising inflation, sky rocketing transportation fees, and a virtual absence of health insurance- the farmers’ sense of economic stability had started to erode.
This is where Amity steps in. In Hunan a number of projects have been launched to help catch the rural residents who were in danger of falling through the cracks. Amity funds local clinics, irrigation projects, road construction, and water treatment facilities to help ensure a basic standard of living for China’s marginalized citizens. While these projects have very real effects, they were not what impressed us most in the countryside.
At a small church, which was little more than a single bare cement room, an entire village was gathered to give thanks to God for changing their lives. As one villager described it, “In the past, you could hear us fighting before you even stepped into the village. It was said that we were a people who could quarrel from morning to night.” That changed nearly 10 years ago when one of the women left the village on the hill to hear the minister preach in the nearby city. The trip took her several hours, but soon she was accompanied by almost every family in the village.
A few years later, with the help of the Amity foundation, a church was built in their village. It was the first church outside of the city. It wasn’t long before the community was transformed by the Holy Spirit. The fighting stopped; even the local government noticed the change and awarded them the title of “Harmonious Village.” Reading became a priority for many of the villagers, and one woman even studied while she worked the fields by having her husband print verses that she could tack to her plow. Another man, who had become a drug addict while working in a city, decided to return to the village and give up his old, destructive life.
While we are excited by the work that the Amity Foundation does such as building roads, schools and clinics, we should never lose sight of the fact that it is only God that can repair hearts, lives and communities.
In God’s Grace,
Tom and Lynnea Morse
Tom Morse is a member of Southport Christian Church, Indianapolis, IN. He serves with the Nanjing Drum Tower in the area of the hospital’s English communications. Lynnea is a member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Greene, IA. She serves with the Amity Foundation of China through Church World Service.