On Jan. 20, Zhang Ruzhen traveled from her home in Wuhan to Chengdu to celebrate Chinese New Year with her son, Xue Ximing, and his family. She soon developed a cough and low-grade fever, so the family brought her to the local hospital. By Jan. 23, doctors discovered she had contracted the novel coronavirus and quarantined her and Xue’s family.
Members of Xue’s Enfu Church prayed for Zhang and the family, bringing them food as they remained under quarantine. Pastor Paul Peng called Zhang on Jan. 24 and shared the gospel with her, explaining man’s sin and Jesus’ saving death on the cross. He asked if she wanted to accept Jesus. After a slight hesitation, she agreed.
The church gave Zhang’s nurses a sound system to play hymns, and nurses said she spent the last 24 hours of her life listening to it before dying on Jan. 29. She was the first coronavirus fatality in Sichuan province.
With her family quarantined and the epidemic keeping most people home, Peng held a memorial service over a videoconferencing platform for about 100 of Zhang’s friends and family. He preached on Psalm 80 and how calamity should lead people to pray not only for God to rescue them, but also for people to repent and turn to God. “If the sudden death of Mrs. Xue can lead you to repent before God, then this day will be the day your mother rests in the Lord and the day your whole family is saved,” Peng said. Xue also gave a testimony of his mother’s life.
By that afternoon, the audio and transcript of the memorial was posted on Enfu Church’s WeChat page and has since garnered about 80,000 pageviews. Peng said that after the service, several of the family’s friends came to profess faith in Christ. One person even contacted Peng asking if the pastor would lead her in the sinner’s prayer.
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