Lunch With David and Jenny Loi
Written by: Brenda Higgins
Living away from Ashland County doesn't make it easy for me to fellowship with some of the wonderful people I met during my time of working in the National Office. So you can imagine my joy when Paula contacted me that David and Jenny Loi were in town and they wanted to meet me for lunch. My husband and I keep in touch with the Loi's via Email and I couldn't allow this opportunity to slip by.
A lunch with David and Jenny Loi isn't just a "time of fellowship". Their animated passion automatically drew us through a journey from the table of the restaurant into the utmost parts of China. Before the waitress could take our orders, David had spread a large, paper map over our table. The map was covered with green stick-on dots. "Explain to me what these dots are." I asked of David.
Given the vast size of China it seemed impossible, yet David explained that each dot represented an area of various house-churches where he and Jenny had ministered over the last four years. He shared that their desire was to cover the entire continent; spreading the Gospel and bringing encouragement and strength to the pastors of the Chinese Christian churches. Even into Siberia. Will they accomplish this - even in 'retirement'? I have no doubt.
By the time my lunch arrived, it no longer held any appeal. I suddenly developed a different hunger. A hunger to dine on a humble bowl of warm noodles with the Loi's and the hundreds of desperate Christians gathered in some small, unheated room in China.
David and Jenny Loi don't travel to China for vacation. Their conference meetings aren't held in large, decorated conference rooms with modern equipment. While there, the Loi's don't sleep in nice hotels. David and Jenny Loi hold renewal meetings and revival services for the underground (secret) house-churches in homes, and rooms that Christians can quickly and inexpensively procure. Twice a year the Loi's travel there and live like none of us can imagine. The success of their ministry can't be measured in monetary value. The majority of the precious people they minister to have no money. But David and Jenny don't do this for personal comfort or financial prosperity. Why then do they go to China?
Their answer to the 'why' is lengthy and it's emotional. They use their map and photos and books to explain in ways we all might understand. Being a Christian in China is dangerous. But being a pastor of a Christian church is often life-threatening. For the safety of one pastor and his family (and for their own safety), the Loi's cancelled a meeting because the pastor's home had been 'raided' by the police twice in one week. Instead, the pastor brought his church to them at another house-church.
"Chinese Christians are hungry!" David shares. "They have nothing, yet they have Jesus!" A revival of sorts is rising and flowing throughout that country. It's happening so quickly that the pastors of these underground house churches aren't fully educated in Scripture. Many don't own complete Bibles. Some aren't educated at all. But someone loved them enough to risk their own safety to tell them about Jesus. To the Chinese Christians, Jesus is worth everything - including civil disobedience, and possibly their own lives. So regardless of their education, they preach and share what they know, always hiding in the shadow of persecution.
Jenny shared about one pastor who wept over how very tired and discouraged he'd been. He wanted to give up. But because David and Jenny had come, built up his faith and fed him encouragement and hope, the struggling pastor did not give up. Instead, when they revisited the area at a later date, his churches had grown from two to five!
It sounded like an exhausting schedule of meetings and travel for the Loi's. The Loi's are meek but not weak! The strength of these two warriors is evident as they share their itinerary. Visiting so many house churches and covering much area, the Loi's hold all-day meetings as one or several house churches gather together. The only schedule is to allow the Holy Spirit all of the time He needs wherever He wishes.
Some of the gathering rooms are larger and have a worship team.
Most house churches and meeting places are small.
And some of the meeting places are tiny. This preschool classroom wasn't large enough to hold everyone for prayer. The majority of worshipers had to wait outside while the Loi's prayed for five people at a time. Even though the temperatures were bitter and it was raining, no one left. Everyone desperately wanted/needed prayer.
The Loi's sleep at individual house churches. None of these homes or buildings has heat or running water. The residents depend on the cook-stoves to heat the room. The beds are not on wooden frames, but are elevated off the cold concrete floor, and each person must sleep under layers of clothing and blankets. Even though they preached wearing multiple layers of clothing and coats, the Loi's showed us photos where their faces, legs and feet were chapped raw and had developed rashes from the severe cold.
Jenny wanted me to share this photo to explain how the cook-stove doubles as the hot water heater. Water is poured into a pipe at the left of the stove where it is stored in a tank in the center. Charcoal is fed into the hole in the bottom front where it heats the water and the stove's surface. Hot water is then poured from the faucet on the left. This hot water is used for dishes, cleaning and bathing. (You can see Jenny's hand in the photo on the left.)
At some meetings they gathered outside for their noon meal because the sunshine was slightly warmer than the indoor room. Each person was given a bowl of hot soup, or a bowl of hot noodles before reentering the building to sit on planks of boards elevated between concrete blocks, so they could listen and learn more about this God who loves them with His life.
David and Jenny mesmerized us with the stories of demons fleeing, refreshings of mind and spirit, new spiritual gifts being received, healings from asthma, diabetes, and various ailments. They shared this photo of a man who arrived paralyzed on one side and not able to walk without a cane. After prayer, he left walking unassisted. The miraculous is the norm for their ministry. Jesus said He could - the simply believe He will.
When I asked, Jenny explained that the banners on either side of the doors in this photo translate to mean something similar to "heaven/God" and on the other side, "earth/man". Meaning that when Christians walk through the door to worship in unity, heaven comes to earth and God meets with man.
In the short time we were together, the Loi's shared testimony after testimony of how during earnest prayer, people were touched as God's presence filled the room and their hearts.
I wasn't ready for our lunch with them to end. I had so many questions. "Since your meetings are held in secret, how do people know where and when a service will be held?" David explained that this information is spread by word of mouth, from house-church to house-church. Churches can't plan too far in advance for fear that the authorities will shut the meeting down and confiscate the materials.
When the meetings are over in one area, David and Jenny are escorted by whatever transportation the church offers, to the bus station where they will head to their next destination.
It sounded grueling to me. Now over sixty years old, David and Jenny are not young anymore. But watching their faces as they expressed the JOY of ministering to the hungering people of China - they shone with the excitement and vigor of youth. To say that the Loi's "love God" is a tremendous understatement. David and Jenny are passionately "IN LOVE with God" and with each other, and with the people of God. And their passion is contagious.
Our lunch was over way too soon. We exchanged the gifts we'd brought for one another but David and Jenny weren't done. David asked our permission to anoint us with oil and pray for us. What an honor it was to have the hands that have prayed for hundreds of thousands of Chinese Christians to anoint us and pray for us. David and Jenny's plea to God was that He would impart to us every gift we need and the boldness to use those gifts unashamedly without hesitation. I felt their prayer and I heard their message.
Friday (8/31) and Saturday (9/1) at 7:00 pm and then Sunday (9/2) morning during morning worship services David and Jenny will be visiting Pleasant View Brethren Church in Vandergrift, PA. If you are in the area (or even if you aren't), please attend a service! I guarantee you that you will experience the heart and power of God - and you just might walk away changed!
The Loi's will travel into China again in October. Please mark your calendars to remember to pray for their safety, health and strength. And remember the desperately hungering people of China who even today are preparing their hearts and homes to receive the encouragement and hope that the Loi's will bring.