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Even in that “garden”

Pastor Chen suffered in a Chinese labor camp from 1960–1978. He had been arrested for his faith. His job, which amounted to a death sentence for most, was to work in the “nightsoil pits.” These were pits full of human waste. Few lasted long in the stench and disease. Chen worked there for six years. He was often offered his freedom in exchange for a renunciation of his faith. Chen refused. Instead, he would pray, recite scripture and sing hymns while working knee deep in human excrement. He began to see the nightsoil pits as his personal garden in which he could walk with God. He would sing his favorite hymn “In the Garden” loudly. Chen explains how he was able to praise God in the pits, “[It was] not because I was strong, but because He was with me — even as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.” Pastor Chen never lost sight of Jesus during those dark days and witnessed boldly to the love of Jesus to his oppressors and fellow prisoners.

– From a talk by Chinese pastor Hong Yang, Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida, April 2000.

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