Documentary "Song of the Wilderness" Creation Testimony
Author: Hua Yu
I was born into a family of photographers. In 1989, I entered the Fine Arts Department of Shandong University of Arts, majoring in photography. I was the only female student in the class; I was pretentious, arrogant, and was longing for a free and romantic artist-life. At the beginning of 1997, I became a mother and entered family life. Due to the reality of having more responsibilities, my photography ideals and ambitions gradually subsided. In August 2004, I was converted and baptized. For the first seven years of believing in the Lord, I tasted the grace and sweetness of God and pursued the Lord as fiercely as a deer that thirsts forstream water. The Lord’s loving hand had been secretly guiding and training me. One occasion, after fasting for seven days, I was greatly filled with the Holy Spirit when I woke up at night to worship. I spent a lot of time praying urgently for the souls in Shandong Province that night, and became keen on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Because I loved film, I prayed for famous directors in China such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, and Feng Xiaogang for awhile, and begged the Lord to use them, so that they can make a movie on faith that thrilled the souls of the audience. Gradually, I became discouraged and thought - when will they believe in the true God? One day in 2008, I uttered a prayer to the Lord: “Lord, if I can cooperate with you to make one film in this life, it is a testimony to your glory, only one film is enough.” I prayed this simple prayer only once, though I would think about it occasionally. However, not long after, I forgot it and believed it was impossible to achieve.
II. Home Business
In the summer of 2011, while living in Beijing, my father asked me to return to my hometown to take over the wedding photography shop run by my brother. I thought to myself, “How could it be possible to return to that small place to start a business? If God wants to bless my career, it should be in Beijing!” However, I recalled when I was being filled with the Holy Spirit and prayed especially for the souls in Yimeng Mountain in Shandong Province. So I started to earnestly seek the Lord about the leading. I fasted for seven days at a church on a mountain near Qingdao, and I was sure that it was the Lord’s calling for me to go back to my hometown.
But my home is in Beijing, and my child has just entered middle school. Would my husband agree? At that time, the photo studio industry was in a downturn, and if I took over the photography shop, I would have to invest a large sum of money for renovation. God quickly shed light on these two things. My husband agreed with me going back. He felt that there should be no problem with my knowledge about the industry, let alone being with my family. My other prayer was to ask God to provide the renovation cost. I bought a new SLR camera and received a RMB20,000 filming business on that same day. I said to the Lord in my heart: my ideal number is RMB30,000. I didn't expect the other party to ask me to shoot for two more days, which increased my income by RMB10,000. After filming, I was given an extra RMB10,000 yuan bonus which brought the total income to RMB40,000. I was very excited at that time, seeing that God listened to my prayers, for He gave me more than I asked for. I was full of optimistic expectations because of God’s blessing, and I wanted to return to the workplace again.
On the long-distance bus back to my hometown Yishui, I was moved by the Holy Spirit and kept crying for the lost souls of Shandong farmers. This is not from me, but the Holy Spirit inside who was weeping. I know that the Lord had a call for me and placed a burden on my soul, especially in the rural place. When I first started to learn photography, I often went to rural places to shoot documentary works. The farmers in the Yimengmountainous area are simple and honest, and I am also very good at dealing with farmers. When I became a Christian, my goal was to preach the gospel and be a missionary. I believe there is nothing more valuable than leading a person to Jesus. That night, I told the Lord in my heart , “I was so touched by you, I don't know what I can do, but I am willing to obey your arrangements. If you bless my career, with the money I earn, I can dedicate myself to the rural place to preach the gospel.”
In October 2011, the store was under construction for renovation, but the landlord said,“Don’t you know this place is going to be demolished?” I was dumbfounded. Before I returned to my hometown, they all said that there was no plan for this place to be demolished, and that it could last at least for three to five years. Could it be that I prayed so cautiously for verification, but still committed an error? Brothers and sisters also began to suspect that my return was not led by God, and I was in a dilemma. However, with confidence, I completed the renovation for basic needs and named it "Eden Style Wedding Photography", which opened on Christmas Day.
The renovation and the purchase of equipment cost a total RMB150,000, which was all the money I had. Because I didn't know when the demolition would be announced, I ran the studio passively, and could barely maintain the expenses. All my own experience and ability couldn’t be used at all. This incident shattered my pride and took away all my motivations to serve God with my own ability.
III. Approaching Mother Xu
During the Spring Festival in 2012, a minister couple told me: There was an old woman from outside of Momodun Village, Chaishan Town, who took care of another paralyzed old woman. It has been eight years and she lived in a house without a roof, but both of them were healthy and joyful. The couple visited them once in a while.
I was deeply attracted and went to the village with them. The first time I met Mother Xu and Jianxiu Fan, the inner shock was beyond expression. It was still winter, and the 79-year-old Mother Xu was wrapped in a military coat.
She lived in a small broken house without a roof, only covered with plastic sheets. After seeing the brothers and sisters, the joy that emanated from her heart made her blush. There was a table, four chairs and a new bed in her cabin. Mother Xu said that she asked a carpenter to make it, in order to receive people, for she hoped that the place could be a meeting place. She herself slept on a very narrow folding bed.
The paralyzed old woman Jianxiu Fan lives in a dark and low earthen house next to it. The six-square-meter hut was filled with the pungent smell of ammonia because of urination all year round. Although Mother Xu cleans up her poop and pee every day, there was no running water to rinse the place. The well was far away at the foot of the mountains, and it took a lot of effort to get water. In addition, the hut did not have windows for ventilation. On the first visit, I really couldn't get inside because of the smell. I stood one meter away from the door and listened to Jianxiu Fan talk about how Jesus talked to her and how HE boiled a pot of water for her. That time, I used my cell phone to take a photo for our first meeting.
There was a prayer meeting in my photography shop every Tuesday night. Mother Xu loved the Lord very much. In the afternoon, she took a bus for more than two hours from Momodun and came to pray. She was a spiritually prudent person. She is illiterate, yet she can read the entire Bible. She could use the basic tools to cook and take care of Jianxiu Fan, but sometimes she couldn’t even button her clothes. After getting off the bus, she didn’t know the road. She asked the vendors on the road to call me, so I went to pick her up.
I stayed with her on the sofa in the store for one night, then sent her back on the bus the next day. Whenever I worried, Mother Xu encouraged me by saying, "God didn’t send you to do this or that. You came to work with me. It’s good for you to suffer, as your reward in heaven is great! God only lets me have a glimpse of heavenly glory." It was clear that she had a very close relationship with the Lord. However, I was in deep trouble at the time, I didn't take these words seriously.
In the early summer of 2012, the Holy Spirit inspired me to go to Momo Dun to record the living conditions of Mother Xu and Jianxiu Fan. My sister and dad also went to visit these sisters in the wilderness. It was drizzling that day, so I took some photos in the afternoon. In the evening, it began to rain heavily. I was lying on a hardboard bed and could not sleep. There were a few concrete slabs on the roof, one meter above my head, but raindrops fell on the rain-covering plastic sheet. From time to time, raindrops splashed on my face. All the pots and bowls that can be used in the hut were used to catch rainwater. In such an environment, Mother Xu slept very soundly. She never took off her clothes when she slept, so that she could get up and pray at any time. Listening to her snoring, I was a little frustrated. I asked God,“Yousent me here to shoot, why don't you give me good weather?” Then I heard God’s small voice saying, “I want you to experience her difficulty”. I felt at ease and sighed with emotion. I was the first guest to sleep in this cabin, also the first one to eat with her. Mother Xu was very happy.
It was still cloudy the next day. I started shooting two of them in Jianxiu Fan’s cabin. I had to hold my breath because the smell was really unbearable. I don’t know if Mother Xu could smell it. Maybe God blocked the smell for both of them. But when I got into the excitement of shooting, I also forgot the unpleasant smell. Years of portrait photography experience has enabled me to keenly capture the emotion of the two being dependent on each other. Almost every captured photo was a success. At this time, I discovered that the cloudy weather is the most suitable for shooting in the cabin. If it is a sunny day, the sun shines in from the small door. Without a reflector, the light would be very hard and the contrast would be too great. Thank the Lord for taking charge of the weather. That day, I recorded their lives mainly with pictures, and for the first time, I recorded by video the two cuddled together, sharing a story about heaven.
There was peace and joy from the Lord in that shabby hut. This became a particularly valuable piece of footage. That night I was moved to wash Mother Xu's feet, and she gladly agreed without any protest. The tub of water became black afterwards. I saw her true freedom in Christ, simple as a child. After washing her feet, she slept especially well. She said it was only four or five years after she came to Momodun Village that she was connected to a church in Yishui County, and there a sister took her to the city to take a bath twice a year.
In the fall of 2012, God called Mother Xu to lead weekly meetings in Chenjiazhuang, Laigang City, where she used to preach the gospel and plant churches. Out of obedience, after settling down with Jianxiu Fan every Saturday, she rushed to Chenjiazhuang to preach. The Holy Spirit moved me to go with her once again to record. It took more than three hours on the long bus to get there. That night was very cold, and I slept with Mother Xu in an elder sister's house. The bed was very hard and covered with only a thin blanket. My hands and feet were cold and could not be warmed. I woke up in the middle of the night with my feet feeling pinched and sore, and found that Mother Xu held my feet in her arms and kept rubbing them with her hands to warm them up. I was very touched, for her love was so real and practical, and always giving.
Unfortunately, the "Eden Style Wedding Photography" was finally demolished. The landlord received 15 million dollars for the demolition of the land, and the government compensation of RMB90,000 for the photography store was taken away by the landlord.
At first, my brother invested a lot of money in the decoration of this photography store. After I took over, I redecorated the store. The compensation for the renovation should have belonged to my brother and me，but the landlord did not give me any money. My friend suggested that I sue the landlord. So after running the business for just seven months, I was caught in a lawsuit. It was a simple lawsuit, but the court just could not settle it. Because of the lawsuit, I had to often stay in Yishui. In addition to taking care of my father, I also had more opportunities to interview Mother Xu. Otherwise, I would have lost the money and the store, and my husband would have sent me back to Beijing. It seemed like everything was by God's permission.
IV. Documenting life
My friends Mohan Yang and Xinwu Zhang watched the films I took. After hearing the story of Mother Xu, they drove from Beijing to visit Yishui, Shandong. In the late autumn of 2012. While Mother Xu was out, Jianxiu Fan's son took his mother home due to public pressure and for the sake of government subsidies for the renovation of dangerous houses for the disabled. He made every effort to prevent these two elder women from meeting.
Out of the director's acumen, brother Zhang had been filming. At this moment, Jianxiu Fan was locked in confinement. Mother Xu was anxious, I went to a neighbor's house to borrow a ladder, and helped Mother Xu climb over the wall into Jianxiu Fan son's house. The reunion of the two sisters was very touching. It was fortunate that director Zhang recorded that unexpected event that day. At that time, although I did not know film editing, I wanted to preserve these valuable materials out of a photographer's instinct. Later, the Holy Spirit moved me not to stop recording, and sometimes, when the equipment was not with me, I would ask my local friends to help me. Qizhu Guo and Bo Zhang are my good friends, who both work in television stations.
Jianxiu Fan was soon locked up in the yard by her son, sleeping on the cold, straw ground. She was poorly cared for and became sick with colds. The son also repeatedly refused to let Mother Xu come over for visits. One Sunday, Mother Xu had no choice but to call me. I was in Beijing, so I had to ask my older brother to bring a photographer and brothers from the church to visit and negotiate with Jianxiu Fan's son to let his mom come back to live with Mother Xu. They drove in the snow and had a hard time getting to the Momodun Village to negotiate, and had no success.
As I kept shooting and recording, I understood more and more of why God kept me in Yishui. I was losing all, but participated in a glorious ministry. In the most difficult times, this Bible verse remained a source of strength for me: “Although the fig tree does not flourish, the vine does not bear fruit, the olive tree is ineffective, the field does not produce grain, the pen is deprived of sheep, and there are no cattle in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, and be glad in the God who saved me. The Lord Jehovah is my strength! He makes my feet as swift as a doe's hoof, and makes me walk steadily on high (Habakkuk 3:17-19).”
After she was rescued from gas poisoning in the hut, her oldest son took her home to Laiwu and put her under his supervision because he didn’t want her to continue to suffer. Mother Xu said to me on the phone: "Huayu, you have to be brave and continue to work, don't let the devil win!” She was still thinking about Jianxiu Fan and turning Momodun Village into an evangelical village.
In the first month of 2013, I took Mother Xu back to Yishui and stayed at my parents' home for a month. During this time we spent more time together and shot a lot of films. Some brothers and sisters did not understand; they thought that Mother Xu's work was done and that she should go back to her own children to enjoy the blessings of old age, rather than come back to suffer. Only Mother Xu knew clearly that MomodunVillage was the place God had destined for her. She also had a wish to build a house and establish a church of love there. On March 20, 2013, she returned to MomodunVillage.
In August 2013, before building a house for Mother Xu, I went through two rounds of medical examinations in Beijing, both of which showed a suspicion of breast cancer,
so I had to wait half a month for further diagnosis. I was very nervous, but when I remembered Mother Xu's response to all diseases and difficulties, she was never afraid nor compromised. I was strengthened and thought to myself that my life was the Lord's, what else can I be afraid of? The only thing I couldn't let go of was my family, but they were also in the Lord's hands, weren't they? So I rushed back to Yishui, Shandong Province, greeted the Secretary of the Momodun Village, contacted the well-builders, and pulled up the electric wire. After everything was ready, the brothers from the Canaan Church in Hebei drove over 400 km in a van with tools to help.
The town government prohibited us from building a new house, so we had to renovate the hut. We followed the Bible's teaching of obedience to authority and renovated Mother Xu's hut. We built a large yard, installed water and electricity, and made it look brand new.
At that time, there was no large-capacity TF card, so I had to use a lower resolution format when I didn't have enough memory, leading to the poor quality of the footage later. There was no professional recording equipment, which also led to a lot of difficulties in sound processing in the post-production of the film. This simplest Canon 5D2 SLR camera has been with me for several years.
Mother Xu lived in a clean and spacious courtyard, and Momodun Village had a loving church where everyone praised and worshiped the Lord joyfully. I was also waiting with great hope for the day when the MomodunVillage church would grow and revitalize.
I thank the Lord that after the house was built, I returned to Beijing in August and continued my breast checkups, and they were completely fine.
V. Mother Xu leftThe day before October 15, 2013, my dad called and urged me to go back to deal with the lawsuit even thoughI had already gone back once in September. But in order to obey my father, I decided to get on the long distance bus and went home again. I was half asleep and half praying on the bus, when suddenly the words came to my heart: “Do you remember the prayer you used to pray? This is the movie that I’m working with you.” Every time I heard God's voice, my whole person could only surrender, and tears flowed down like broken beads. That night, I called to greet Mother Xu. She told me about her recent situation: she was received by brothers and sisters to the church in the city on Saturday, had communion on Sunday, and was sent back to the Momodun Village again. We talked on the phone for about twenty minutes. The next afternoon, I finished my business and called her again, wanting to visit her. But from 2:00 p.m. until evening, no one answered the phone. After calling sixteen times, my heart sank and I thought something was wrong. The next day, October 17, at 5:00 a.m, I called a brother living in the next village and asked him to go and check on her. He called me back before 6am, told me that Mother Xu was received by the Lord. My mind went blank. It was so sudden; the house had just been built for two months, and she was very healthy as of yesterday. How can she just leave us like this? What should I do next? After calming myself down, I found the pastor of the local church and made sure he could come to officiate the funeral. I then notified her family and brothers and sisters in Hebei. My sister drove a few members and me, bought flowers on the way, and Sister Derek Chang dedicated the resting clothes she had prepared for her mother. We arrived at the hut first. Mother Xu was sitting on a chair with her upper body collapsed on the bed. No one saw how she went, and it became a mystery, but from what I know about her, she must have been received by the Lord in prayer. Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the word that I have believed.” Mother Xu completed her mission on earth and left the church with a precious spiritual treasure. With Mother Xu’s departure, I thought the story was over. What should I do next? All I could do was to pray and wait for God to give the order. Later, Mother Xu's oldest son, Ketao Wang, told me that he often went to the Momodun Village. He would cry quietly by himself, stand in front of the hut, and walk to the well where Mother Xu drew water. At that time, Ketao Wang was still very weak, and had not been gathering with the church for many years. He had a lot of regrets for the loss of his mother, so he gave himself to alcohol. Then I recalled Mother’s Xu prayer for her son when she was still alive, I thought I might have to continue to record the story even tough Mother Xu has departed us.
VI. Life Transformation
When the lawsuit was finally concluded and I only received half of the compensation, I officially returned to Beijing after the Chinese New Year in 2014 to organize my materials and wait for God’s preparation. At that time, God had already revealed to me that He would use this testimony to accomplish a lot of heavenly work. While waiting for the Lord’s next step, I worked as a part-time editorial director for a media company, and although I experienced many ups and downs, I also accumulated the necessary experience and knowledge. At the same time, whenever I had time, I went back to Shandong to continue recording the changes in the Momodun Village.
Mother Xu has been back to her heavenly home for more than two years. During this period, I experienced many setbacks and hurts, was constantly running around, and was tired physically and spiritually. I was full of depression, confusion and frustration. I was moved to go to the Momodun Village after feeling my life was too much in need of a breakthrough and renewal, and hoped to get answers from God. I thought I would stay in the hut of Mother Xu, but when I returned to Yishui, the Holy Spirit made it very clear that I was to fast in the hut of Jianxiu Fan. I immediately remembered that the Lord Jesus had appeared to Jianxiu Fan in that hut, was He going to appear to me as well? I was so excited to experience a supernatural miracle that I prepared a chair for Jesus in the hut.
After Mother Xu passed away, God moved Brother Shouliang Li to come to Momodun Village to shepherd the believers. In 2013, Jianxiu Fan’s son blocked the hut with stones.
At night, Brother Li moved the stones away, cleaned the hut, and installed the electric wire. The floor was uneven, so I used dried corn leaves to level the ground and put down foam mats that I brought with me as a floor. After all these changes, this six square meter place became a comfortable hut, much better than what Jianxiu Fan used to have. As I opened the blanket to sleep, I heard the disgusting noise of mice; I rebuked them in Jesus’ name, and they never appeared again.
Brother Lee re-built the doorway with stones, which would be completely closed for seven days.
During the process of shooting the film, I was completely alone, with no support. Only my brother and sister assisted me, no one else knew what I was doing. No one knew what the film was going to be until it was presented, so I had to face the doubts of others who thought I was exalting a person, only God knew what I was facing. My family only saw that I was getting poorer and needed their help. I used to give my sisters the clothes I didn’t wear, but now I had to pick up their clothes and wear them. In the face of society, my family, and the church, I could only tell God about all my grievances. After experiencing this lonely journey, I knew how great the hardship was.
With all kinds of questions, I talked with God in the hut. I was caught by God from the day I met the Lord, and I longed to seek Him and obey Him all the way. Why was the vision given to me met with so many obstacles? What are the reasons? How can I accomplish this task that You have given me? Would things have turned out differently if I hadn’t gone this way? Just as Job was asking hard questions before God, the more he asked, the more his pride and ignorance became apparent. If all this is of GodI will be silent! What else can I do to make me seem worthy, but to surrender to Him and worship?
The Holy Spirit moved me to read the book of Job, and again God’s words gave me comfort: “He acts on the left, but I cannot see, and on the right He hides, and I cannot see Him. Yet He knows the way that I walk, and after He has tried me, I shall be as fine gold. (Job 23:9-10)”
At the same time the Holy Spirit also convicted me, revealed in me that I had not yet truly forgiven people, revealed my pride, falsehood and self-righteousness. I repented with tears of pain, using up a big bag of paper wiping tears and snot every day. As if the Lord himself is a surgeon, He performed surgery on me to heal and release, He restored and anointed me. After fasting for four days, I was moved by the Holy Spirit that I had to fast even without water for the next three days.
On the third day of total fasting, every second of lying down became extremely difficult. I could not lie flat, for I had no strength. I also could not stand up, and squatted to move. After praying in silence for a while, I fell asleep and woke up again feeling much more comfortable, thanking the Lord for His preservation.
At noon on this last day, I suddenly smelled a smell that was not good. I thought it was the burning smell from someone’s cooking in the distance, but the Holy Spirit reminded me inside that it was the aroma of myrrh. I thanked the Lord that I would accept this myrrh in love. All my experiences are God’s permission to purify me, so that I may have hope in the end and obtain an eternal foundation. Through this fasting, the Lord gave me two visions: One is that the documentary will be awarded and God will use the international platform to testify His own name; the other is that I will testify for the Lord on Good News TV’s Truth Love Blog Show.
Till the end of the fast, the Lord did not let me see Him with my physical eyes. But it was His sovereignty, just like how He did not heal Jianxiu Fan or change her circumstances, I really knew He was there watching me, leading me to breakthrough and transforming me.
VII. A New Beginning
When my son's college entrance exams were over in July 2016, God moved me to quit my part-time job in the media ministry. I used the summer break to return to Shandong again to visit Mother Xu's children, interviewed the church in Plain County, Dezhou (where she first came to faith in Christ), visited the MomodunVillage, and filmed and recorded a lot of new material.
In August 2016, a sister gave 20,000 yuan for the film, which happened to be my birthday, and it was the first time I received an offering. I knew God wanted me to start preparing for post-production, so I used the money to buy a MacBook to prepare for editing. One day in the early morning, the Holy Spirit said clearly in my heart that the film was to be called "Song of the Wilderness''. Some days later, the Holy Spirit moved me to write the lyrics of the ending song, which was the sublimation of the whole story, summarizing Mother Xu's experience and expressing my own feelings about life over the years.
In November, the Beijing Film Academy held the iDocsInternational Documentary Forum, where I watched 20 award-winning documentaries during the week, attended master class workshops, listened to lectures by documentary filmmakers and directors, and gained a basic understanding of the field.
Compared to these award-winning documentaries, I felt that my own work was so immature. But the Holy Spirit had been comforting and encouraging me that the world's standard is not God's standard, it’s unmatchable with God's anointing upon it. Don't underestimate it, for this was the testimony of a saint's life and my partnership with God through obedience, which the Lord values.
In April 2017, I was ready to go back to Shandong to film a clip of the film; sister Yuping Han's image was perfect for playing Mother Xu’s youth. I was moved to find a brother to write a biography of Mother Xu at the same time, so the three of us went to Shandong and interviewed and filmed non-stop in Laiwu, Laigang, Tai'an, Yishui, Momodun Village, and Xiaomaitou.
Every day, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we completed our work with great efficiency. The village of Xiaomitou still has the same customs and people of decades ago: old earth houses, winding paths, and simple old people; therefore it was a good place to shoot the state of Mother Xu when she was young. We stopped by the small mesa to see the old village headman Wenxiu Li, whom we had not seen for many years. This paralyzed elder received the Lord in his seventies that day. Praise the Lord!
The land of Mofudun was renovated and planted with cherry trees. It is said that the twin hills in the village that resemble a woman's breast, will be renamed as Shuangrufeng. All these have beautiful spiritual symbolic meaning. Back in 2015, I walked around the village praying that God would bless this land, where Mother Xu offered herself as the most beautiful sacrifice, and that her testimony would be like milk to feed people's lives and that soon these fruit trees would bear fruit too! What a wonderful work of God! May the rain of God's grace nourish and water this land!
VIII. Walking by faith
After returning to Beijing, I felt the urging of the Holy Spirit to enter into post-production. After all these years of living a life of faith, I have spent time, money, and my whole being. The Holy Spirit moved me to continue to move forward by faith, and my feet must first step into the Jordan River before the waters will part. In the prayer, God gave a figure of RMB100,000 for the total costs of post-production. This is a small amount of money compared to other professionally made films, but it is a significant amount for the church. Professional sound processing was needed, as well as original music, and a mature editor. Sometimes I felt helpless. God stopped me from reaching out to professionals and put me in a circle of people who knew nothing about the industry; no one knew how big the need was, and I couldn’t ask for it myself even though I knew I had to take a leap of faith. One day I talked to the Lord and asked him to stop giving me a hard time, could it be easier? How about buying a lottery ticket to win enough money to pay for post-production? When I came out of the lottery store, the tendon in my right thigh flashed and I had to walk with a limp on this leg when I came home from shopping at the supermarket. I knew very well that this was God’s discipline, and that He was not pleased with this behavior. My husband joked, “Let this (buying) lottery ticket be counted on me!” I confessed my sin and repented. The next day at noon, my right leg was back to normal.
The earth is God’s footstool, and heaven is His throne. All things are God’s; does He ever lack money? But He was pleased with the five loaves and two fish the child offered, and He was touched by the widow’s offering of two copper coins. God wants more brothers and sisters to participate in this service. God also showed me that whoever blesses this film, God will also bless him.
A pastor in Beijing was moved by this testimony and called brothers and sisters to give. Another sister, Fenghua Guo from Yishui, Shandong Province, represented the Yishui Church, and the Canaan Church in Hebei Province, where some gave more and some gave less, one unemployed sister gave twenty dollars, which I believe God remembers. It was a little bit from this person, a drop from that person, the project has been moving forward step by step. At the end of the day, all the money spent was basically the number given by God in prayer.
In May 2017, I rented two cheap houses in Beijing Xiangshan as an editing studio, working during the day and being able to have morning devotions on the mountain.
Sister Le Fan, who spent two years editing the documentary on the Xin Wei couple, had some experience in both technical and spiritual aspects, when God arranged for her to come over and participate in post-production. We spent three months together. Though there were frictions and conflicts during the editing process, in the end, we both overcame and were united in love with each other and had our lives expanded. The Holy Spirit also reminded us from time to time what materials had been left behind so that they can be found again. One night, the song from Psalm 46 sung by Mother Xu kept haunting me in my sleep for almost the whole night. The next day we immediately found this material and used it as a background on a very appropriate image. In the last line of the narration, I exclaimed, “My life has been turned over and renewed like this land,” and in my sleep the Holy Spirit reminded me of the “barren land”. I thank the Lord for not letting go of every detail!
After the editing was completed, there was the work of original music, color mixing and sound editing, each of which was carried out at the right time and in an intense manner. Xiao Wen and Yang Zhang are in the Lord’s music ministry, and the Lord wonderfully led us to meet them in Beijing. We let them take over the music production of the film, and they completed the original music with Chinese characteristics in a short period of time. In addition to their own talent, it was a real surprise to see God’s anointing accompanying the film at all times, and even more surprising was the unpaid participation of Ms. Wanrong Lin from Little Lamb Hymns in the composition of the ending song. We were also surprised by the silent participants, the graphic designer Sister Phoebe who designed the posters, Sister Jingjing Wu and Brother Peng Li from Singapore who translated the English subtitles for the film as volunteers, and the brothers and sisters who gave their time and prayers behind the scenes.
The first version was basically completed in October 2017 and was shown for the first time in a special meeting in Israel. After it was over, there were prayers of painful repentance from the audience, and Mother Xu’s life was like a mirror that touched everyone in different ways. At that time, I had no idea where to show it and when to show it. I only knew that God was in charge, I just obeyed. It was only after I arrived in Israel that God revealed to me the order He wanted to use.
For some reason it was delayed and the film could not be finished ahead of time, and the final output of the video was done just moments before I got on the plane to Israel. If it had been done ahead of time, it might have been shared in the churches in China, but God’s order was to start with Jerusalem first. This was an initiation because He wanted to use this film to bring blessings to the churches, to convey God’s heart, and to correct the churches today back to the original love. I had to marvel once again at how God works, how no one can stop His plan, and how everything goes according to His timeline.
In November 2017, the Holy Spirit moved me to make a trip back to Shandong to find Jianxiu Fan’s son, and after a few weeks of inquiry, I found out that he worked in a local shoe factory. After meeting him, I preached the gospel to him. He was touched by the love of the brothers and sisters and contrary to his past attitude of resistance, he accepted Jesus as his Savior on Thanksgiving Day, November 23. The film was revised again, and this part was done at the end using subtitles. This was the perfect ending that God wanted! I believe all the saints and all the angels in heaven are rejoicing. Luke 15:10 says, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
When I returned to Beijing on February 18 after the Spring Festival, God moved me to pray for the media field again and to fast for 40 days. My good friend, Sister Phoebe, was also moved to pray for this area, and she fasted one meal every day at noon. When I reached the sixth day of the fast, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that after seven days I could eat one meal at noon every day until the end of the fast, so we both paired up to complete this 40-days fast. I thank the Lord that He was considerate of my weakness and did not put a difficult burden on me.
IX. He is Faithful
The 2018 International Christian Film Festival, May 2-5, was held in Orlando, Florida, USA. Film elites from various countries gathered, and the nominated films were shown in various auditoriums. On the morning of the 4th, "Song of the Wilderness" was scheduled to be shown in a small, inconspicuous hall, with only a dozen people in the audience. Although there were not many people, those who stuck around to watch it were very touched. A German director kept shedding tears while watching it. After watching the film, everyone was asking questions and showing great interest in the story of how it was shot. I also went to see other films in those days. There was an American-made 3D film Genesis, which was very well made, and because of sufficient publicity, the film attracted a large number of viewers to one of the largest theaters. I also saw another important film, a documentary about the story of Germany and the Jews, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel. Many of the entries were great for the competition documentary program. Two years ago, while fasting in the hut of Jianxiu Fan in Momodun Village, God revealed to me that the documentary would win an international award. Before coming to the U.S., I was unshaken about winning the award, but after seeing so many great entries, I suddenly had no idea what the final outcome of "Song of the Wilderness" would be.
On the evening of the 5th, the award ceremony started, and the red carpet was rolled out in the corridor of the hotel, and people kept taking pictures on the red carpet. Thousands of people attended the ceremony at 9:00 p.m. and were seated in the awards hall. The humor of the hosts and the live music made the atmosphere relaxed, yet filled with tension from time to time. Coming into the awards ceremony, I had received nominations for “Best Director”, “Best Inspirational Story”, “Best Trailer”, and “Best Documentary”. The first three nominated awards went by without the name of "Song of the Wilderness", and my sister Luya, who helped me to translate, was more nervous than I was. In case I didn’t win any awards, were the four nominations themselves the award that God had promised? At this moment I was really a bit uncertain. The last award in the documentary section finally started to be announced, there were four places for the best documentary award. The fourth place was a documentary filmed by a German director, the third place was an American documentary, and the second place was a documentary filmed by a Korean director. The scene paused for a while, and the host announced the first place. As soon as "Song of the Wilderness" was announced, Luya and I jumped up and ran onto the stage together, holding hands and holding back tears for just over ten seconds. One of the most significant awards is of course the Best Documentary Award, which contains all the nominations.
God is faithful and His promises must be fulfilled! He has chosen me to work with Him, and I am so insignificant, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians: "For behold your calling, brethren, that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea and the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory before God. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
After the documentary was completed, the Holy Spirit moved me to begin to reflect on these seven years of experience. It cannot be denied that the path of following the Lord is full of challenges, for it is a narrow road, accompanied by thrills at all times, but also full of surprises at times. God is the best coach who knows how to train us to become victorious players. God led step by step according to my stature. This is not only a testimony of a saint’s life, but also a microcosm of the growth of the church in China. Delivered and released from Satan's oppression, experiencing hardship, longing and seeking, persecution and suffering, enduring and maturing, shedding tears and sowing seeds, to prosperity and glory! The churches in China will be revived to be a blessing to the nations and fulfill the historical mission God has given to China!
On August 5, 2018, three months after the Orlando award, "The Song of the Wilderness" received six more nominations from the Great Lakes Christian Film Festival and won the Best Director Award at the awards ceremony in Buffalo, NY.
The earthly awards are God's encouragement to man for more importantly, we are to gain the heavenly rewards. God is the true director of this film, and may all praise and glory be unto Him!
On November 10, 2018, I was interviewed on GoodTVfor the True Love Blog show, and the interview “Song of the Wilderness” premiered on GoodTV on February 14, 2019. So far, the visions given by God are being fulfilled one by one, and there is much more He wants to accomplish, let's wait together to watch what He does! I hope this story will be a blessing not only to the churches in China, but also to all the nations!