In August, 2018, an imposing African swine fever suddenly broke out. As it spread to China, many provinces and cities in the northeast and south of the country suffered its attack, and the spread of this disease received lots of coverage in all major media outlets. In the most affected areas, pork was pulled off the market and infected pigs were electrocuted, burned, or buried in large numbers. To those pig farmers, this plague undoubtedly came as a heavy blow, among whom some lost a yearly income while some even ended up going bankrupt and heavily in debt. As a pig farmer in the infected area who tended pigs the same way as others did, I, however, managed to emerge from panic and anxiety and experienced God’s wonderful deeds under the guidance of His words. Every time I think back on this experience, deep emotions well up within me …
Because of my poor health, I couldn’t go out to work and my husband didn’t have a job either, and our family raised pigs for a living. In 2018, we kept nearly 100 pigs, and we were looking forward to the day when they became fully grown so that we could sell them to pay our daily expenses.
One afternoon in August when I was visiting a friend in a neighboring village, she asked me anxiously, “Have your pigs died?” “No,” I replied. “Why?” “You don’t know that?” said she in surprise. “There is a plague raging here, and almost all the pigs in our village have died.” Upon hearing this news, I felt like my head was all abuzz. Before, I had heard that there was a swine fever in the South, but I’d never expected that it would spread to our village so soon. I then thought of several pigs we had which died last month—could it be that they had been infected with the swine fever? My friend then said, “Other pig farmers whose pigs got infected earlier have sold the uninfected ones. You should also do something. But I’m afraid it’s already too late.” At that time, my heart was in great turmoil and I immediately rushed back home. As soon as I got home, I made calls to all the butchers I knew to see whether I could sell my pigs to them. To my surprise, none of them wanted my pigs and they said, “The plague is so terrible now that even the expressway has been closed and nobody is allowed in or out. No one is buying pigs now.” Hearing this, my heart sank. I thought: “It’s over. Our village is an infected area. If we can’t sell the healthy pigs, won’t they eventually all die? What should I do?” I hurried to discuss this matter with my husband and son, who, after learning about the situation, immediately fumigated and cleaned the pigsty. After that, however, my heart still couldn’t calm down.
That night, I rolled to and fro in my bed, unable to sleep, and my heart was held in suspense. I kept pondering: “How much will we lose if all our pigs die? How are we going to live in the future?” As I thought about this, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t come before God to pray and seek His will in such a major circumstance. So I immediately prayed to God, “O God, I’m scared that our pigs would get infected with the swine fever and wouldn’t sell so that our hard work over the past year would go to waste. God, I know this situation has Your approval. May You lead me to understand Your will.” After the prayer, my heart calmed down a little, but I was still worried that our pigs would die. My heart was constantly in turmoil and I didn’t sleep a wink the whole night.
The next day, my daughter-in-law came back from a trip. After learning about this matter, she came to comfort me, saying, “Mom, you’re still sick, so you shouldn’t be worried or anxious. Don’t worry about those pigs. As believers in God, we should believe that everything God does is good and is beneficial to us. Do you remember Job’s experiences in the Bible? When he lost all of his immense wealth and all of his sons and daughters, he was able to take a rational approach to all this without making any complaints to God. He believed that everything happening to him, be it good or bad, was authorized by God, and was able to say, ‘Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah’ (Job 1:21). In the end, he relied on his faith to stand firm in his testimony to God. Job’s faith in God is something we should emulate. Although we don’t understand what God’s will is, we should first submit and believe in His sovereignty and arrangements. Without God’s permission, no matter how fierce this plague is, it can’t kill our pigs.” Hearing what my daughter-in-law said, I came to understand how I should treat this plague. I said, “It’s true. Whether we are rich or poor is ordained by God, and money is not earned because we want to earn it. If God deprives us through the plague, we should also obey Him, and no matter how much we may lose, we must obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements.” After talking with my daughter-in-law for a while, I felt a little better.
In the days that followed, there were more pig farmers in my village whose pigs got infected and died off. Each time I heard such news, I would feel very anxious and then constantly pray to God in my heart, saying, “God, please protect my heart so that I could accept all this from You. No matter whether my pigs die or not, I only beg You to protect my heart so that I wouldn’t complain about You and could obey Your orchestrations and arrangements.” During those few days, I kept praying to God, entrusting this matter to Him and asking Him to free me from the concern and worry for my wealth and personal interests, and enable me to experience this situation with an obedient heart.
Four or five days later, a butcher suddenly came to my home and offered to buy my pigs. Upon hearing this, I was stunned and couldn’t believe that there was someone who still wanted pigs given such a terrible swine fever. When the butcher saw the pigs we raised, he was greatly surprised and asked with wonder, “The epidemic situation is so serious now that others’ pigs all died, but yours have not even got infected. How did you tend to them?” Knowing it was all because of God’s care and protection, I really wanted to testify to him about God’s wondrous deeds, but when I thought that the CCP government was persecuting religious belief and that if my belief in God became known, I would be in danger of being imprisoned, I just replied, “Maybe it was because I have been lighting mosquito incense in the pigsty every night.” Hearing me say this, the butcher said jokingly, “Don’t light mosquito incense for the pigs any longer. You should burn incense to thank God.” Afterward, he got on his truck and drove away. Watching the truck jolting away, I couldn’t help thinking, “Before, I have called many butchers but none of them wanted my pigs. Yet today there was someone who took the initiative to buy my pigs. It was God who opened a way out for me.”
Later, in the days when the epidemic situation was most terrible, there were so many dead pigs that even 9 trucks sent from the city were not enough to contain them. An old lady in her 70s in my village said in astonishment, “I’ve lived for so long but have never seen such a horrible swine fever. It is fairly rare.” After the plague died out, there were only 70 pigs left alive in the five villages nearby, of which 38 were ours, and all the other pigs in my village died. This plague not only killed a large number of pigs, but when it was at its worst, there were people in a neighboring village who got infected and died of fever. Fortunately, my family was all safe and sound, and I knew all this was because of God’s wonderful protection.
This experience allowed me to see that we humans are so small that we would only feel panicked, miserable and helpless when disasters befall, and that none of us or government departments can do anything about it. In the face of disasters, only when we come before God and worship Him can we gain His care and protection and find ease and peace. Only God is the One we can rely on.