By Suzy Brown
Jennifer and Abe, FamilyLife volunteers and trained Weekend to Remember® Mandarin speakers, have felt the void in the past two years with COVID restrictions and strong religious persecution in their country. But what to do? With the number of divorces reaching over 41% in Shanghai alone, and many people feeling the drift of isolation, they wondered how the Lord might use them since being in-person is still not an option. But with new recent restrictions on religious content, they wondered how they could reach people with the good news that God can help hurting hearts.
Beginning March 1, China established new, tighter regulations for religious internet content. Content not inside the Chinese firewall is not accessible, and any content inside must be approved before broadcasting. Religious content from unapproved sources is banned. This has left the fate of many sites, including the FamilyLife Mandarin site jiatingshenghuo.com, uncertain.
After attending a Weekend to Remember (WTR) when they were a young couple, Jennifer and Abe were blessed by the conference and continued to have a passion to see their own marriage thrive as well as marriages of their friends and coworkers. Over the years they have led many small groups and trainings for marrieds and singles. Their love for the Savior naturally flows out of their relationship, and they long to see others experiencing the goodness of God in their relationships. They are often contacted by others for help in their marriage, and they do a lot of marriage coaching and mentoring.
Last year a city asked them if it were possible to do a video presentation of a WTR. They jumped at the chance and held a live question and answer after the event. In their estimation, it was a very good conference and an easy way to get material and resources out to many in need.
Jennifer pondered how they could continue to do this on a larger scale and began to realize that although they can’t do large group teaching, maybe God could give them another avenue in which to teach. With Abe’s technology and video capability to broadcast, Jennifer had an idea. Why not produce relationship videos that touch on the issues so many are struggling with and then host a chat group to answer questions and follow up?
So began “HuaJie’s video channel.” Abe and Jennifer converted their basement into a broadcasting studio from where they produce relationship videos to be shown online. Because of the March 1 restrictions, they use self-censorship to tailor their videos to have them approved. So far, 30 videos have been approved and uploaded to a public WeChat video channel as well as XiGua (Watermelon), a social media website.
Abe and Jennifer’s mascots are their little black dog, Yoyo, and little white dog, Doudou. Many people tune in to see their dogs and then stay tuned to learn about marriage and life.
Their videos have had 30,000 views in a four-month period. Each video is about 20 minutes long. The target audience is around 30 years old, and roughly 70% are single. Many are non-Christians looking for answers to some of life’s most important decisions. One young man, Mr. Huo, was looking for such answers and stumbled upon the video series. He watched all the videos because he said he felt he deserved a good marriage after dealing with a broken relationship. He said he learned he needed to improve himself and become a better person instead of just looking for the right person.
Within smaller chat groups on WeChat and Watermelon, Jennifer is able to tackle some tough issues and help people find resources they need to improve their relationships as well as tell them about the greatest relationship teacher, Jesus.
Abe and Jennifer consider their training with FamilyLife to be invaluable. The teaching that has most influenced them came from the talk at the WTR called “From Isolation to Oneness.” It has helped them in their marriage, and they want to use what they’ve learned to help others. As they prepare each video as a couple, it helps them to see how together, they reflect God’s image. They want to reflect that in their teaching as they encourage each other to be more like Christ and have a Christ-centered marriage. Their dream for the coming year is that more people will see the videos and experience God’s love.