Barnabas Zhang

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Barnabas Zhang (張巴拿巴 Pinyin: Zhāng Bānábā, 11 February 1882 - 1961), was an early preacher for the True Jesus Church, an indigenous Chinese church. Born in Weixian, Shandong Province, Zhang's former name was Diàn-Jǔ (殿舉) and he worked as a farmer. He was also a collector of antiques.

In 1910, when Diàn-Jǔ was 28 years of age, Ling-Sheng Zhang paid a visit to his village, where he preached sermons concerning repentance and the forgiveness of sins. His wife was moved by the gospel but Diàn-Jǔ originally opposed it. He later repented of his sins and sought for grace.[citation needed]

At dusk of 16 March 1911, while walking in the wilderness, Diàn-Jǔ heard a sound from above saying "Salvation during the last days comes from the east to west; Go and save all nations". He then started prayed on his knees and received the Holy Spirit through glossolalia.[citation needed] Shortly afterwards, Diàn-Jǔ and his whole family were then baptised by Ling-Sheng Zhang. After cultivating their faith for four years, Ling-Sheng laid hands on Diàn-Jǔ as an Elder.[citation needed]

During February 1916, while walking on the road, Diàn-Jǔ again heard a voice saying "You are to head south to preach the gospel, I will give you great powers". On April, he changed his name to Barnabas after revelations by the Holy Spirit.

In 1919 he headed to Southern China, preaching the gospel and establishing numerous True Jesus Church prayer buildings. When preaching, Barnabas was humbly dressed up in normal peasant clothing. Most people believed him, owing to many miraculous signs and wonders attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit such as the casting out of demons and healing fatal illnesses on the sick.[citation needed]

By 1926, he preached to Taiwan and established three churches in 40 days. In 1927 after an invitation from Southeast Asian believers he journeyed to Singapore and what is now Malaysia where he established four churches for the first time.

Later on, Barnabas claimed to be the founder of the church and after a dispute with Isaac Wei (zh), headed to Hong Kong where he declared himself "Bishop" and the head of the Church by setting up his own General Assembly. As a result, he was later excommunicated by the church general coordination board in 1931.[1]

The supporters of Isaac Wei labelled Barnabas as having gone 'insane' during his last years[citation needed] since he and his wife wore clothing which closely resembled that of a Cardinal or Pope during services in the Hong Kong church [2]

Barnabas died in Singapore on 25 January 1961[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kaplan, Steven. (1994) Indigenous Responses to Western Christianity, NYU Press. pp. 136-137. ISBN 0-8147-4649-7.
  2. ^ Photos of Barnabas and his wife posing with their supporters in Hong Kong during the 1930s can still be found in TJC archives.
  3. ^ General Board of the TJM, Part 5:Elder Barnabas died.