Jing Dianying was born into a Confucian family in Mazhuang village, Tai An county, Shandong (Shantung) Province. Educated in Cui Ying (Tsui Ying) Middle School, a Methodist school in Tai An, in 1912. He was baptized when he studied in Cui Ying, but was not converted to the Christian faith until several years later. A few years after his conversion, he was reconciled to his wife, whom he had abandoned some years earlier. She was converted in 1920.
Jing’s Christian faith was greatly influenced by Pentecostalism and he anxiously sought the spiritual gifts. In 1921, he and his wife started a Shengtu She (Saints’ Cooperative Society) on land they owned in Mazhuang. In 1926, he founded the Can Sang Xue Dao Fang (silkworm learning school), where male and female Christians lived a collective life. This led gradually to the formation of a community that later came to be known as the Ye Su Jia Ting (Jesus Family), which eventually had several hundred members gathered into a number of Christian communes. In the l930s and 1940s, Jing, his wife, and others preached the gospel widely and branch Families were established in many provinces. By 1948, there were 127 Families, mostly in the rural areas of North China. When the Three-Self Movement started, Jing led all his Families into the movement. But, in 1952, Mazhuang Jesus Family was taken over by the communist government and the Three-Self movement. Jing was attacked and arrested, and then all Jesus Families were closed by the government. Jing was imprisoned for several years and died in Xi’an in 1957.
- D. V Rees, The “Jesus Family” in Communist China (1959);
- Daniel H. Bays, “Christianity in China, A Case Study of Indigenous Christianity: The Jesus Family, 1927-1952”, Religion, Journal of the KSR, Oct. 1988, Vol.26, No.1.