Zhang Dengqi and His Bicycle
“Hi, Uncle Zhang, How are you these days? Where have you been recently?”
“Haaa…I’m fine. I just came back from Yunnan. I would like to stay there for another couple of days if not for a reunion with my family in the Spring Festival.”Uncle Zhang’s laughter was infectious to all around him.
As the Spring Festival was coming, some community volunteers came to visit Uncle Zhang, who was a former follower of Falun Gong. When the volunteers learned that Uncle Zhang had just come back from his bicycle trip to Yunnan, they seemed very interested. “Uncle, would you please tell us what you have seen or experienced during the trip?”They sat around the old man, listening to the his story while appreciating the gifts that the old man collected during his trip, such as leaves or stones. The old man shared what he had seen and heard during the trip. The small yard, full of laughter, felt warm in the cold winter.
The old man is Zhang Dengqi, 83 years old. He is a retired worker living in the 10th community in Zhongyuan Oilfield. He is now a key member of the Linhai Biking Team.
Looking at this white-haired and energetic old man, no one could imagine that he was once a follower of Falun Gong, who cared about nothing except the cult. In those days, he had little contact with his neighbors, friends or even his children. He nearly lost his life because of his refusal of medical treatment. He escaped death narrowly because his children forced him to a hospital.
In 2002, Zhang Dengji eventually realized the absurdity of Falun Gong, thanks to the patient instruction and help from his bosses and volunteers. He knew that the so-called devils whom he rejected repeatedly were actually kind and respectable people. He was so moved that he held the hands of volunteers and could not help his tears.
When Zhang Dengji just got rid of Falun Gong, he was still alienated from his former friends and neighbors. In order to help him, community workers often invited him to join in with community activities, such as playing chess. The old man finally enjoyed the activities and a smile came back to his face.
He made friends with his neighbors and joined activities with them. He became a frequent visitor to the square and activity room in his community.
At the end of 2005, a biking team was established in the community. The bikers often went out for trips. Zhang Dengqi wanted to join the team, but his children did not agree because they were worried about his health. The old man came to seek help from community workers. The workers were also concerned about his physical condition. They did not want to disappoint the old man, so they accompanied him to bike in nearby areas.
Zhang Dengji, in his seventies, was old in age but young in mind. He looked equal to young people when he was biking. He had very good endurance. Then community workers persuaded the biking team to admit the old man to short-distance trips. Half a year later, the team admitted the old man as a formal member.
In order to assure his family and community workers, Zhang Dengqi informed community workers when he was about to start a biking trip. When he came back, he shared his experiences with the community workers.
Since 2006, the old man has biked across the country. He has been to several areas by bike, including Daqing in the Northeast, Talimu River in the Northwest, Fuzhou in the Southeast, Guizhou in the Southwest, and Suzhou, Hangzhou, Luoyang, Nanjing, Tianjin and Beijing. But the old man said it was really a pity that he had not been to Tibet. He said with a smile on his face, “Time waits for no man. My next destination is Taiwan. I plan to bike across the island.”