Fable: 牧师和信徒 – The priest and the disciple

The moral of this short story, of course, is that faith burns more brightly the more people share it with each other.

A priest (牧师 mù shī) goes to visit a wayward disciple / believer (信徒 xìn tú) and teaches him a valuable lesson without saying a word. The moral of this short story, of course, is that faith burns more brightly the more people share it with each other.

The source of this story is here.

Some language stuff

Although this is short, there are a couple of tricky phrases in here.

时值冬日 – This one is pretty easy to figure out in the context of the sentence – it means “It was winter time.” The rest of the sentence, of course, talks about how cold it is outside. But 时值冬日 is a more literary way to say “it was winter time” than the much simpler “当时是冬天” or something like that. Let’s look at it word by word:

时 – shí – A shorthand for 时节, or “season”
值 – zhí – This character has many meanings, in this case it means “arrive, happen”
冬 – dōng – Winter
日 – rì – Day(s)

So you could translate this as something like: The days of winter had arrived.

Even more tricky is the phrase 他认为并不一定非要如此, so let’s break this one down as well:

他 – tā – He
认为 – rèn wéi – Believed / thought
并 – bīng – [strengthening word like “most certainly,” “definitely,” “really” – just makes the next word stronger] 不一定 – bù yī dìng- Not necessarily
非要 – fēi yào – Must be
如此 – rú cǐ – This/that way

All together: He believed it really didn’t necessarily have to be that way.

As always, leave a comment if you need something explained.





Show English translation »
A religious disciple did not often attend church activities, so the priest went to visit him. It was winter and the weather was very cold. The priest and the disciple sat by the warm fire. The priest urged the disciple to go meet with other disciples every week, but the disciple didn’t think that was really necessary.

So the priest picked up the tongs beside the stove and separated the coals on the stove one by one. Soon, the red coals dimmed, and the two men [sitting by the fire] were no longer warm.

The disciple then seemed to understand what the priest meant, and became receptive to the pastor’s request.

8 replies on “Fable: 牧师和信徒 – The priest and the disciple”

I think you meant to write 并 as 4th tone bìng. I’m also wondering why the translation choice was priest and then changed to pastor.

This is really good! I’m a G10 IGCSE Chinese student trying to prepare for the final test by reading any Chinese thing I can get my hands on XD, this is the best website I’ve found so far! So many stories, each with definitions, pinyin, and english translations! Thank you so much for the gem!

Hello, I’m a Chinese student. And I want to improve my English by C-E translating. The problem is, I can’t check if my translation sounds natural. So I wonder if anyone wants to learn E-C translation and has the same problem. We can help each other. My email:

Hello! Thank you for this, I got some great vocab from it. I have one question: In the sentence “很快,火红的炭块便暗淡了下来” what is the 便 doing? Is this a typo and 变 is the intended word, or does 便 have a similar meaning that fits in the sentence? The other explanations you gave really helped!

I had the same preoccupation with the presence of 便.
But after checking, the word 便sometimes can just mean 就which can a common word in Chinese that can be left out in most cases.便can also mean :then, in that case, soon afterwards.
So, I think the problem is solved whether you consider it as 就in this context or the other meanings I cited.

I don’t know why I reached this website. But I’m really thankful because now I can prepare HSK 4 from relaxing text to read. Good job, Kendra!

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