(Minghui.org) Ni Shan, also known as Zoutian, lived in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 AD – 1276 AD). He was bright, thrifty, eager to learn and helped the poor.

He went to the capital city to take the imperial examination several times without success. Someone who knew about his charity work commented, “You often offer relief to people in need, yet you were not admitted in the imperial examination. Is Heaven not aware of your charitable deeds?”

Upon hearing that, Ni Shan set higher standards for himself and studied more diligently.

His hometown was hit by a major famine in the fourth year of the Shaoding reign (1231 AD) under Emperor Lizong. Many people starved to death by the roadside. Li Shan fed them porridge; thus, he saved many lives.

The following year he went to the capital again to take the imperial examination. One of his neighbors dreamed that a banner of “Handing out porridge freely accrues merit in one's life” was high above Ni Shan's home.

That year, Ni Shan ranked the top in the imperial examination.