His Silhouette—a Runner All in
I have never seen Dad run. But I don’t know how, the impression that he has left in my heart, wherever he is, doing what, but it all melds into the same silhouette—he is running! Running forward! My father is an absolute runner! One that runs forth with all his might! Even his illness in the end, is another kind of running. The word “retreat” does not exist in his dictionary. His race might not be perfect, but the Lord never asked for perfection, the Lord only asked us to run with all our might.
My childhood years with my parents is moving and more moving. The same time that the Lord trains them, also trained me. Concerning moving and dealing with new environments, I cultivated a certain response: to face it! He is a soldier of Christ Jesus, serving in the heavenly army, goes wherever there’s a need; but in the process, he always raised us children the best he could, willingly let us older brother and younger sister get the best education possible. His generation has a difficult environment, being able to live thru it is already quite difficult, there was no one that taught him how to raise children, but he truly did all that he can! Two things for example. One is learning to speak the National Language (Mandarin). He absolutely did not know Bopomofo, yet he felt that his own Shanghai accent is not enough to be used by the Lord, and paid attention to how I pronounce words. My knowledge of Bopomofo is from him raising me. The first thing he does when I got home from kindergarten, is to open the newspaper, circle out the Bopomofo of several words, and have me read it to him (he can’t pronounce it correctly, but he knows if it’s pronounced correctly or not), then have me practice writing these words on the newspapers margins. Now, I can speak Chinese clearly, is because of him. Though the process back then was quite boring but nurtured another response of mine: do the important things first.
I can also play some piano, enjoy some of the release from music, and then even joining the piano service, is all thanks to Dad. Taiwan over fifty years ago there’s rarely people that know how to play the piano, and the hymn singing in meetings mostly ended up singing off tune without instruments. But Dad has a heart’s desire: hoping that I can meet the need of the piano service. When I was five, he found a sister that knows the piano to teach me, and we go to the meeting hall to practice the piano. Though we often moved, he would keep on finding new piano teachers for me, insisting that though my piano lessons would “stop” but will “continue”. My parents didn’t understand music theory, in addition to how boring the process of piano practice was, that’s why I often stop practicing. He always tries to encourage me with words, using a really adorable way, this is collecting all the props for playing house. Every time I left the piano teacher’s home, he would take five-year old me to a little store, buying a little shovel one day, and buying a small teapot the next… Mom gets off work late, so seeing me practice the piano is also Dad’s business. Usually after school, he would take me to the meeting hall for piano practice. I especially remember being at the old Hall Three of the Church in Taipei, with an old piano in a little Japanese styled room near the main entrance. I often stop playing, to see Dad there—he had his Bible, going around the garden, reading while exercising, using his special presence to be with me. That silhouette, I remember like it was yesterday…
Dad is very thoughtful. I slacked off a lot while I was first year in high school, often went to sleep before packing my bag for school, and throw everything in the next morning, one time I yelped: “Oh crap! My red and blue pens ran out of ink!” And went out to school. After I got home, even I forgot the matter of my pens, but I see several pens lying on my table, even the brand is what I often use. At that moment, my heart felt so warm, due to knowing that there’s someone that puts your smallest needs in their heart and acted upon it! Second year in high school, I met the Lord again, started to love the Lord in school, and preached the gospel. Last year in high school, it just so happens that there are ten high school senior sisters, we started the only high school senior sisters’ house in Taiwan, using the old Hall Three of the Church in Taipei. The stress of testing for high school seniors are harsh, I also have to take care of the living of the sisters that I live with, we started to have some spiritual fellowship. I complained to him that I cannot obey, he simply helps me by saying: “a fair situation, even an unbeliever can accept, there is no point to talk of obedience; only when we felt that the environment is unreasonable, only then there is the matter of obedience—that is the obedience of Jesus Christ. The Lord Himself also learned (expressed) His inward obedience to sovereign Father God, thru suffering.” These few sentences moved away the clouds upon my heart, and those words became lifelong help to me. As a result, I really want to now and experience Jesus Christ, the Son of God, desire to grow from “children” to “son”.
Dad has such a character, which is improvement. Men all have limits, but he often thought: how to not have his own lacing get in the Lord’s way? He did his best to seek breakthroughs. The era that he was born into was an interesting time, the environment he grew up in is poor and cold, his parents are illiterate farmers, once he finished elementary school, he went to relatives’ place in Dongbei to learn to be a carpenter (much like the Lord’s childhood). Then the Second Sino-Japanese War begin, Dongbei became Manchukuo, where livelihood got so poor that they had nothing to eat, especially since he is living under someone else’s roof. So, when he met the Lord in Taiwan, for the Lord that he so loved, he had such a desire, willing pay all the price to transcend himself! When I was learning Bopomofo, he treated me as a little teacher. He was over forty then, and willingly went to study at the only English cram school in Taiwan, learning English from ABCD. As long as he is at home, his reading of English out loud does not stop. When I majored in English later, became an English Teacher, he asked me to teach him proper English grammar. I only said: “Dad, you don’t need grammar, because the goal of language is for communication, you can communicate better than so many people in English major!” For being able to go abroad and attend the international training and fellowship, he raised his education level. He went to study in a theological seminary. The whole process is physically and mentally exhausting, and that’s before even the torment that came from hearsay and rumors. At the age of sixty-four, he bravely went to South America, started to learn Spanish, how to speak Spanish. These things can be summed up with a quote of Brother Watchman Nee: “Asking nothing of himself, asking all for the Lord.”
Breakthrough is not merely a beginning, but also something to be maintained. Dad has a kind of “eyeing the goal and running forward” attitude. He truly knows the importance of “exercise”, especially the exercise of the body and the exercise of the spirit. Since his youth, he’s experienced death (younger brother died young), growing process involve leaving his hometown, wandering, so his personality is sensitive and melancholic, his health (stomach and intestines) gets ruined. At the age of forty-one, after the second huge bloody emesis, he not only received God’s healing, but gotten God’s reminder, to completely understand himself and that he must put his mind on the spirit, only then is there peace in life. That is why he attentively exercised his spirit, thru the Lord’s word and His name, to calm down his chaotic mind and weak emotions. This is his life hack, and his lifelong practice. Because his constitution is weak, he knows that to serve God in this “temple” requires exercising the body, with it’s numerous benefits. Which is why when my parents came to live with me, every morning while brushing your teeth, we hear sounds saying, “Lord! I love you!” that’s when the family knows that grandpa is awake. Then he would exercise in the living room, pray-reading and reading out loud while doing some exercises. In these last eleven and a half years living at Chiayi, whenever there are no meetings, he would go exercise at the park in the mornings and afternoons for an hour. He accepts his own weakness, but exercises attentively, does his best to not let his weakness to become a limitation.
The Spirit and the word bring him the power and clarity from the Lord. During the process of serving in various localities, there is often the need to build meeting halls or training center, the Lord thru his cooperate can achieve these glorious miracles. He lived the kind of life in the spirit filled with fellowship with the Lord, so he has a kind of sense, especially towards clearing about people’s salvation. The last three years Mom lived in the breathing care center, Dad would go visit her every day in the morning and afternoon. Every time he went, he would hold her face, staying nonstop: “You’re so beautiful! I love you so!” Then read the daily bible verse to Mom, and tell her of his latest burden, pray beside her year, before leaving. The doctors and nurses in the hospital were all amazed, touched at such divine and gentle expression of feelings…Dad then spoke of the gospel towards the general practitioner, and have his morning revival companions to intercede for them, visit, open the home for love feasts, that is how Doctor Huang became a brother in the Lord! Those three years, in the process of visiting mom, he often goes to a certain pharmacy to buy medicine. Once, one pharmacist especially came out after him, worrying over him, “Old man, your hearing is not good, be careful when you ride your moped.” His spirit immediately had a feeling: “this person need to be saved! Which is why he prayed for her, and have the vital group coordinate contact, the Lord let him bear another fruit! This is Dad. Unless his constitution really can’t meet it, he would always sere people on the front line: preaching the gospel, have morning revival, vital group…
The runner in the race, their feet can only lead them towards one goal, the heart can only pay attention to one thing. The runner has to be in charge but running as a “servant” is different—there are some time to be in charge, there are times to let go. But his focus has never changed, the way and time to get to it, he is flexible about it. Sometimes it is “success is not up to me”. For the Lord, he can lay up his strength, time, money and service on this earth; but if the Lord want him to leave, change camp, go on a trip, he is willing to sent it aside, remember that he himself is a servant, for the good pleasure of the one that recruited him as soldier. And no matter where, though he has a kind of hidden fellowship before the Lord, but there is only one image when living before men, and never need to cover up. What he has led, he would first walk onto it himself. I myself can testify concerning the material offerings for building the meeting halls, Mom and Dad always pursued together and searched for practical ways to offer something up; exercising morning revival, he can have morning revival companions in a day since these many decades; on the exercise of the vital groups, he can be a vital companion with anyone, allowing the Spirit to act freely. Just like stanza 4 in hymn: “Wherever in the world I am, in whatso’er state, I have a fellowship with hearts to keep and cultivate; And a work of lowly love to do for the Lord on whom I wait.”
In 2012, in the last few months of mom’s illness, Dad has also been diagnosed by the doctor for his condition as well. This chronic condition slowly sapped away all of his ability. The first four years of illness he was still fine, but how hard the last year was! He had much tears and regrets. The illness tested his body and psyche so… He often says, “Every day is hard to bear, but praise the Lord, every day has passed by.” This word also taught me: Life every day well. I cannot be by him every day, Thank the Lord being within him to empower him, prepared a really exceptional Indonesian CNA without, and have the saints supporting hi like family. Due to witnessing this testimony these four years, his Indonesian nurse assistant also believe in the Lord, she often prayed, while dad was hospitalized he even preached the gospel to the nurses! This is yet another fruit of Dad’s! Even though I try to come back to stay with Dad for a month every three or four months, it’s not enough. Thank the Lord for such an environment for me this past year, that I can have one week every month, to go back to Chiayi to be with Dad. The Lord is a merciful Father, that I can be besides Dad every day for the last six weeks; he is also a comforting God, so that Dad can run to meet his Lord midst the hymns and encouragements of his daughter and son-in-law! I as the daughter, though I am willing to do my best, there’s too much that I cannot do, just the opportunity is past… I can only wait until that day when I will meet him again, and learn from his example, and run my own race!
I often bow my head to the Lord for what He has not given to Dad—no good background, no good education, no steady upbringing, no healthy body, no parents nor children beside him; I often thank the Lord for what He has given him—a melancholic and sensitive personality, a weak constitution, hearing the gospel while in the hospital, the touching and calling of the Holy Spirit, the will to serve the Lord for his whole life, genuinely love for his wife, the personality that is willing to improve and breakthrough his limits, and following the leading by picking up his tent. What the Lord has given, in addition to what the Lord has not given, are all from the Lord’s good will—the Lord really know what He was doing! I can see a testimony of God and man walking together upon Dad. When man has a clean healthy response to God, this man’s existence, regardless of where he has, can become a blessing. Dad’s ninety-three years of life, is truly and completely God’s masterpiece! All I can do is worship and praise Him: it is not by power, not by ability, but by the Spirit of Jehovah, only then can something of lasting value can be accomplished!