Memories of Uncle Liu Who Served Us
as a Nourishing Mother and an Exhorting Father
Being Cherished, Cultivated, Guided
and Perfected by Him for Many Years
At the end of 1960s, bother Zhanxiang Liu came again to serve in Hualien and Taitung. At that time I lived in Fenglin and studied in the Girls’ Middle School in Hualien as a dorming student. Every Lord’s day morning I went through the campus, past Huagang Mountain to the meeting hall on the Mingli Road. That day when I went into the students’ meeting at half past six in the morning, uncle Liu was standing in the front, leading a hymn. That was the first time I met him. From that day on I had been cherished, cultivated, guided, and perfected by him for many years, which was truly the boundless mercy of the Lord!
If You Read through the Bible Ten Times,
the Lord Has to Use You
Uncle Liu spoke for the Lord concisely and strongly, like the living water flew from the throne; the meeting, were as if we were sitting before the Lord and listening to His speaking. Once in a young people’s conference he said, “The whole Bible has 1189 chapters. If you read three chapters of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New Testament every day, you can read through the Bible in one year. If you read through the Bible in one year, you can read through the Bible ten times in ten years. If you read through the Bible ten times, the Lord have to use you.” His last sentence caught me. When I was little and read the brief biography of Darby, Spurgeon, Fenny, Evans, etc., which was published in the early days of the Gospel Bookroom, I admired that they could be used by the Lord. Now uncle Liu said to us, “If you read through the Bible ten times, the Lord have to use you.” After serious consideration before the Lord, I began the practice of reading four chapters of the Bible every day. After ten months, I finished reading the Bible for one time. When I told uncle Liu, he was all smile and said, “Read it again”. This has become a practice all my life and also the biggest blessing I’ve received from the Lord.
Practicing Pray-reading Groups during Naptime
Uncle Liu told us the practice that his two sons, Chen-Shi and Li-Shi, practiced the pray-reading group on lunch break in No.1 Middle School in Taichung. Hearing this, we were greatly encouraged so as to practice the same in the Girls’ Middle School in Hualien. Every day after the lunch more than ten sisters, took the pocket Bible, walked from their classrooms to a corner in the campus to enjoy God’s word by pray-reading. At that time Jiali Yang, still a gospel friend, came with her classmate, sister Yuan Guifen, and became soon after became a sister. Later she brought another classmate Shulan Chen to be saved. At last the whole family of sister Jiali was saved. Many years later in the U.S., her daughter married the son of sister Ming-Shi. Sister Guifen, a permanent resident in the U.S., once revisited Hualien together with her mother and son, and went specially to the campus of the Girls’ Middle School in Hualien, saying to her son, “This is the place where your mom pray-read with sisters in those days.”
It was especially tasteful to listen to uncle Liu’s speaking God’s word. Once he mentioned John 2:12, “After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they remained there not many days.” He wondered why such ordinary words were written in the Bible? But then he pondered that even though those were ordinary days, they became memorable because of the presence of the Lord. Also, John 21:25 says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose that not even the world itself could contain the books written.” He wondered why even the world could not contain them. Then he got the answer: this is because the Lord is unlimited. When I talked with him about the thing that the drillmaster in the school advocated our joining the party, he said that among the disciples of the Lord was a Simon the Zealot (Matt.10:4).But he didn’t say if I should join the party, leaving it for me to inquire of the Lord.
But That the Works of God Might be Manifested in Him
He gave each one of us a card, on which was printed: “spring flowers blossom again; green grass grows new; but they are no longer the ones of last year. The scenery before the eyes, though momentary, should be valued.” He asked brother Xiao, who guarded the meeting hall and was skilled in calligraphy, to add: “’Now’ is the time of God” (2 Cor. 6:2). Obviously his intention was to exhort us that now it was time to love the Lord. He encouraged us to speak for the Lord in the meeting instead of not speaking purposely. Under his leading, the whole church entered into the flow of consecration. It was after the conference held by brother Xiangze Zhang and his wife from Taichung, that I received the laying on of hands the first time to consecrate myself to the Lord. Later there was the laying of hands and prayer once again in Hualien and Taitung. Uncle Liu said that those who were ill and graduates of the current year should receive the laying of hands and prayer, which would supply them even if the disease was not cured. That day when it was my turn, uncle Liu prayed, “It is not because of sin but that the works of God might be manifested in him.” From then on John 9:12 has brought me continuous supply.
In the early years the transportation in the east was inconvenient. Among the co-workers, uncle Liu experienced most problems in traveling. Once he led a group of us across mountains to Taichung to attend young people’s conference through the Cross-Island Highway. He also led us to Taipei to attend the conference of the whole Taiwan through the thrilling Su-Hua Highway. These broadened our spiritual horizon and mind. That time we took Jinma to Taichung. Uncle Liu knew I am prone to get car sick, so he arranged me to sit beside him, which was easy for him to take care of me. While the car was running through high mountains, I only heard that uncle Liu, next to me, was fellowshipping with the Lord. He sang tenderly, “Savior, lead me up the mountain, where the Lord alone is seen…” (hymn 378).
He Walked Alone in the Way of the Lord,
Feared Not the Cold Wind, nor Hot Summers,
and Faithfully Followed the Footsteps of Jesus the Nazarene
The footprints of uncle Liu’s service were all over Hualien and Taitung, and everywhere was his work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope. He lived in Hualien for one week, and in Taitung for the next week. During the period he also went to villages and towns such as Fenglin, Guangfu, Yuli, etc., to visit Saints and lead meetings. For example, on Wednesday afternoon, he went to Fenglin from Huanlien by diesel train. After getting off, he went to sister Zheng’s house to borrow a bicycle. From the town, he rode on a gravel road for two or three kilometers and arrived at the meeting hall near the Veterans’ Hospital in Fenglin to have meanings with a group of veteran brothers. Then he went back to the meeting hall in the town (he said that it was the smallest meeting hall in the whole Taiwan) to gather with another group of brothers and sisters. In the meeting he led the hymn singing, read the Bible, gave messages, etc. When he took the night train back to Hualien, it was already late at night. He walked alone in the way of the Lord, not fearing cold wind or hot summers, and faithfully followed the footsteps of Jesus the Nazarene.
In 1970s I went to the college in Taitung. When I came back to Hualien during winter and summer vacation, I got hospitality in the meeting hall for several times, and aunt Liu personally cooked. Dining with them was just as dining with the Lord, and the warm and sweet scene always appeared in my heart. One day uncle Liu asked me to give testimony in the gospel meeting. Although I was frightened and shaking in the process, that was very good perfecting to me. Once when the opening of the school was near at hand, uncle Liu went to Fenglin to have a meeting and specially devoured to the alley of my house, saying that he would buy for me the ticket to Taichung lest I went for it one more time. Previously, after my father got a stroke because of the busy work when he was 46, my mother went north to work for our family livelihood. We remembered in our heart all the caring of uncle Liu to our family.
Every Stroke Was Not Easy for Him to Write,
so I Would Hang On to Each and Every Word
One day in Taichung I heard that uncle Liu got a stroke. Not knowing more, I wrote a letter to greet him, and soon received his reply written with his left hand, which was his new exercise. Between the lines flew the endurance produced in tribulations and word of grace abounded in illness and pains. Later, on account of the convenience of going to the doctor, uncle Liu moved from Hualien to the neighborhood of the 14th meeting hall in Taipei. Several years after that, we missed much but little chance to meet.
It was five years since I had come back to my alma mater as a teacher after graduation. One day I received a letter that uncle Liu sent to the school, and it was still the handwriting of the left hand. Reading the letter was like seeing the person. I replied to him, “It seems too long since our parting, but it is also as if we had never parted. In the heart is a kind of joy of remembering one and also being remembered.” A few days later when I attended a conference in Hualien, I received the letter from uncle Liu and he said, “In the fellowship in the last letter, in my heart I was filled with great joy, which was rare. I was thinking why we haven’t had such fellowship in the past eight years. In many years since that, we had kept in contact through letters. Every stroke was not easy for him to write, so I would hang on to each and every word. Those stacks of letters were undoubtedly special grace from the Lord, in which was exhortation, encouragement, comfort, teaching…
Once I delayed to reply due to a cold, and he knew and wrote, “He whom the Lord loves is sick” (John 11:3). Another time, I passed by several villages and towns by train to visit his hospitalized youngest son, he, shedding silent ears, wrote, “Since God delights in these tears, why he would wipe them?” And he also said, “In asmuch as you have done it to one of these, the least of my brothers, you have done it to me” (Matt.25:40). During those years when I coordinated with the couple of Chen-Shi and Yen-Chin in the literature work in the Bookroom, he had much encouragement, support, and expectation on this aspect. If there was not enough time, one engineer, respectful brother Huaying Lin, in the Veteran’s General Hospital would write letters on his behalf. For several times I went to his home in Shipai to hear his fellowship. On the wedding day of brother Li-Shi, he fasted and had with me a conversation of sincere words and earnest wishes with me
To Each One of Us as a Father to His Own Children
When my father was suspected to get a stroke the second time, he lived in the Veterans’ Hospital in Fenglin and the pain was unbearable when his head ached. The application to transfer to the Veterans’ General Hospital in Taipei was always unsuccessful, so our families felt quite worried. I mentioned this in my letter to uncle Liu. Unexpectedly, he fellowshipped with brother Yuxun Wang, a doctor in the Veterans’ General Hospital., Although we were not acquainted with brother Wang, he instructed us to directly visit him. With the addition of brother Huaying Lin’s assistance, my father successfully moved into the Veterans’ General Hospital and his most serious headache was cured. That day aunt Liu brought uncle Liu in the wheelchair to visit my father in his ward, which greatly moved my father and us. When my father discharged from hospital, he specially wrote a letter to uncle Liu to express his thanks for all his service. A little earlier than this, I send a small card written in Chinese calligraphy: “Love never falls away.”
My first young sister seldom meet, but uncle Liu was still concerned for her. Previously, when he worked in various places, one day he had dinner in the diner at the roadside and read in the newspaper an article titled The Heart of a Loving Mother, which exactly described my mother going out to toil for the family. Uncle Liu showed it to me later and it turned out to be the article that my sister had contributed. After uncle Liu arrived at Shipai, he also wrote to her. He said that a good impression of one time became the good impression of a lifetime, and that she was a sleeping horse. He also gave her the Bible as a gift. My sister replied, “Although I am a sleeping horse, once waking up, I will run a thousand miles.” Uncle Liu cared about if my sister would mind about the writing with his left hand. However, how could it be? My father also used his left hand to write letters after the stroke. No matter whose letter of the two we received, besides touching their heart as the father, we would feel incomparable intimate. In a letter to me, he said, “You are truly a child who is shown mercy.” In the Lord he was to us both our father and mother. It is just as 1 Thes. 2:7 and 11 says, “But we were gentle in your midst, as a nursing mother would cherish her own children…Just as you know how we were to each one of you, as a father to his own children, exhorting you and consoling you and testifying.”
A Faithful Servant of the Lord,
Knowing only the Pouring, Not the Drinking,
Desiring only the Breaking, Not the Keeping
That summer when uncle Liu suffered from gastric cancer and was hospitalized, sister Yen-Chin took me by motorcycle to visit him in hospital. Uncle Liu in bed seems weak in my sight. However, recalling the past, I still clearly remembered his solemn expression when he went to the meeting holding the Bible that he had read for countless times, his strong appearance when he ministered the word, of which every word was spirit and every sentence was life, and his laboring figure when he went to remote villages to serve brothers and sisters. My mother said that he loved the Lord deeply and also suffered deeply. However, I saw his pleasant smile when he mentioned that brother Samuel read through the New Testament in ten days in his third grade in elementary, that brother Li-Shi consecrated himself to the Lord in a conference in his high school, and that sister Ming-Shi’s child was good at telling stories at that young age. If someone asked me what kind of person uncle Liu was, I will testify that he was a faithful servant of the Lord, and the one who knew only the pouring, not the drinking, and desires only the breaking, not the keeping. Half of a century has passed; although many people and things have fade away and I myself have been over 60, my remembrance to uncle Liu has been newer as time went by. Whenever I remembered him, I would naturally thought of hymn 472:
Many crowd the Savior’s kingdom,
Few receive His cross;
Many seek His consolation,
Few will suffer loss.
For the dear sake of the Master,
Counting all but dross,
For the dear sake of the Master,
Counting all but dross.
Many sit at Jesus’ table,
Few will fast with Him,
When the sorrow-cup of anguish
Trembles to the brim.
Few watch with Him in the garden,
Who have sung the hymn,
Few watch with Him in the garden,
Who have sung the hymn.
Many will confess His wisdom,
Few embrace His shame.
Many, should He smile upon them,
Will His praise proclaim;
Then, if for a while He leave them,
They desert His name,
Then, if for a while He leave them,
They desert His name.
But the souls who love Him truly,
Let woe come or bliss,
These will count their dearest hearts’ blood
Not their own, but His.
Savior, Thou who thus hast loved me,
Give me love like this,
Savior, Thou who thus hast loved me,
Give me love like this.
February 24, 2016