The Pattern Established by the Lord in the Church
The Fruit of the Diligent Laboring
of the Servant of the Lord All His Life
In the winter of 1985, during the memorial meeting for brother Zhanxiang Liu in Taipei, elderly brother Witness Lee stood up and give a testimony. As far as I could remember, these are those words, “Our dear brother Liu was a faithful servant of the Lord as well as the co-worker whom I respect the most, diligently laboring to serve the church all his life. All through these years he had exploited the boundary in the harshest and poorest areas in Taiwan. In Yilan, Hualien, Taitung, and coastal towns, he widely preached the gospel, established churches, and shepherded saints. Today many brothers and sisters from many various places of the province and overseas, who respect and love him and who had been helped by him, to gather together to remember and testify brother Liu’s life-long service. He loved the Lord our God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, becoming the best pattern in the church. Glory be to God.” Then after the concluding of the meeting, brother Lee said casually, “There should be more testimonies in today’s meeting.” At that time I happened to be standing behind him. Although this word was not spoke to me, in my heart it has become a weighty matter which has never gone away and become one that I regret. It was truly the Lord’s mercy that after 30 years I can still give a written testimony for the most respectful uncle Liu as long as I am alive, so that I can make up the flaw and regret before.
Brother’s Centennial Celebration,
Is a Half Century Retrospect for me
Brother Zhanxiang Liu’s centennial birthday celebration, is a half century retrospect for me. About how I first met uncle Liu remains fresh in my memory even now. In the spring of 1953, our family of five people took Sichuan Ship from Hong Kong to settle in Taiwan. My eldest brother was admitted to Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School, and I also entered the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University. Younger sister Jinzhen joined a class in the middle of the course in Sisi Primary School. At that time the life in Taiwan was impoverished, and it was the very tough times. Especially I grew up in favorable condition since childhood. Being young and ignorant, I considered that everything around was backwater and not good enough. I was full of complaints in the heart, thinking about why we moved to such a backward place, and never thankful for the sacrifice that my parents made for the education of their children.
Perhaps He Is the “Strange Old Codger”
My Classmates Speak of
One day on the way that I rode to the school every day, I met uncle Liu the first time. Until today I can still clearly remember the scene of that day. He was riding an old bicycle made in Czech. We rode in the opposite direction and brushed past each other. To my surprise, he wore a big white coat (many years later it was formally named the gospel vest), with the word judgment on the chest and the large word sin on the back, which stood out especially to the eyes. Just this glance, I suddenly thought: was it possible that he was the “strange old codger” in the rumors among classmates? I would confirm this after I came back to school. However, in the school another one was given the nickname “the preacher”, which was perfectly justifiable. He was brother Benjamin Chen classmates the senior. For many years I didn’t know what sage he was, that with just the identity of a student, could borrow the chemistry laboratory as the place for the gospel preaching. Whenever there was a gospel meeting, “the preacher” would definitely stand at the door of the classroom, and it was always at the time for eating bentos, which was truly awkward. If we were going to eat, he wouldn’t leave. But if we won’t going to eat, we would have to go with him. When a school semester ends, he would always arrange classmates to have baptism conversation in Taipei Hall 1. As the seniors told me, the interview was not horrible, because brother Chen was normally skillful in teaching. During each period when the elders had interview and oral test, one could certainly gave answers to all questions, and the answers were standard ones. Once passed, he would be immediately baptized. However, do not think that all was at peace after the baptism, what’s coming is the most terrifying thing, that was, that the “strange old codger” outside the school would invite you to the meeting. He would pray with you, which was most unthinkable.
At Once He Says to me “Let’s Kneel Down to Pray”
Not unexpectedly, one day when I left school, on the one hand we “met by chance”, and on the other hand, it can be said that he “deliberately arrested” me. I was really brought by him to Sanzhangli, the business office of the Hall 6 in Taipei. At once he said to me, “We kneel down to pray.” I thought, “How can I? From my childhood, I have read many novels about martial artists and knight-errants in my grandfather’s study, and so always compared myself to a young hero, rather bleed than weep, never mind telling me to kneel down.” However, to my surprise, brother Liu (after the baptism I changed to addressing him as brother Liu) had extraordinary power beyond ordinary people’s imagination that he not only let me kneel down but caused me to weep, to repent, and confess my sins. On that very day I myself experienced the reality of being born of water and the Spirit mentioned in John 3:5.
I Listened to His Admonishment
and Eventually Finished College while Working Part-Time
After my salvation, both in spiritual matters and relationship with others, the teaching and help I got from brother Liu was countless. Ever since I was little, I was not a good student, also I suffered serious asthma in my childhood, I received more coddling from my parents and less disciplining. I always got bad scores in examinations in school. The student affair’s center always gave announcement: “Classmate Jinming, please come to the student affair’s office for a conversation after class.” This was the norm. Besides, I always acted like a tough hero outside of school, causing crowd gathering disturbances. So I was long since regarded by the school as a stubborn delinquent who was kept in school but placed under surveillance. At that time brother Liu often visited me in school, admonished me repeatedly, and often brought me to the meeting on weekends. Then I totally changed and even became a model student on the honor roll. Even my mother looked at me with a whole new view and renamed me “Jin Buhuai”(which means, Not being exchanged even for gold). Concerning the university entrance exam, I was one who refused to take the exam. Before the exam I even could not find my admission card, making my mother so enraged to almost faint. However, a word from brother Liu, changed my mind. He said, “If you would serve the Lord and serve the church, you should complete your college education.” I received his admonishment and eventually finished the college while working part time. Concerning the matter of serving the Lord, I even more received his leading step by step. He often brought me to preach the gospel in the fishing villages of Dachen compatriots in Suao. The two of us, wearing the gospel vests, walked on the mountain road, and at the same time, he talked about characters, history, and miracles in the Old Testament, enlightening me concerning the Bible. When we arrived at the fishing village, he preached with Zhejiang accent, and I sang hymns with loud voice. That was the time I had started serving the Lord. Later when I joined in the gospel group of the church and led the hymn singing on the music platform in the new park in Taipei, even the sister, who worked in the office building of the Zhongxin bureau on the Qingdao East Road, could hear the voice of the singing and asked who is this “man with loud voice”?
Service in the Church Should Have Diligence
as an Ox on One Hand, and the Transcendence
as an Eagle on the Other Hand
I remembered that one year concerning a college students’ conference in summer, I could not register because of not meeting requirements. After brother Liu knew this, he made a demand on brother Liu Sui, the responsible one of the conference at that time, that I was permitted to audit in exchange of my service. The service consist of filling the water vats that would be used for washing in the morning, during the midnight before. Therefore, at midnight every day I got up to fetch water, however, more than willing. Moreover, I was deeply impressed and full of enjoyment with the messages in the conference—The Vision in Ezekiel. Meanwhile, I kept singing the new hymn written by brother Lee. This conference also let me know that the service in the church should be like Brother Liu’s example, have diligence as an ox on the one hand, and the transcendence as an eagle on the other hand.
Hearing the Small Voice Inward
and Obeying the Tender Feeling Inward
My impression of brother Liu’s appearance was: He was short in stature, dark-skinned with bright piercing eye, not talkative and stoic, however, humorous on occasion. Every time when he fellowshipped with me about his life experience and spiritual experience toward the Lord, I as the junior was subdued and benefited a lot. My mother often said, “I like to listen to brother Liu’s releasing messages on the podium. It is like listening to brother Watchman Nee’s preaching in Shanghai back in those days, speaking slowly, sentence by sentence, into the people.” Concerning this statement, according to my analysis, the reason that bother Nee preached slowly because of the insufficiency of his physical constitution from suffering tuberculosis. At that time I thought my judgment was correct, but until now I have begun to realize that I was truly a layman concerning the spiritual matters back then. Once brother Liu privately told me a portion of his testimony in his youth. Once upon a time in the countryside, everyone went to the city for a market fair. When he just entered the gate, there was suddenly a small voice inward to urge him kneel down to pray. But at the time people were everywhere in the streets, so it felt extremely awkward. However, he immediately obeyed the inward feeling and knelt down to pray. After that he was inwardly full of joy, peace, satisfaction, and glory. He said to me that the life of a Christian lay in learning to hear the small voice of the Lord inward and to obey the tender feeling inward. At that time after I heard this word and this short testimony, I was attracted and willing to learn to seek what brother Liu had experienced. On the eve just before I married sister Sulan, my mother bought us a pair wedding rings. I obeyed the inward feeling and got the shifu in the jewelry store to carve the words Christ and the Church on the inner side of the rings. Until now we have been married for more than 40 years, and whenever we mentioned this thing, my wife, who seldom complimented me, would even said that I had spiritual understanding. She didn’t know that all these were taught by brother Liu. Whenever brother Liu officiated the wedding of brothers and sisters, he would mention that the marriage was the symbol of Christ and the Church. Those who could testified Christ and the Church in the real marriage life were truly blessed by God. Now I also set family instruction for my children: “Let Christ decide on significant and unsearchable things and everything, and the Lord will take the responsibility; if you decide, you will take the responsibility.”
As for Me and My House, We Will Serve Jehovah
I remember that after brother Liu got a stroke, he moved to Shipai, Taipei for rehabilitation near the Veterans’ General Hospital. During that period, I went to visit him many times with my wife. Later in every conference I also saw that he attended the meeting in a wheelchair, never absent, which deeply encouraged me.
In 1984, my whole family decided to immigrate to the U.S. Before starting off, my mother invited brother Liu to our home for a gathering and also invited brother Xu Yuwen, who served in the deacon office in the 1st meeting hall, to have him accompany us. After the lunch we visited the Chiang Kai-shek memorial hall together. It was drizzling all day, I pushed uncle Liu in the wheelchair to go around along the corridor. My feeling of gratitude was more than words toward brother Liu who loved me just as his own son. Unexpectedly, it was the last time seeing him, and I was filled with a thousand of regrets. Recalling the day of the memorial meeting, my mother-in-law and I were both sad beyond ourselves, which engraved in our hearts. The testimony of the brother Liu in the church all his life was as a cloud surrounding us, not only leading us forward, but also encouraging us that we may hold the faith to Jesus, endure to the end of our life, and serve Jehovah throughout generation onto generation.
Witness: brother Ming Jin, sister Sulan Wu
January 27, 2016