Ghost House

Our recent move with all its "aches"—head, back, heart: you name it!—has got me thinking about the other times we've done it.  Just how and when and why did I allow myself to accumulate all this stuff, I'd like to know? How utterly un-missionary I've become! It's shocking. 

Our very first move together was easy, of course. After all, we had nothing; as in zilch! Pine boards on cinder block for bookcases and half of a giant telephone cable spool for a coffee table got us started.

I love the way we did our first move to the mission field. We opened our home to the two Bible Study groups that we had been leading and urged everyone to 'take it all'.  What little remained was packed into two 40 gallon oil drums and hoisted onto a cargo ship. 

I have to tell you, just two weeks ago, I was longing for those days once again.  All you dear ones who came down and helped haul it all!—God bless you for that! What a treasure you all are to me! 

By far, the most remarkable 'move' we've ever made was the one we made to the haunted house. It still holds a special place in my heart. 

I had visited the little town of San Yi a few years before, with a team of students, during the winter break. In one tiny village on the outskirts of town—Hsi Hu—we encountered a remarkable openness to the Gospel.  People were serious, attentive and responsive. And these were Hakka people—normally, the most resistant of them all.  

Our real ministry, at that time, was actually up north at Christ's College, but I came back from that outreach convinced that someone should go and establish a preaching point there.  I wrote home to our supporters,  asking them to "pray that God would send someone to San Yi".  Of course I had already dismissed the idea of going myself. The place was too lonely, too distant, too resistant,  too...'immersed'!  After all, I did have a wife and two kids to consider. 

One day in the early spring of 1989, Sharilyn surprised me: "I think God might want us to be the ones."  

"Be what ones?" I asked obtusely. 

"The ones to go. To San Yi." 

I couldn't believe it.  God bless her dear heart. 

We decided to let "housing" be our "fleece". "Let's go down there and see how hard it is to find a place to live." 

So, one Spring morning, there was the Schorr clan, walking the streets of Hsi Hu. After just a few inquiries, half the community had gathered around us; our 'housing' question soon became a community project. 

The first home was a steep two-story affair, and that looked too difficult. The second home had been nicely refurbished, but it had a triangular kitchen which...well...women can be so picky sometimes, can't they?

Back on the street, during further discussion, suddenly one old gentleman stepped up: "I have a house you can stay in for free."  

Wow! That sounded enticing. But as he went on to explain his proposition, one of the ladies stepped up behind me and whispered in my ear: "Nau-gwei! Ni bu yau!"  ("You don't want it. It's haunted!") 

Old Mr. Lai insisted on showing it to us, at least, and so we followed him down a few lanes to the place. It was all boarded up. The interior was a mess. There was a shelf full of idols on the living room wall. The kitchen had an old clay stove in one corner. Oil, filth, and mold covered the bare concrete walls. The "bathroom" consisted of a concrete floor with a drain on one end and a 'hole' at the other. A garden hose had been lavishly provided for both showering and flushing.

There were filthy abandoned pig pens on one corner of our lot. And somebody's grave lay off the south wall, about fifteen feet away. 

Still, the structure was good, the location not bad, and the place had some promise.  It could be fixed up.

The Schorr family was split as we drove the hundred miles back up to the College. Sharilyn and Davey didn't like it at all. I kept suggesting that "this can be done." "Yeah, Mom!" Jamey would chime in, "Just use your imagination."   

"No one has that much imagination," said Mom.  She was especially bothered by the horrible kitchen.

That evening neither of us slept. By morning I had pretty much ruled out the plan. Sharilyn had actually cried all night. But to my shock, the next morning, the first thing I heard her say was: "If you still feel that God is leading you to do this, I'm ready to go" 

"What?" I asked in disbelief. "But...what about the kitchen? And the imagination and all that?"

I will never forget her answer: "I'm not going to stand on Judgment Day and tell the Lord: 'I didn't go because I didn't like the kitchen'."  

God bless her! Remember what Jesus said? "Let him"—or, of course: her!"deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."  Lk 9:23 

You know?  I believe God was greatly pleased with that decision!  Choices like that never go unnoticed! 

These past several weeks, as I kept looking for a new place for her to call 'home',  I kept thinking about how much she had given up over the years.  

Make your choices well, dear ones! God will greatly bless you.

We didn't know it at the time—in fact it took us two years to hear even part of the story—but that house in Hsi Hu, in the eyes of all the community at least, was indeed "haunted". 

But that will have to wait for another Messenger. 


See you Sunday.                                  RAS 

The Things We Do Have!
The Trojan Horse and the American Home