Never in Vain!

This much I've learned: that God will gladly use anyone, of any stature and station, to reach the lost. Doesn't that dear woman-at-the-well bear this out best of all? She brought her entire town to the Gospel, as I mentioned last week. 

I've learned this also: that nothing we do to help reach the lost is ever done in vain. No matter how small or ordinary or even insignificant it might seem—a simple statement made, a prayer offered, a verse of Scripture shared—it may seem inconsequential at the moment, but—oh, count on it dear ones!—it will be used by a mighty God. So...keep on, dear soldier! Keep sharing your faith, any way you can. And don't even try to determine if it is 'significant' or not! 

I learned this lesson in a most powerful way from a young college kid named Alan Huang.  Alan was one of my students at Christ's College and, together with an entire team of students, we had traveled to the town of Dong Shih: one of the tough, hard-to-reach Hakka towns in central Taiwan. 

One day, right in the middle of the week, Alan came to me with a request: "Teacher Su," he said (yeah, I know—you should have heard my big brother, Rick, when he learned that my name was Su), "Teacher Su, my Grampa is dying of cancer and he doesn't know the Lord! Please! I need you to come and make him a Christian before he dies!"  Oh! I was churning big-time with that! I did not want to do this thing! I wasn't much of a pastor back then. A death-bed in English would would be difficult for me, but in Mandarin? Or Hakka? What would I say?  How could I ever do this? I thought about correcting Alan's soteriology (doctrine of salvation) but there was that sweet pleading face! 

So I just said: "Okay. Let's go." 

I hadn't known, until just then, that Alan was a resident of Dung Shih. In fact, he was the one who had organized the outreach. His family owned a little laundry shop on the other side of town. 

As we rode together in the taxi, nothing Alan said about the case added to my confidence. "Now, Grampa's never heard the Gospel teacher, not a word of it before. That will have to be your job. I could never do it, he would never listen to me: I'm just a grandson. You are a teacher. I thought he might listen to you! 

Grampa Huand was an old Confucianist: quite a scholar in his day. He had all the old Chinese classics lining the walls. Confucianists are supposed to have a lot of respect for teachers. So I guess that was Alan's point. 

"Oh, by the way," Alan piled this on: "Grampa can't talk either. Esophageal cancer, you see. He'll just have to listen to you." 

"Great!" I thought to myself! The task looked utterly impossible to me. We made our way down the back alleys of the west side of town, where the river flows by, and then we stepped into an old Chinese dry-cleaning shop that looked as if it had been established in the Ming Dynasty. 

We pushed our way through a beaded curtain and into a room that smelled like death. There was Grampa Huang, lying on the bed. The grieving family thanked me for coming and then left us alone with him. 

Alan spoke first, explaining who I was and why I had come: "Grampa. My teacher has come. He wants to tell you about Jesus."

I was relieved, at least, that Alan spoke that in Mandarin. Of course, I should have known: Grampa was a "scholar": he would know Mandarin. So, I wouldn't have to fumble around with my Hakka at least. 

But is there anyone more resistant to the Gospel than an old, tradition-bound Confucian scholar? I glanced around at all the books on the shelves. They filled every wall! For eighty-plus years, Grampa Huang had surrounded himself with Chinese tradition. Tradition that he cherished. Tradition that called the Gospel "yang-jyau" ("the foreign teaching") and the person who brings it "yang-gwei" (foreign devil). 

But it was also tradition that could not save him! Had never claimed it could! And  right now, this poor man had turned his head toward me and was looking right at me! 

"Oh, Lord God help me!" I cried out inside. I didn't have a clue how to do this, or even how to begin. But suddenly the sheer urgency of the situation came flooding over me and so I just sat down next to him, took his hand in mine and started speaking to him in the bluntest of terms.

"Mr. Huang. You don't know me. I know I'm a stranger. But you don't have much time, and there's Someone who can rescue you..." 


(Oops...out of space. Stay tuned next week).


Wonderful worship last Sunday dear family. See you there!                                  RAS

Never in Vain! part 2
A Lot Like Uranium