Newsletter June, 2004

 

ORLANDO CHINESE CHURCH MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

June, 2004


Back to This Land

(Reading: Genesis 28: 10-17)

Parting time is often emotional. When I was young, my father used to take me by bike from countryside into the city to celebrate Chinese New Year at my aunt's house. When it was time for departure, she would always treat us with a delicious meal of dumplings at a pastry shop. Dumplings were expensive delicacies then, and every year that was the only time I could enjoy them. After the meal, my aunt would walk a long way to see us off. I remember her tears every time we got onto the bike to leave, as if we wouldn't be able to see one another again.

When I was in high school, China started the modern reformation. In order to get in a good college, I worked hard at memorizing the textbooks to prepare for the entrance exam. My test score was the highest in a municipal suburban area of about ten thousand people, so that I was admitted into a famous university in Anhui Province -The University of Science and Technology of China. I still remember the farewell at the Hangzhou railway station. I had never been away from my hometown before. At the platform I pretended to be strong, but inside I felt quite lost. I managed to hold back my tears when the train started to move until I heard the whistle and the music broadcasted from the radio. To hide my tears, I moved away from the window and began to think about my future. Upon my arrival the home-sick sob of another roommate surprised me. It seemed strangely rare that a big strong man would be so emotional.

After five years of hard work, I received my Bachelor's degree and was admitted to the South China Institute of Oceanography in Guangzhou without taking any exam. At that time, I already passed the TOEFL and was accepted by University of Puerto Rico. However, I could not get the required passport so I was about to give up the hope of studying abroad. Nonetheless, God opened the door in January 1987, and I had to bid another tearful farewell to my father. With two luggages and a hundred dollars, an enormous figure to me at that time, I left China with father's continuous waving behind me. On board the Boeing 747 I wondered how a poor country boy like me would be flying in the sky. I couldn't hold back my tears at the thought of my family, who had paid for my flight with all their possessions. The separation from them was truly painful to me.

After my PhD degree in Physics from the University of Florida I planned to work as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Puerto Rico. The day before I left, a sister in Christ, who had also been my classmate, came to help me clean my kitchen that had been dirty for a year. I wondered whether she had fallen in love with me as I watched her taking so much pain in cleaning and washing my kitchen. One semester later at the beautiful Puerto Rico, I received a heavy envelope from her with a letter and pictures from my graduation ceremony. My heart stopped beating at the last words in her letter - "God loves you!" I realized at that moment that she would be my life-long companion blessed by God. I decide to come back from Puerto Rico to Florida.

Then for the first time I was deeply touched by the love of God. Before I left Florida, I told my adviser that I would not come back to Florida again. Now since the love of my life happened to be in Florida, we could not bear the yearning across the distance! In order to be with her, I changed my mind and came back to work for my previous adviser in the old physics lab on a project I was not interested in. To get a better job, I applied for a new study in Electrical Engineering. For the sake of love, I patiently sat through the classes with undergraduate students. On the sunny spring day of March 16, 1996, we were married in the Gainesville Chinese Christian Church. The efforts and blessings from brothers and sisters made me experience the true love of God.

Mr. Hudson Taylor, the great pioneer of China mission, has had the greatest influence in my life. His autobiography, To China with Love, reports the farewell scene between twenty-one year old Taylor and his mother when he was ready to sail for China to preach the gospel.

"My beloved mother¡­ came to Liverpool to say goodbye. I will never forget how she accompanied me into the small cabin that would be my home for the next six months. Mother arranged my bed with her loving hand, sat beside me, and together we sang the last hymn before I left. After we knelt down, mother started her final prayer for her son before his departure. Then we were told that the ship was about to set off and that we must depart. We couldn't bear the parting, as we didn't expect to see each other again in our lifetime. She tried to hold back her emotions to comfort me. After we departed, she walked ashore and gave me blessings. I stood on the deck by myself while she walked ashore towards the water gate. When the ship passed the water gate where we would truly be departed, my heart was pierced by my mother's cry of my name. I will never forget that moment because it made me fully contemplate the meaning of the Bible verse - "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son". I believe that my beloved mother knew more about God's love than ever before." Another record about this scene reports that Mr. Taylor said to his mother, "Dear mom, don't cry because we will see each other again. Think about the glorious things I am about to do. Our departure is neither for fame nor for money but for the Chinese to know Jesus!"

Mr. Taylor contributed all he had to China with a great sacrificial love. He set a great example to other believers with his unswerving faith and great contributions to Chinese churches in the church history. His two sons and daughters died prematurely in China. His wife also died there. His whole life attests his well-known saying, "If I had a thousand pounds, all of it would be spent for China; if I had a thousand lives, all of them would be given to China."

And I believe the first Christian in our Ni family must have been a fruit produced by Mr. Taylor when he preached gospel in Ningbo. His biography tells such an episode: Once a middle-aged man from the Ni family stood up and testified his faith in the good news after the crowd just listened to Mr. Taylor's preaching of the salvation in Jesus Christ. He said earnestly, "I have been searching for the truth for a long time. So did my forefathers. However, they didn't find it. I have searched for it near and far, but didn't find it. I couldn't find peace from Confucianism, Buddhism, nor Taoism. However, I have finally found the peace from the good news preached tonight. From now on, I am a believer in Jesus." That man used to be a leader among the Buddhism reformists. Soon after he believed in Jesus, he attended a Buddhism group meeting. Mr. Taylor went with him and gave his testimony for the peace he gained by believing in Jesus. One of his former friends also repented and was baptized soon. A few days later, he asked how long the English had known the good news. Mr. Taylor told him that they had known the good news for a few hundred years. The brother was astounded and asked, "How could you have waited a few hundred years before you preach the good news to us? My father spent almost twenty years to search for the truth and died without it. Why didn't you come earlier?"

Guizhen Ni, mother of the famous Soong sisters, was the daughter of a minister. I reckon that her father might have learned about the good news from this brother Ni according to the time and geography. I often think about the question brother Ni asked Mr. Taylor, "Why didn't you come earlier?"

I received a clear calling from God when I was preparing for the Thanksgiving program of my church last November. I felt myself totally lost in the musical worship. I drove to a beautiful lake where I held up my hands to heaven. The Spirit moved me deeply from tip to toe till I could no longer stand. I knelt down in tears. "¡­and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14). God had chosen me from among thousands to return to where I had come from. I knew this for sure when my wife said, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16)

Eagles have the longest lifespan among birds. They can live up to seventy years. In order to live that long, an eagle must make a difficult decision at the age of forty when its claws have so aged that they can no longer catch food. Its beak will have grown long and curved enough to touch its breast. Its wings will have grown to be very heavy with thick feathers so that flying becomes a difficult task. The eagle will then have to choose between death and a painful renewal process. This renewal process will take about a hundred and fifty days. The eagle has to fly to the top of a mountain to make a nest on steep cliff and to stay there all the time. The eagle will start by hitting its beak against the rock till it totally falls off. Then it will wait for the appearance of new beak with which to take out all the old nails. When the new nails grow out, they will be used to get rid of all the old feathers. After five months, new feathers will be ready for the eagle to fly again. Through such a painful process, the eagle can live for another thirty years.

I, now at age forty, often worry about the uncertainties I am about to face across the ocean. I felt greatly lost when I resigned my job, sold my house and car, and felt as if I was treating my family shabbily. In January 2004, I attended a Christian Conference on life-time investment held at Duke University. This University used to be a Trinity Theology Seminary. A grand church stood in the middle of the campus. The forefathers of the university had given their best to build the church. When I wandered on campus, I recalled that Yaoru Soong, the father of the Soong sisters, used to stroll on the same campus. I could hardly imagine the sacrifice he made when he left for Lujiazhui in Shanghai to save his countrymen's souls. I still have to face a lot of challenges and uncertainties to go back China from abroad even though Mr. Yaoru Soong might have suffered more. I can still hear my forefather's words, "Why didn't you come earlier?" Let's go back to win the hearts of our countrymen who need us. Let's go back to join in the renewal of souls for a better China.

"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?" "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you (Genesis 29:7)." I have awaken from my American dream and realized that the Lord Almighty is truly here. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9) ." (Wayne Ni)

On Our Way Home

Dear ones,

Peace be with you! It's been nearly half a year since returned to New Jersey. All is well, because many brothers and sisters care for us.

Thank God for bringing us down to Orlando. Although only a few months, we were so loved dearly that our hearts were greatly touched. It was hard to leave you all. We will never forget that period of time.
On the way back it was Christmas eve when we reached Baltimore. More and more cars got into the traffic, and everyone was in a hurry to get home. When I saw the exit sign, it was already too late to change lane. With a speed of over 60 mph, I could only rush to the median and stay there. Then we found out that we were really stuck. The big trucks rushed by, causing a mighty wind to shake our car. Traffic was heavy on both sides, and very fast. There was no way for us to get back into it. One of my boys said, "Daddy, I am too young to die!" A minute later, the other said, "I am too young to die, too!" I felt very sad, dare not to move even one inch.

Half hour went by. It was like a century long. Because we had a trailer which blocked my view, I asked Jean to open the window to see if I could get out. As soon as she did that, the strong wind and loud noise from the rushing-by trucks scared her to shut the window right way. I thought short of a miracle we might be spending the Christmas eve in that wilderness.

Then a police car came up behind us. The officer asked what happened. I told him that we parked here in emergency and could not get out. When he asked if we called for help, I denied it. But Jean said to me, "I have been praying to God thrice." A short while later, the officer came back and said, "Don't worry. I've got two fire engines blocking the traffic behind you. When I sound the siren, you follow me." We safely returned to Hwy. 95, and praised God for He heard the prayer and sent the angel.

A little way ahead there was an accident. The car owner was sending out requests for help. We realized that the police car and the fire trucks were coming for him, but saved us first. The Lord knew our very need, and made the best arrangement to relieve us. With a faith being tested, we are firm in our love for Him.

The short stay in Orlando will always be our unforgettable memory. As we remember you in prayer, may God bless you all!

In Christ, Peter Wong and family