Stephen Chan

The Late Home-coming Prodigal Son – Chapter 14

A translation from ‘遊子遲遲歸’

Chapter Fourteen              Dedication

My university life was very simple and frugal. In the summer, I bought a piece of rough linen to sew myself a nice T-shirt. I measured one bigger hole for my head to get through, two smaller holes for my arms. Two of these shirts would last me a whole summer. It took me just one morning to sew them up. In winter, I bought myself an overcoat with cotton stuffing. I wore straw sandals during normal days, but in winter I would put the straw sandals on top of my cloth shoes to keep my feet warm and make the cloth shoes last for the whole winter.

Xikang (西康) was not well known for any eatery or fashion, but it was famous for its beautiful moonlight. The weather was usually brisk and dry, coupled with the charming moonlight scenery of Mount Lu and Chenghai, which easily stirred up my heart aches. I was very lonely the first year at school. The little prayer patch was my comfort zone. I often wore my old worn jacket, which I called it my ‘PhD graduation robe’ when I was homeless at Kunming; and went there to pour out my heart to my Lord, praying out as loud as I could, and received solace and strength from Him, feeling God is very near to me.

On one clear and starry night, I told my Lord I was homeless, all I had was Him and the heavenly home. That night, I wrote a poem:
I am a lonely pilgrim,
I have no home on earth.
My home lies far yonder,
With hundreds and thousands of miles to wander;
And countless days to tender,
Who can lead me through this weary way?
And who will travel with me these endless days?
Oh, I will not worry for I know my Lord cares for me each day,
I am not alone for He is by my side.
I can see His footprints when I lost my way,
I can feel His presence in my solitude.
I will say to my Lord, like the psalmist said,
‘Whom have I in heaven but you?
And on earth has nothing I desire besides you.” Psalm73:25
Lord, I will love you with all my life, just as you have loved me,
Shield my heart, my eyes, and my feet, to focus on You until I die.

Two years later, I dedicated my life to serve the Lord, and changed my name to Chung Tao (終道), meaning ‘true to the Truth till the end’. I couldn’t use the new name right away until 1948 when I returned to Fujian (福建) to add my name on all my legal documents. Fifty years had passed as I look back now, my Lord remained faithful to me even though I was faithless (II Tim 2:13). I had twice in my life rebelled against the Lord, gone astray, but He still led me on with ‘His ties of love’ (Hosea 11:4) all the time. Even to this day, His salvation to me was steadfast, for ‘having loved His own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of His love.’ (John 13:1)

I enjoyed my two years of school life in Xikang (西康). In fact those were my happiest days in my youth. For the first time in my life, I was well respected. I was elected twice to be the president of the student council. My grades were outstanding; my social life in school was excellent. We had the most cooperating and loving relationships in the student council. Most of us students came from far away provinces, no one carried any big cities’ snobbish and arrogant attitude; maybe this was the reason why we became such an intimate group.

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