Stephen Chan

The Late Home-coming Prodigal Son – Chapter 22

A translation from ‘遊子遲遲歸’

Chapter Twenty Two      Traveling South to Visit my Parents


1948 spring, I decided to travel south to see my parents before graduation. Since I never graduated from any other schools, I did not want to graduate from the seminary as a note to myself that I need to keep on learning. I also was eager to see my parents to reconcile with them. God had provided me enough money for traveling expenses. I took the river route from Yangtze River (长江三峡) to Nanjing (南京), then a train ride to Shanghai in April. On the boat, I had the opportunity to lead two evangelistic meetings, with the help of Mr. Wu. I preached the Gospel and he gave his testimony on how he received salvation. Mr. Wu was an older gentleman, an earnest new believer. He was an opium smoker for more than twenty years, owner of nine nightclubs and bars in Chongqing. He tried many times to quit smoking and failed. With the help of his new found faith, he quit smoking entirely in two weeks, and closed down all his nightclubs. We had many opportunities to share the gospel with people on the boat, and it was a wonderful experience for both of us.


When I arrived in Shanghai, I stayed at the student hostel of the University Council. My school mate Mr. Zhang Xue-Li (张学理先生) was the manager. Miss Zheng Hui-Duan (郑惠端), a Fuzhou native, welcomed me and brought me to the Fudan University fellowship meeting. We even had a group picture taken. Miss Zheng was persecuted and jailed during the communist regime. She was released later in her old age and returned to Fuzhou. Fortunately she was taken care of by a nice family. Her virtues of love, patience, faithfulness, and spiritual steadfastness were outstanding and admirable.


I found my elder sister Nora in Shanghai, and realized mother and the rest of the family had returned to Fuzhou, and father had gone back to Hong Kong. Then I took the Yangtze River route down south to Fuzhou. When I met my mother, I saw a feeble, kind old lady, not resembling the one in my childhood. I was speechless with all sorts of feelings well up in my heart. Instantly I felt the love, the intimacy that I had never experienced before. I stayed home joyfully for more than one month. She showed me their lives in Shanghai, and I told her about my dedication four years ago and my current ministry, but omitted my destitute situation in Chongqing.


I had another reason for returning to Fuzhou. I longed to learn how to serve God from my uncle Watchman Nee. But I did not even get a chance to see him. At that time, the Christian Assembly in Fuzhou was in crisis, on the verge of splitting up into two groups. (Reason of the split are found in my book ‘My Uncle watchman Nee’ 《我的舅父倪柝聲》). I was tremendously puzzled which group I should join. Our family lived on the second floor of Yu Lin Shan (玉林山馆楼) in Cang Qian Shan (仓前山), the group led by my uncle held worship services downstairs. The other group led by another brother Zhang Qi-Zhen (张启珍弟兄) met in another building behind the football field of Cang Qian Shen. I had a dilemma; I could not decide which group I should support. I knew my mother preferred me to side with my uncle. Finally I decided to stand up for the truth of the Bible and joined the group led by Mr. Zhang. I was risking my renewed relationship with my mother, who might feel hurt and embarrassed by my action not to follow my uncle. By God’s grace, my mother wasn’t angry at me because of this. In fact, she was happy her prodigal son had now repented and dedicated himself to be a servant of the Lord. We became close spiritual friends in Christ.

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