Stephen Chan

The Late Home-coming Prodigal Son – Chapter 24

A translation from ‘遊子遲遲歸’

Chapter Twenty Four        Taipei and Xiamen

After a few days, Miss Ding told me about an opportunity in Taipei where Mr. Weng Jie-Guo (翁节郭弟兄) needed an assistant. So I went there immediately to gain experience in serving the Lord. It was the summer in 1948. Most churches in Taipei were Presbyterian Church and spoke Xiamen dialect, but Mr. Weng Jie-Guo’s church was a Mandarin speaking church. It was a very disappointing experience in Taipei. I was confronted with even more dilemma and questions regarding attitude of serving in church, pursuing spirit filled life, spiritual growth, and church truth. I searched God’s will and unfortunately was totally lost. I decided to leave Taipei for Fuzhou again after six months.

I went to Keelung(Jilong基隆) and took a cargo ship back to Fuzhou. I was offered a free ride. Since there was no cabin available, I was settled to stay on the deck. At first, I was happy because there would be lots of fresh air on the deck and I would not be seasick. However there was a storm with waves towering to fifty feet high. I was swept away by a huge wave but fortunately the railing caught me and I fell on the deck floor. When the second wave swept in again, I grabbed the railing tightly and survived it. I was later taken down to the sailors’ cabin to rest. When I woke up, the ship had returned to Keelung (基隆) due to the strong wind. The ship left again for Fuzhou the next day.

When I arrived at Fuzhou, Mr. Zhang at the Christian Assembly arranged for me to Gu Lang Yu (鼓浪屿) in Xiamen, to minister under Mr. Wang Lian-Jun (John Wang王连俊老弟兄). Just as I reached Gu Lang Yu in early1948 winter, the Christian Assembly in Xiamen was in crisis too. Mr. Wang was the elder of the Assembly, he was a well respected scholar on Bible exposition and Bible prophecies. His expository of the Bible was very clear and in details. During the eight months working under him, I benefitted much from him. He influenced me to study the Bible carefully. Gradually I found God’s word answered many of my questions. Therefore, by studying the Bible carefully, constantly jotted down my every insight, I had corrected many of my wrong concepts of the Bible.

The first time I preached at Gu Lang Yu Christian Assembly (鼓浪屿聚会处) was when Xiamen (夏门) Christian Assembly was in crisis. Both Mr. Wang and Mr. Zhang upheld the same principle of independent administration for each local church from its mother church. They did not agree with the ‘hand over’ principle held by Xiamen Christian Assembly. Some influential elders were seated on the front row listening to my first sermon, ready to take me down from the pulpit if I ever made any mistake on interpreting the Bible. This was my unforgettable experience. My topic was ‘Testimony of the Church’. I could feel the tense atmosphere but my spirit was at peace. The message suited the need of the congregation very well and everyone relaxed after the meeting. For the nine months that I ministered at Gu Long Yu, four elders worked with me closely. I was very happy and respected there, and most of all, greatly encouraged. (The content of the message can be found in my book ‘Truth for the Churches’《教会真理讲座》).

That year, I ministered among the different Christian Assembly churches in Fuzhou, Taipei and Xiamen. There were conflicts. I found that the leadership and spiritual life of the lead pastors was the most influential factor affecting the growth or decline of the church. I cautioned myself of the direction of my ministry in the Lord.

Therefore, I urged you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His goodness and perfect will.

The apostle Paul offered himself to the Lord as living sacrifice, living for the Lord everyday, and in the process had been transformed by the renewing of his mind, and be able to test and know what God’s will was. This is a well memorized Bible verse. It is the most practical verse I found for our spiritual life and the best ministry goal for all Christians.

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