Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Julie, merciful servant

I have one Sunday Bible class student, Julie, who has been in my class since I started teaching in Taiwan, over 12 years ago. Julie speaks Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese (her favorite I think) and English. She is a retired travel agent and still likes to travel around the world. She also has a gift, from the Holy Spirit, to serve.

Julie is a senior citizen, but she serves the rest of us. She takes attendance for the class records, organizes the tables and chairs if they are disorganized and brings me a glass of water if I need one. Julie used to make copies of class handouts before class, but the church office recently complained that they are too busy to help supervise our copying, so now I have to submit my class materials a week ahead so they can be copied at a more convenient time for the church staff. (We have an exceptionally organized church, but there isn't much room for spontaneity.)

Anyway, our church, Suan-Lien Presbyterian, is over 90 years old and Julie has grown up in it. She is very happy now because her husband finally became a Christian last year and her daughter is finally getting married this year.

Back when I was making trouble over the 2-28 Incident, Julie took me to lunch and helped me understand some things. At the beginning of the 2-28 Incident, the Taiwanese people rose up in revolt against the corrupt government imposed on them by the mainland (China, ruled by Chang Kai-Shek). For four days, gangs ran through the streets and searched the houses looking for mainlanders to punish. Julie was a young secretary working in Taipei at the time. One of her coworkers was another young woman from the mainland. Julie was worried about her friend's safety, so she invited her to stay at Julie's house. Julie shepherded the woman past the gangs, and hid her until the trouble was past.

This was an element of the 2-28 Incident that I'd never heard before. I had only heard about the suffering of the Taiwanese, never the mainlanders. Julie told me that I was right to say the Taiwanese should forgive the government, but with a pained expression she asked me not to push the issue. "People just don't want to talk about this," she said.

I don't remember how soon, but I did follow her advice. I used to bring up this topic once every year on the last day of February, but now I just slip it into my general teaching on forgiving our enemies, without specifically highlighting the 2-28 Incident. I still love and respect those who refuse to forgive, perhaps they will see beyond my brashness, to merciful heart of God. But as for Julie, I believe her reward will be greater than all the successful, high placed leaders who are spiritually crippled by bitterness. Meanwhile, revival tarries.