Thursday, March 03, 2005

Pastor Pung, the 2-28 Incident and me

A few years ago I was attending worship at Suan-Lien Presbyterian Church. The services are in Taiwanese, but they offer translation in English and Japanese. Pastor Pung was talking about the injustice of the 2-28 Incident. The government was beginning to open up about what really happened, but had kept many records secret. And even today many records are still secret. Most foreigners in Taiwan know little about the 2-28 Incident and care even less. I am different because I married into a traditional Taiwanese family and I also have many senior citizen students and friends who lived through that tragic time. While I knew about the 2-28 Incident, I didn't really care because I'm a foreigner and it seemed such a long time ago.

Well, as Pastor Pung was giving his sermon complaining about the government's current handling of the 2-28 Incident, I started feeling angry. This was strange because I already knew the problem, I agreed with Pastor Pung's point and I previously had not cared much. As he continued to speak, I felt a very rare and burning anger welling up within me. I recognized that this was not my anger, but God's. He was filling me with his emotion. I was reflecting the Lord's anger as the moon reflects the sun's light. (I know this sounds strange, but sometimes God causes me to feel what he feels about something: joy, love, anger, even sadness. It's always a surprise when it happens. I never seek this experience although I do pray I will be filled with God's heart, soul, mind and strength.)

Anyway, I recognized this great anger came from God. He was not angry at the government, He was angry at my pastor! God was angry that Pastor Pung was speaking about justice and punishment for those responsible for the 2-28 Incident. I didn't hear God speak, but if I could put the emotion into words, the anger would say "How dare you speak this way in MY HOUSE! Where is your forgiveness?" This feeling was so strong I could barely keep from interrupting the service.

After the service, I wrote a letter to Pastor Pung explaining what happened and how I thought he should respond. He invited me to a meeting with himself and the other 3 pastors. I told him that God was angry with what he said in church and he needed to forgive the 2-28 Incident and implicitly all government oppression for the past 50 years. Not only he, but the entire denomination needed to forgive those responsible. Pastor Pung said he would forgive only after the government confesses and repents. I was taken aback by this and countered that Jesus forgave him and all of us before we even asked Him, indeed while we were His enemies. Pastor Pung concluded that when God tells him that, then he will listen. I though that was a good answer, we can't expect pastors to follow the dictates of everyone who claims a message from God.

In humility, I chose not to make this a public issue, but I felt had to do something. I began to pray every night that God would give the church leaders a vision for His plans and that they would forgive for the 2-28 Incident. I also began a year of teaching in my church Bible Study Class on forgiveness as I discovered Chinese culture is much less forgiving that Western culture.

Next time I will share the consequence of that year.