Meditation 5 Kerrisdale Newsletter April 26, 2020
“They can’t take this away from me”
In the 1980’s when I served as the Secretary for International Ministries of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, I visited the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan (PCT). The General Secretary of the PCT was the Rev. Dr. C.M. Kao. To visit him I had to go to the jail where he was incarcerated because he would not provide confidential information to the authorities who were wanting to arrest a young Christian who had participated in a protest against the pro-Chinese government. Dr. Kao was thrown in jail because he would not answer questions about where the young man might be hiding.
I was taken to a grey cement block room, and Dr. Kao was brought in. He greeted me with a bright smile and a big hug. We talked for 30 minutes. We chatted about the conditions in the prison, about the general situation in the PCT, and about his family. I asked about his mental and spiritual health. He smiled and said, “They can take away my freedom; they can take away my work; they can take away my books; they can take away time with my family and friends; they can even take away my life, but there is one thing they can’t take away - my faith in Jesus Christ.”
Here was a man who had already endured life in prison for two years. I expected to find him discouraged and broken. But his faith shone in his face. He told me that some of the guards were asking him how he could still be filled with hope and joy, so he told them about Jesus and showed them the stories in the gospels.
Friends, all Canadians, but especially the people of Nova Scotia, are going through a horrendous week. Much has been taken away from all of us, but the unspeakable tragedy that struck the families and neighbours of my fellow Nova Scotians last weekend is painful beyond the telling.
All across the country, people are asking what we can do to help. The mayor of Truro and Colchester County Municipality answered that question with these words, “Pray for those families and communities. Pray for us all.” She still had faith to believe that prayer is important. When I talked to my sister and two nieces in Lower Sackville, they all said the same thing, “God is our hope and he will get us through this. What else do we have?” One niece said, “Without God, what do we have?”
That sick perpetrator took away precious lives. He took away their wonderful gifts of personality and music and care for others. He took away what they might have done to make this world a better place. But I pray that he did not take away their faith in a compassionate God who will stand beside them in their grief and sorrow.
Our faithful prayers for them will help. And our faith in Christ will help us too as we walk this difficult road through Covid 19 to a brighter tomorrow.
Take courage. Hold on to hope. The risen Lord is with you.