Friday, July 04, 2003

What I Saw

This morning I rode on the Subway system to go to the Conference office for the Ministers' Meetings. As I entered the station to go down to the platform I saw a young blind boy with his cane tapping his way along. I followed behind and saw him easily wend his way through the crowds and into a waiting car. He sat near the door and scooted very close to the corner. Then folded his umbrella and opened his back pack. He had a place lined with plastic just for the wet umbrella. When he retrieved from another pocket in his back pack, some necessary item, he knew just where to look for it. I thought of my frequent and frantic searches through my own back pack when I finally had to resign myself to having forgotten the searched for item at home or office, only to find it later when I emptied my back pack.

I guess the Lord knows that I am fairly hopeless as a sighted person and would be a tragedy if blind. I can hardly keep track of what I can see, let alone what I cannot see.
I then reflected on some of the things I have seen in the last few weeks on visits to China.
I saw two prostitutes fighting on the street over one man. He stood there calmly being tugged one direction and then another. I saw two boys who had aggravated a policeman. He tried to convince them by harsh looks to stop. They jumped a barrier and crossed the street. This was something that he could not do with his motorcycle. He finally... too late, parked the bike and did the same. He ran, but they ran faster, pausing to turn and taunt him. I saw two members of one family, a mother and baby, sitting on the pavement beside a busy street eating rotted food by the handfuls from a trash can.

I stood waiting for a bus. I heard a crashing sound that seemed to be quick and yet last so long. At my right I saw that a crane perched at the top of a sky scraper under construction, had dropped a load of iron-pipe scaffolding that it had been lifting. I rushed to the site and saw two men who had been buried beneath the falling scaffolding, helped out and carried out to the street. I saw the taxi drivers rush by because of the blood. I saw the angry employees force a taxi to stop, standing in the road so that he, the driver, could not pass. I saw him threaten to run over these men if they didn't let him pass. I saw the wounded men cry covered with blood, bruises, cuts and torn clothing. And then I saw the change on the driver's face when I went to the window and offered him Y100 (about $12.00 US) to take them to a hospital. I saw him become kind and gentle offering them transportation.

I saw two beggars. One was a beggar who did not have 2 hands. One was missing. His hair was matted, and he lay on his face on the sidewalk kowtowing (before the emperors of old, those who gained audience would kowtow by tapping their head on the floor 3 times). This beggar seemed to have such control that he could stop just a millimeter from the paving before lifting his head to kowtow again and again. But when I reached where he stood, I saw that he did not stop. His forehead and face were covered with blood that also matted his hair. The second beggar was a young boy who had a bright intelligent face. His legs had not developed properly and would not support the weight of his body should he walk upright. He walked therefore like an animal on all fours. He did not crawl, but sprinted along like a dog, bounding among pedestrians, stopping not infrequently to ask for alms.

And I saw two young Chinese men. One works in a restaurant where he is in an apprenticeship. He studied food service in College, and he works now as a waiter. He is among the 13 employees there that I give Bible Studies to. He was one who was so thrilled when I brought him a Bible. The first he had ever held. We took a picture together as if it were some grand presentation when in fact it was just on the steps to a busy restaurant in China. To actually conduct a Bible Study would be against the law, but to give a person a Bible printed in China, but hardly easy to buy or even find, could not be against the law. And I just hold out the first lesson and say in my limited Chinese, "Would you like to have this?" The next time I visit the restaurant, the waiters come one by one to my table and tell me what lesson they are ready for next. This waiter told me that he loved the lessons and studies the same lesson daily until I bring the next.

The second young man runs a tea shop. He readily took the lessons, but when I came the next time he told me he did not understand. When it was the day off for the waiter, I took him to the tea shop. And there I saw two young men, born and raised in a China that tried to be Godless, looking at the Bible together. The waiter explaining to the shop keeper how to use the study guides.

Several couplets were moving. Some were strange, some were horrifying. But none was as significant or as thrilling as those two heads bent over God's word springing to life again in China.