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敲鐘者言 — 朱耀明被告欄的陳辭

4-10-2019 10:47| 发布者: snapshot| 查看: 545| 评论: 0

摘要: 作為一個終生為上主所用,矢志與弱勢者和窮苦人同行,祈求彰顯上主公義,實踐天國在人間,傳頌愛與和平福音的牧師,垂老之年,滿頭白髮,站在法庭被告欄,以待罪之身作最後的陳辭,看似極其荒謬和諷刺,甚至被視為神 ...


Confessions of a Bell Toller -a statement from the Defendant’s Dock


I am a Christian minister committed to the service of God. I have resolved to live a life of friendship with the weak and the poor, praying that God’s justice be manifested on earth as it is in heaven, and that the gospel of love and peace be proclaimed among the people. But today, old and grey, I find myself in the Defendant’s dock, making a final plea as a convict. It looks so absurd, if not outright shameful for a person holding holy office.

And yet, at this very moment, my heart tells me that with this defendant’s dock, I have found the most honourable pulpit of my ministerial career. The valley of the shadow of death leads to spiritual heights.

For decades, I have preached numerous sermons. Little could I anticipate that the one message which preparation took me the longest time and the most heartfelt prayer, and which probably would reach the largest audience, is precisely this one delivered from the Defendant’s dock. In this message I tell the story of my childhood, of the Umbrella Movement, a story of heaven and earth.

In days of old, Jewish people longed for the coming of the Redeemer when there would be no more pain and tears. Then Christ, Incarnate, took on human flesh and lived among us, sharing in our suffering and pain. And the world has since learned that “where there is suffering and tears, there is the Redeemer.” 

Ours is an age of absurdity. Living in a society on the brink of authoritarianism and of arbitrary rule, let me be a brave bell toller, ringing, waking up sleepy souls.

All these began with the story of my childhood.

My childhood story

I was destitute when young. There was no one to depend on. I was sent to live with my grandmother in a mainland village.

At primary age, I witnessed the brutality of the land reform movement. Many ‘land owners’ were brought before raging public trials, some summarily executed on the spot. Some committed suicide after suffering unbearable acts of humiliation.

Government often incited people to engage in political struggles. Fields were left untended, food production neglected. Hunger struck. People survived on tree leaves and wild fruits. There were nothing but lambs on the altar of sacrifice.

I completed primary schooling under the banner of [ Down with American Imperialism ] Became a hired hand in working in the fields, herding buffalo. With my grandmother, I survived. She survived. A case of sharing in destitution.

Grandmother died. I was all alone. But at her sickbed, she asked a neighbour to help me apply for return to Hong Kong. Bag in hand, I walked an entire day to reach Taishing bus station.

Day One, I got myself taken in as an apprentice. But the job called for nothing but cooking meals and washing clothes. I walked out, joined the street-sleepers crowd, and became a shoe-shine boy. I was looked down upon and constantly beaten by triads.

One day, I found myself running a fever. It turned out to be some kind of rheumatic heart disease. I was hospitalised for two months.

Bed-riddden in a crowded ward, I saw patients struggling with death and others being visited by relatives and friends. I was all by myself. Nothing hurts more than that.

I began asking myself: does life have any meaning? To me personally, life seems like a burden; and death a thorough liberation.

As I was struggling with the thoughts of death and liberation, a gentle old woman offered me a job as school janitor. There on the campus, a senior teacher, a devout Christian, invited me to go to church.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. (John 14/6) The light at the end of suffering brightens up my life.

Gradually I came to appreciate that I simply could not give up. Life is hard and brutal, yet as long as there are signs of love, righteousness, truthfulness, I am resolved to follow the higher way.

By the grace of God, with faith, I managed to overcome my educational and financial difficulties. Armed with $130, my last month’s wage, I began my part-time work-study journey : 3 years of high school, 4 of post-secondary college, and 3 years of theological seminary. My resolve: to proclaim the Word, to serve the grassroots of society, and to walk with the weak and the poor.

I know that for the way ahead, I am no longer alone, because my Lord walks with me.

My parish story

In 1974, I was commissioned to serve Chai Wan Baptist Church.

For years, Chai Wan had often been considered a ‘red neck’ district. It was crowded, the population poor, education level low, public health facilities inadequate and few employment opportunities.

Public schooling was available, but family support often fell short. An entire family lived in a cubicle built for a bed plus a cabinet. Life was hard, the environment miserable. Drug and crime problems prevalent among the young.

Many families still lived in shanties, risking typhoons in summer and fire in winter. When disasters struck, I found myself at the scene, supporting, embracing, comforting the people. I felt their pain and powerlessness. The church would offer some help from its charity fund.

A Christian man once told me he had been unfairly treated by Urban Services. He could no longer operate his hawker stall. His pastor said, “I would pray for you. Then you go and see Rev. Chu Yiu Ming.”

So this brother came to me.  I said I would also do the praying, but I would take a further step. I would accompany you to the UMELCO Complaint Office. There, the issue was later resolved.

To those who are naked or hungry, the Christian minister has no business responding with greetings of Peace, Peace. I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about their physical needs. What good are such greetings? So ask the Bible. (James 2:16)

Take a further step. The church should be a community which grows hope. Take a further step. A community which embraces suffering and pain. Take a further step. This is the true meaning of being church.

My resolve: to walk with people. Take a further step. Improve the quality of life. Build the Eastern Corridor, the Eastern Hospital. Public Housing for Squatters. Improve Workers’ Livelihood.

Hope. Nurture hope in the midst of people’s struggles.

The church, however, tends to be conservative. It worries about church ministers getting involved in social movements.

I recall in the year of us advocating for the building of the Eastern Hospital, my congregation was applying to the authorities for land. I was doing a tv interview. I found myself restless for fear that government might consider us ‘a pressure group’ and reject our church’s application. I worried that my colleagues and church members might no longer be able to identify with our mission out of fear.

But the Bible provides me with courage and power. 

There, in the scriptures, it is announced that Jesus, God Incarnate, lived among us, full of grace and truth. Bring good news to the poor. And it is proclaimed that the imprisoned shall be free and the blind see, and the oppressed liberated. Isn’t this the good news of salvation for the people?

At some point, Jesus was taken by certain powerful and influential people up a tall precipice. They threatened to kill him. Unafraid, Jesus walked passed the crowd on to safety.

Living in this world of ours today, let us take heed of Paul‘s word: To me, to live is Christ.(Phil.1:21)

Christ has no body
Christ sees you as his body,
Your two hands as his hands to finish his work.
With your feet, He travels the whole world.
Through your two eyes,
He casts his sight of compassion upon the earth
(Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582)--

I have been called as a servant of the Lord. In imitation of Christ. Following his steps. Taking up his mission. Making known his concerns for the world. Unafraid of political pressure or how others see his work.

Take a further step.  Walk with the people. Following Christ each step of the way.


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