Remembrance of an Ordinary Christian(追思一位平凡的信徒)


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 (台南看西街教會名譽長老盧木童 By Tan Chi-Chhun (陳志春)•Translated by Jay Loo (盧主義

台灣公論報August 29th, 2006


Having read the obituary regarding Elder Lo Bok-tong(盧木童長老on page 6, Issue 1743 of Taiwan Church Communique(《台灣教會公報》1743期,1985728 .P6), I have decided to pen this essay to commemorate this long-term elder about whom I have many memories.  At 2 p.m. on July 25, 1985, a memorial service was held as part of the Church Funeral for the honorable Elder(名譽長老 for Life Lo Bok-tong at the KhuaN-Sai-Ke Presbyterian Church in Tainan. ( 台南看西街教會  The large church hall was packed to capacity at that time, with many mourners left standing.

Elder Lo was born on October 12, 1900(生於19001012) at his old home on Pak-si Street (北勢街).   He passed away at the age of 84 on July 17, 1985.  At age 18, he lost both parents within half a year.  Since the family had no financial assets, he took on the responsibility as head of the household to raise a younger sister and two younger brothers.  On many days, the meals consisted of rice gruel mixed with oiled salt.  But the siblings were all sent to high school and the two brothers to dental and medical schools.

At first, Elder Lo inherited his father’s occupation and became a craftsman, making locks and other copper handicrafts.  Soon mass-produced industrial copper products became widely available, and Elder Lo was compelled to change his job to selling processed food.  When he was 26, his second uncle (younger brother of his mother) kept urging him to get married.  “You are no longer young.  It’s time to start a family.”  So, in the early  spring of the following year he was introduced by a matchmaker to Miss Chin Chen (陳盡), the second daughter of Mr. Tan Phu , who was Deacon of the Thai-peng-keng Church.(太平境教會)  The young man told the prospective father-in-law candidly: “Please understand I am very poor.”  Deacon Tan replied “I understand.  It’s more important to have faith.”  In March 1927, a wedding service was held at home, after borrowing 20 yuan.

The couple’s love for each other was steadfast throughout their shared lives.  They raised ten sons and a daughter.  Six have passed away in childhood or adulthood.  At present, Chu-gi (主義), Chu-ten (主典), Shin-hui (信惠)and Chu-eng (主恩)  live in America.  They are engaged in actuarial consulting, medicine or systems engineering.  The sole daughter Elder An-cheng (安貞)and her husband Elder Chhua Khen-liong (蔡虔良)  returned to Taiwan to leave last year.

There are many episodes and interesting stories to illustrate Elder Lo’s life as a Christian.  Here I will just cite several stories from the brief history of the deceased which I presented at the memorial service.  On April 27, 1927, the Lo’s were baptized by the Reverend Lien Tek-let (廉德烈) at the Thai-peng-keng (太平境) Church.  On December 5, 1937, Lo was appointed as Deacon of that Church.  When the KhuaN-Sai-Ke (看西街evangelical mission was elevated to be a branch of Thai-peng-keng Church, Deacon Lo was elected as Elder of the branch on October 12, 1941.

A story, though lengthy to narrate, is a very important part of Elder Lo’s life.  The old KhuaN-Sai-ke church was housed in a private residence in the middle section of the KhuaN-Sai Street.  The church hall faced the street.  Church service was often disturbed by all kinds of outside noises , and the hall was also shallow and narrow.  For these reasons, Elder Lo constantly imagined in his mind the picture of a new church building.

Operating business to build a church.

Elder Lo’s business was sufficient to support his family but there was a limited accumulation of savings.  After several years, a fellow businessman from Senhua (善化), who engaged in meat packing at the Cho-eng (左營) Naval Base, wanted to sell his enterprise.  Without any hesitation , Elder Lo bought the business with a considerable amount of licensing fee.  Then he signed a contract with the naval base to provide the base’s military personnel and families everyday with beef from at least ten cows.  In return for exemption from meat packing tax, the sale price was set to 80 percent of the market price.  Elder Lo’s goal was to realize his dream of a new church through this enterprise.

Unexpectedly, however, the meat packing businessmen of Kaohsiung county felt threatened by the invasion of the Tainan competitor and became openly hostile.  So ten businessmen from Kaohsiung(高雄), Kongsan(岡山) and Pintong(屏東) pooled their capital and formed a ten share group, and started to sell beef at the Cho-eng market at a deeply discounted price of 2 yuan per Taiwan kg (1 Taiwan kg was equal to 0.6 kg). The market price was then 3 yuan per Taiwan kg so the selling price at the Base should have been 2.4 yuan.  According to the contract, the price was now reduced to 1.6 yuan.  Whereas the other side needed to slaughter only one cow a day, this side had to slaughter ten.  Under such competition the extent of the losses were clear to both sides.  Although the loss sustained by each share of the competing partnership was fairly small, the loss on this side was more than 100 times that of each competing share.  As a consequence,  Lo’s bank deposit and operating funds were soon nearly exhausted.  The gold and jewelry were liquidated and so were three rental properties.  It was not possible to conceal the predicament from relatives and friends.  They all urged Elder Lo to quickly close down the business at Cho-eng.  However, Lo’s reply was “my purpose in operating the Cho-eng business is to build a church.  God will provide a way.”  This heart-felt remark was a strong conviction originating from his Christian faith and experience.  It was this conviction which sustained him against physical exhaustion and mental agony.  The opposing side anticipated that Lo would go bankrupt within a year.  In fact, he was already bankrupt.  Around this time Lo experienced many sleepless nights.  When employees woke up in the middle of the night, they often saw him reading the bible or praying.




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