Who Can Help Me Return Home?
Ten days before the start of the Lunar New Year, vast areas of South and Central China experienced heavy snow and a deep freeze, damaging many electrical networks and crippling the land transportation system. Thus there was a shortage of coal for fuel, electrical blackouts and stoppages in water supply, airport closures, interruptions in rail service, collapses of buildings, and reductions in crop yields. This once-in-50-years snow storm glaciated half of China, affecting 20 provinces and cities, with over 100 million victims and 60 fatalities to the present. The economic loss is estimated to be up to 50 billion Renminbi.
The wintry disaster caused hundreds of thousands of travelers returning home to be stranded for days at various highways and railways. At one point, workers hoping to be home for the New Year holidays jammed train stations all along the Beijing/Hong Kong Railway. 800,000 people were at the Guangzhou Station at the peak. From TV news reports, we saw hordes of people crowding the streets leading to the station. Militia in green uniforms formed human chains to block the swarming, but failed to turn back the tide of these workers desperate to go home. Although the destinations of these travelers might be different, they all had the same goal, and that was to purchase a ticket and get a seat so they could be home. To earn a living, these workers all left their home towns to seek employment at a southern city. After laboring for a whole year, they longed to return home early before the New Year to reunite with family members and enjoy the kinship. Regrettably, this unusual year-end snow storm swept these wayfarers under a carpet of “White Terror”, so that they were obliged to endure over-crowding, hunger, thirst, shivering, distress, rage, anxiety and concern for days outside the station. A scene of human tragedy that was unforgettable to this writer was when a reporter interviewed a worker who had waited many days outside the station but could not get on board a train, and he could only wipe off tears and say, “miss home!” A news photograph that also tucked at the heart-strings showed graffiti on a wall of the station that said, “I want to go home!”
These hundreds of thousands of itinerant, hard-toiling, unable-to-head-home guest workers made this writer recall an episode from the time Christ was on earth. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” (Mark 6:34) God sent His Beloved Son to the world to seek, save and bring back those lost souls who are oppressed by sin, have lost their way, and are wandering beyond their Heavenly Home. Therefore, the Son of God used the parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Son to express the anxious desire of our Heavenly Father for the prodigal son to return home, and to point out how joyful it is to our Heavenly Father and His angles for those who were lost to turn back (Luke chapter 15).
Dear brothers and sisters, what do you feel when you see the suffering now faced by our compatriots in the Grand Old Country? Although there has been more snow in Vancouver this year than most, we all have our own, warm homes. How favoured we are compared to these workers enduring days of cold and hunger outside the stations! This Spring Festival, when we are gathered together with our families, consider how blessed we are compared to those travelers unable to go home because of stoppages in transportation! At this period of one year giving way to the next, when you are safely at home enjoying many bountiful and hot dinners with your family members, have you thought about the numerous families in many towns and cities in Hunan province suffering through ten miserable days without electrical and water service? Would you offer thanks for the grace bestowed to us by God? Would you intercede in prayer for the suffering experienced by our fellow countrymen there in China? Dear brothers and sisters, blood is thicker than water. Does the picture of these workers jostling each other for a chance to go home fire up your fervor to bring family members back to the Lord? Are you who bear the same yoke as the Lord willing to expend all of your efforts to lead those compatriots who are all around you to know God and to return to His Household?
“I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.” (Ezekiel 34:15-16)
By: Daniel To