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Daddy, Do Not Be Afraid!

Daddy, do not be afraid!

When I opened the door to the hospital ward, I saw my father-in-law holding tightly onto the two sides of the hospital bed, staring at the ceiling and trembling all over. My wife quickly told him, “Daddy! Do not be afraid!” But he continued to shiver. His hands continued to grasp sides of the bed tightly until in the morning.” Bro. Yang Jianzhang recalled how his father-in-law, a gentle and upright man, who has never done anything against his conscience, faced the threat of death, how he walked through the “valley of death”, and how he was filled with fear about the unknown world.

However after my father-in-law was baptized, he was able to sing, “I am going back.”  He knew where he was going, and so he became completely serene and calm”.  Yang Jianzhang personally witnessed the difference in the mental and emotional state of his father-in-law before and after he was baptized, and cannot help but testify about this wonderful act of God.

I do not need a religion

Chai Jingzhu (The father-in-law of Bro. Yang Jianzhang, Sis. Chai Cunhui’s father) is from the county of Pingtung, Taiwan.  He was born in 1929, and worked as a teacher in PingtungMunicipalChungZhengPrimary School for 44 years, sacrificing his entire life to the research and promotion of education in the arts.

“My father was a humble, kind, optimistic, forbearing and sincere man, who was a good teacher, a good husband and a good father.”  Was how Chai Cunhui described her father.  Yiang Jianzhang recalls him as “a man who led a simple life, he did not have any vices, he was a gentle and amiable man, who did not quarrel with people.  Even before he believed in the Lord, he behaved so much like a Christian.” 

However the more self-discipline and self-respect he had, the more difficult it was for him to accept the gospel.

Chai Cunhui was the sole believer of the family. After she got married to Yang Jianzhang, the both of them thought constantly about preaching the gospel to her parents.   However her father always said, “As long as a man does not do anything against his conscience, there will be nothing to fear, and naturally he will lead a good life.  If all young people have their own religion, then who will worship the ancestors!”  His words made them feel really helpless.  However, with the protection of God, he passed by each day smoothly and peacefully.  As such, Yang Jianzhang and his wife did not feel any sense of urgency to preach to her parents.

This urgency arose 15 years ago, when Chai Cunhui’s mother passed away due to gastric cancer. Unwilling to trouble his children, her father Chai Jinzhu insisted on residing alone.  However, Chai Cunhui worried constantly about her father and called him daily to ensure that he was alright.  She also tried to convince her father to come to the north to stay with them, however, he often brushed off the suggestion.

In September 1998, she finally managed to convince her father to come and stay in Taipei.  (Upon his insistence, it was arranged for him to reside in a five star senior citizens condominium – Runfu Xinxiang, located in the vicinity of the residence of Yang Jianzhang and wife.)  Yang Jianzhang thought to himself, “The opportunity has finally arrived!”

However, after moving to Taipei, Chai Jinzhu became even busier.  During his treatment for diabetes, he came to know Dr. Hong Jiande, and with his encouragement, he took up a job as an art teacher for art classes conducted specially for diabetic patients.  He did such a great job teaching art that even the media came to interview him.  Everytime Yang Jianzhang and his wife invited him to church, he would either say that he was too busy and that there was no need for him to go.

Fear during serious illness

In March 2000, Chai Jinzhu came down with a cold which lasted for longer than a month.  After one month, there was still no signs of recovery.  His daughter brought him to the doctor, and after further tests it was confirmed that he had contracted lung adenocarcinoma, and that the cancer cells had spread to the bones.  Chai Jinzhu was in the fourth stage of cancer and the doctor estimated that he will most probably live for only another half a year.  “In order to give father the will to live on, we only told him that it was cancer, but did not tell him that it had spread to the bone.”  Chai Cunhui suppressed her sadness when telling her father about his condition, but deep inside her, her heart felt very heavy.  She knew that the happy moments, free of worries, that they used to enjoy in the past were now gone, and that the way ahead of them would be a very heavy one.

During the treatment period, Chai Jinzhu endured all types of pain and suffering without a word or murmur.  With the mercy of God and the meticulous care of Chai Cunhui, he lived peacefully for another year.

However in 2001, after Chai Jinzhu had undergone 32 times of chemotherapy, he began to feel the pain where the cancer cells spread to his bones. The tumor wrapped around his lumbar, and the pressure from his pelvis resulted in him not being able to stand, making him only able to move around in a wheelchair.  With the advice of the doctor, he began to undergo radiotherapy.  Unexpectedly, his condition worsened with each day, and he became weaker and weaker, throwing up even any bit of water that he drank.  Yang Jianzhang and wife had to send their father to the hospital once again.

On November 3rd, it was the tenth consecutive day that Chai Jinzhu had not taken any food.  At that day, the hospital informed them that Chai Jinzhu was in a critical condition.  When Yang Jianzhang and his wife rushed to the hospital, they saw their father staring at the ceiling, with both his hands grabbing tightly onto the hospital bed and his entire body trembling…. “This was the first time I saw my father in-law in such a state of great fear.  When he was well and healthy, he often emphasized that as long as a person did not do anything against his conscience, there will be nothing that he needs to fear.  However in actual fact, for a person who does not know the Lord, because he does not know where he will be going after he closes his eyes, he will feel terrified.”  Yang Jianzhang saw how fearful his father in-law was when faced with death.  He did not even dare to sleep but continued to tremble in fear. 

Subsequently, the doctor suggested that they send Chai Jinzhu to the hospice.  It was only then that Yang Jianzhang and his wife realized that their father was not going to “return home” with them anymore.

Pray to God to bestow him spiritual life

On November 10th, after Yang Jianzhang attended Sabbath service, he decided to go to the MackayHospital to take a look at the environment of the hospice.  When a sister got to know about this, she said, “Your father in-law is so severely sick now, why is it that you still have not brought him for baptism?”  When Yang Jianzhang heard this he felt very perplexed and helpless. He thought to himself, “For the past 19 years, we have been trying to preach to him but did not have an opportunity. Now that he is so severely ill, how would he receive baptism

The next day on November 11th, Yang Jianzhang went to Banqiao for fellowship and lessons. However he continued to worry about his father in-law’s hospital transfer, and he felt very upset, as the doctor told him that his father in-law would only live for another one more month.  As he drove, he tuned into various channels on the radio, and unexpectedly he heard the True Jesus Church radio channel. He immediately stopped at this channel, and listened to the testimony of how Bro. Chen Rencai dedicated himself to become a preacher.

During Chen Rencai’s gastric cancer operation, after the doctor has made the incision, he came out of the operating room to tell his wife, “If I continue with the operation, your husband will die on the surgery table today.”  However Mrs Chen said, “We believe in the Lord, just go and do what you need to do!”  This testimony deeply moved Yang Jianzhang and he felt a great source of strength welling up from within. 

After he returned home, he promptly told his wife: “Our father does not have much time left.  In the past we often said that we want to preach to father, now we should grab hold of the opportunity to ask God to bestow father with spiritual life.”  That night, the both of them prayed about this matter in one accord.

The next day, on the morning of November 13th, Yang Jianzhang called his parents in Pingtung, as well as the brethren in Danshui church, requesting them to pray about this.  He also called the resident preacher of the Danshui church at the time, Pr. Chen Shengquan, requesting that he visit the hospital at least two to three times a week, to testify of the gospel to his father in-law.  Pr Chen Shengquan agreed.

The elder brother of Bro. Yang’s wife rushed back from U.S. the next day.  That night, they transferred his father in-law into the MackayHospital, a very large hospice.  Due to the lack of parking space, both Yang Jianzhang and the elder brother of his wife returned to their home in Danshui.  However at that night, they received a call from his wife Chai Cunhui informing them that, “The doctor predicts that father will not be able to pull through tonight.  Bring a mat for my brother and yourself to sleep here at the hospital!”

Bring him for baptism tomorrow!

When Yang Jianzhang put down the phone, he thought to himself, is it really true that God has forsaken father in-law?  In his moment of helplessness and confusion, he once again called his parents in Pingtung and the brethren in Danshui, hoping that they can intercede for his father in-law.  When Pr. Chen Shengquan received news of this, he called Bro Yang to inquire about the situation.  Yang Jianzhang replied, “My father in-law will not be able to live past today!”  Pr Chen asked him in return: “Jianzhang, do you have faith?  First thing tomorrow morning, we will bring him for baptism.”  When he heard this, Yang Jianzhang was stunned for a moment, after which he said, “Ok!”  Following this, he called his wife, and Cunhui said submissively, “Very well, we shall entrust father’s life into the hands of God.”

After everything had been arranged, when Yang Jianzhang was about to go to sleep, he suddenly remembered that his wife was the sole believer in the family. He  would need to inform his wife’s elder sister, elder and younger brother about this matter, and to seek their consent.  Therefore, he first made a call to her elder sister in U.S. As she was a Christian, she said, “It is just sprinkling of water, fine, go ahead with it!”  Yang Jianzhang then explained to her, “In our church, we practice according to the teachings of the Bible, that is, we have to be fully submerged in living water during baptism.”  When the elder sister heard this, she exclaimed “Wow!” and agreed.

Next, he made a phone call to her younger brother.  He was not a Christian, therefore it was more difficult to communicate the idea to him.  After talking to him for a long time, he finally agreed.  The last person he had to go through was his wife’s elder brother.  Because he had already taken sleeping pills and was fast asleep, Yang Jianzhang thought to himself that he would tell him about it the next morning.

At the following morning, he woke up his wife’s elder brother.  On the way to the hospital, Yang Jianzhang mentioned to him that the entire church was interceding for his father’s baptism that morning, and testified to him that the spiritual life is more important than physical life.  However there was a cold current passing through then, and the temperature has dropped to below 13, and during baptism, father will need to be completely submerged in the Danshui sea.  The elder brother thought that Yang Jianzhang had gone crazy, and turned to look at him in disbelief.  Yang Jianzhang continued to say that very often when a person is severely ill at the point of baptism, the weather will be very bad, for this was God’s test of the faith of the family members.

The elder brother replied him saying, “Father is already so sick, how can he get into the water?”  God gave Yang Jianzhang faith at that point in time to say, “Don’t worry! God will prepare hot water!”  The elder brother then said, “We’ll see what father says when we reach the hospital.”

God will prepare hot water

When he stepped into the ward, he saw his wife and an Indonesian maid crying, their eyes were swollen.  His father in-law was left with barely a breath, his blood pressure had plunged to 40, and he was unconscious.  Yang Jianzhang gathered his courage and told his wife Cunhui saying, “Have faith, bring father for baptism.”  He also asked his wife to tell his then unconscious father in-law that, “Father be rest assured, the Lord Jesus loves you, the Lord Jesus will save you today!”  After Cunhui said this, her father, who was unconscious, suddenly woke up and said, “I think I am about to be reborn today.”

When he saw Yang Jianzhang and his elder son he even said, “You are here already!”  Yang Jianzhang quickly asked his wife to enquire of his father in-law, “Father, do you want to believe in the Lord Jesus?”  His father in-law replied, “Sure!” “Father, shall we bring you for baptism today?”  Father in-law replied, “Sure!”  Yang Jianzhang promptly used the video-recorder to record this as proof of father’s desire to believe in the Lord.

Subsequently, when his wife’s younger brother arrived, the first statement he made when he stepped into the ward was, “It’s raining outside!”  then he turned to his father Chai Jinzhu saying, “Do you know that after you are baptized, you cannot hold joss sticks anymore?”  Chai Jinzhu answered saying, “It’s alright!”  Then he called his elder son to his side saying, “From henceforth you shall be responsible for worshipping, for buying the fruits…”  He spoke in a very organized manner, an evident sign that he was still very clear-minded. He also proclaimed that from henceforth, he will no longer worship idols.  Seeing that his father was so alert, his youngest son asked him, “Are you hungry?”  Chai Jinzhu, who was unable to eat any food for more than ten days said, “I am hungry.”  Following this, he speedily finished half a bowl of porridge.

Where is the hot water?

After finishing the porridge, he changed his clothing and waited for the preacher to arrive.  At around , the preacher arrived.  Yang Jianzhang then went to arrange for an ambulance to bring his father in-law to the beach for baptism.  Along the way, the weather was very cold and the wind strong.  Yang Jianzhang kept comforting his wife’s elder and younger brother saying, “The Lord Jesus will prepare hot water.”

When they arrived at the baptism site, the brothers and sisters from Danshui church were already there singing hymns.  Yang Jianzhang and his family members carried Chai Jinzhu who was seated in a wheelchair down from the ambulance.  There was a brother who volunteered to piggy-back Chai Jinzhu into the water, but he said unexpectedly, “I can walk there by myself!”  Everyone was shocked to hear this.  Amidst the hymn singing of his family members and church brethren, Chai Jinzhu smoothly underwent the sacrament of Baptism.

After he returned to the car and got changed, on the way back to the Danshui church, the elder and younger brothers of Bro Yang’s wife remain straight-face and did not utter a single word. They were thinking to themselves: “Father must have caught a chill.”  Never did they expect to see Chai Jinzhu’s face slightly red when they arrived in church, even greeting everyone saying, “Hallelujah!”  Following that, the Footwashing and Holy Communion sacraments were completed.

Chai Jinzhu was in good spirit when they returned to the hospital, and he said to his children, “Today I have received baptism, and fulfilled my wish of over ten years. It is as if I am receiving baptism on behalf of your mother too.” 15 years ago, Chai Cunhui’s mother underwent an operation for gastric cancer, and was also treated with chemotherapy for two to three weeks. However, she soon after suffered a stroke and sank into unconsciousness. While in this state, she kept repeating, “Hallelujah!”

During that point in time, Chai Cunhui requested the preacher to conduct baptism for her mother. However because Chai Cunhui was the sole believer of the Lord, the preacher hoped to wait until Mrs. Chai has awakened, and in to express her desire for baptism before conducting baptism for her. Therefore the church brethren were requested to intercede for this matter.  However Mrs. Chai never did wake up.  Never did they expect that after more than ten years, this was something still on Chai Jinzhu’s mind.

Not long after Chai Jinzhu said this to his daughter, he had high fever and sank into unconsciousness once again.

That night, when Yang Jianzhang was on the way home, Cunhui who was filled with many thoughts and feelings said, “Never have I dreamt that the Lord Jesus would let father receive baptism in such an amazing manner.”  Then she added saying, “Jianzhang, today the weather was so cold, didn’t you keep testifying that the Lord will prepare hot water for father?  I would definitely be blamed by my brothers because father has caught a chill.”  Jianzhang was dumbfounded for a moment, so he said, “Everyone has different experiences.”

The next day, Jianzhang accompanied his wife’s elder sister who has rushed back from U.S. to the hospital to visit Chai Jinzhu.  When they opened the door of the hospital ward, they found Chai Jinzhu wide alert and eating!  Because of this, Cunhui felt at ease and hence decided to return to school for classes.  Jianzhang accompanied his wife to the train station, and along the way Cunhui asked once again, “Didn’t you say that there will be hot water?”  She appeared to be brooding over the matter of father catching a chill.

When I went into the water, it was hot

Yang Jianzhang’s parents and elder sister rushed to the hospital to visit Chai Jinzhu after his baptism.  When they were chatting, they unexpectedly heard the following testimony which the second sister recorded.  Chai Jinzhu suddenly said, “I have something important to say. Firstly, I have been baptized today.  Secondly, by receiving baptism I have fulfilled my wish of ten over years, and it was as if my wife has also received baptism.  Thirdly, I have let the Lord Jesus down by undergoing baptism only after such a long time.  Fourthly, today when I was receiving baptism, even though the weather was very cold, there were many brethren who turned up and showed concern.  But what was even more thankful was that when I went into the water, the water was hot!”

When Chai Cunhui returned home, she also heard this recording.  “Thank the Lord, when I went into the water, the water was hot!”  The Lord Jesus had truly prepared hot water!

Your staff and your rod shall comfort me

One week later, Chai Jinzhu suddenly sang a Japanese folk song “Sunset” (He did not know how to sing hymns), the last phrase of this song was, “I want to return!”  It was as if he was telling everyone that he can leave in peace now.  Two days later, after Yang Jiangzhang and wife have prayed for him and as they were holding his hands, he passed away peacefully.  The couple held onto his hand and prayed, “Father, peace be with you!  Only people who have received the Lord Jesus can receive true peace, joy and eternal life.”

When Yang Jianzhang recalled this experience, he said with much thanksgiving, “Through the choosing of my father in-law, God strengthened the faith of the both of us, and enabled us to experience his great grace.  For the past 19 years, we have tried to use our own ways and means, but we just could not convince my father in-law to accept the gospel.  However the Lord Jesus only made use of three days’ time, after which my father in-law, who was originally unconscious, awoke and received baptism.  What was even more amazing was that with faith I said that there will be hot water, and there truly was hot water!”

Because of this amazing grace, Yang Jianzhang grabbed hold of every opportunity that he has when leading services in various churches to testify about this.  He personally witnessed how his father in-law who has been an upright man all his life, when faced with the threat of death, manifested what the author described in Psalms, “Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.” (Ps 55:5), and after baptism, he immediately experienced peace, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps 23:4)

Indeed, it is a great blessing for someone to be able to “leave the world peacefully”, and brings great comfort for the relatives who are grieving.

Author: Feng-Mei Chen