“Quan…are you afraid?”
“I have been reciting a poem written in honor of a missionary martyr. It was widely printed throughout my country. My father had a copy in his Bible and under the desk in case his Bible was taken. I memorized it many years ago. I wrote it on my wall with the soap last week. When you are a great floor scrubber you have access to plenty of soap! It was first written in English, so I memorized it in English. May I recite it to you?”
Afraid? Of what?
To feel the spirit’s glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid? Of what?
Li Quan stopped. He turned his head suddenly.
“What wrong?” Ben asked.
“For a moment…I didn’t hear my voice. I thought…I heard another voice, perhaps two or three voices saying the words. I am sorry Ben. Maybe my mind is becoming unclear.”
“No problema. I’d trade my mind at its best for your mind at its worst. Why don’t you rest for a while and—”
“I will continue.” Quan thought a moment, looked up, then said.
Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Savior’s face
To hear His welcome, and to trace
The glory gleam from wounds of grace?
Afraid? Of what?
A flash, a crash, a pierced heart;
Darkness, light, O Heaven’s art!
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid? Of what?
To do by death what life could not—
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
‘Til souls shall blossom from the spot?
“You sound like you think you’re going to die,” Ben said.
“Of course I am going to die, Ben Fielding. As are you. The only question is ‘Is this the day I die?’ If it is, we should both be ready, should we not?”
“Please take a message to Ming and Shen. Tell them I love them and I will see them again. Give them this verse from Galatians: ‘Don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.’ Tell them the most important words are dao le shihou—‘when the time arrives.’”
One moment Li Quan looked solemn, and the next, a smile crept across his face.
“What is it?” Ben asked.
“Do you remember how I always wanted to write a book?”
“Of course. You were going to be Professor Li Quan, author of many books.”
“A locksmith’s assistant does not become a writer. Yet I am writing a book on the walls of my cell.”
“After I work all day cleaning the other cells, I use a thin piece of soap to write my outline on my wall. When I am satisfied, I memorize it before sleeping. Then I recite it in the morning and begin writing again. Of course, there is no one who actually reads my book. I do not expect it to be published! Still, this is perhaps another joke of providence. Dao le shihou—the time has arrived for Li Quan to write a book!”
The child hung on his mother as they lay back in their bed.
“What is wrong with my Li Shen?” his mother asked softly. She wiped his tears.
“What are they doing to Baba?”
“I do not know. But I know Yesu is with him.”
“I don’t want them to hurt him.”
“Neither do I.”
“I want my Baba to come home.”
“Soon he will be home, safely home,” Ming said. “I sense it. But until then he wants his Ming and his Shen to draw their strength from Yesu.”
Shen drew near and cried upon his mother’s neck. Their tears trickled down, mingling together.
They watched the King, surrounded by a great crowd of angels bringing their concerns before Him. While few of them were permitted this close to His throne, these had special access—not because of who they were but whom they represented.
Li Manchu, Li Wen, and Li Tong came close. Because of their relation to the King, their blood was royal and their access unrestricted. The King drew them into the surface of His vast mind, that they could see what He saw—children abandoned and living on streets, abducted, beaten, molested, cut to pieces by men dressed in white, exterminated by human pesticides.
“See that you do not look down on these little ones,” the King said, projecting His voice toward the dark world so loudly it was heard on earth as thunder. “For I tell you that their angels in heaven always behold the face of My Father.”
The King pointed to a church custodian yelling at children unauthorized to play on the swings and chasing them away. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
The King spoke to people out for Sunday dinner after church, who turned away from the street children. “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”
Then He watched a man and a woman taking children off the streets, bringing them into a building, giving them a warm meal and a cot and safe refuge, and telling them about their Master. On the other side of the planet, in Africa, He watched His people caring for children born with AIDS, many of them orphans now, or soon to be.
He watched His people give the children a warm bath, read stories to them, hug them, and laugh with them. He smiled broadly. “Thank you,” the King whispered, “for doing this to Me.”
He looked now at men plotting and stalking and taking pictures of children, doing to them the unthinkable. He looked at men herding frightened little girls together and selling them to foreigners. He looked at the men in white coats, driving beautiful cars purchased by the blood of children. He looked at those who inflicted the suffering. His eyes smoldered.
“I made these children. I took them into My arms, put My hands on them, and blessed them. And yet you scorn them, use them for your gain, treat them as disposable. It would be better for you to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea than the face what I will surely do to you.”
He looked now at others who turned their heads from the children, too busy to share a meal, a blanket, or a paycheck. They did little or nothing to help the children, and He regarded their failure to help as the inflicting of harm. “To you who look the other way, saying My children are not your concern: Repent! For it is I you have turned away from. I will not forget.”
He gazed at another group of people, those watching out for and reaching out to and helping the children. He said simply, “Well done. Your reward shall be great.”
The King watched the children again, though the men knew He had never stopped watching them. For a moment He smiled, then laughed; then suddenly He saw something else. Tears flowed from His eyes; then they burned with a blistering heat.
“Many on earth look away from the children,” said Li Tong to Fu Liko. “But the eyes of heaven never look away from them. Never.”
Sunday morning Quan recited Shengjing and wrote it on the wall with his sliver of soap, raising both hands as he wrote, since his wrists were manacled together. He wrote what he knew to be the words of Paul, written before he was beheaded by Nero: “The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed… And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Quan read the words, recited them, prayed them. He also prayed for the house church—for his and tens of thousands of others spread across his great country.
He heard the key turn in his lock. He expected food, but what he saw was Tai Hong. Quan shuffled backward.
“You distributed illegal Bibles. Others helped you. I want names from you. Names of Chinese and names of foreigners. If you give me those names, I will get you out of prison. If you do not, I will hurt you.”
“I cannot betray my brothers.”
“Then deny the Christ you profess to believe in. If you do that, I will go easy on you.”
“I cannot deny my Lord.”
“A Chinese citizen’s loyalty is to the state!”
“My loyalty is to Yesu, Lord of heaven, Lord of China.”
Tai Hong slapped Quan with an open hand and cried out from the sting of his own blow. Angrily, he pulled a flashlight from his belt. He hit the side of Quan’s head with it, breaking the hard plastic molding. Now Hong held his hand, feeling even more pain.
Quan dragged himself to his feet. Hong raised the flashlight in the air, poised to strike again. Then he threw it against the wall. He drew a large pistol and pointed it at Quan, finger on the trigger. Then he shifted it in his hand, raised it high, and swung down the pistol’s butt against Quan’s head. It landed with a crunch. Quan’s skull gave way.
“This is the day,” said one father.
“Die well, My son,” said the Other.
* excerpt taken from "Safely Home" by Randy Alcorn, pages 354-359