For the first part of the evening, as another man shared, he stared blandly somewhere near his knees. Then someone asked him to pray. He rose up and his voice bellowed forward, melodic and rhythmic and it filled the room in a way his frail frame did not suggest was possible. "His Name is Wonderful!" he repeated several times. And I knew he believed it in a way I have yet to learn.
He has lived in China for more than twice the number of decades I've been alive, and he has seen changes most people will never relate to or understand. He spoke of many of those changes and the testimony of faithfulness of His God whose Name is Wonderful. He has tested that faithfulness through war torn years, change of power, dark and tense years when much of life as we understand it was being undermined and even destroyed, and finally, in prison.
His Name is Wonderful he said, and this man believed that for that Name it was worth standing in prayer before a building that was being bulldozed to the ground, because it was built for the Name. Bulldoze away, they said, we will rebuild it again. And they did, and again they knocked it down, and again they rebuilt and now it still stands. But stronger than that building is the faith of these men and stronger than their faith is the One they put their faith in.
One of our white faces stood up to share our thanks, for being able to sit at the feet of these men as they shared their stories and their hearts for their country with us. We feel small, he said. We are humbled. Faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain, and though our faith felt so small it is the size of the one we have faith in that really matters. And in that, we were all brothers and sisters, perhaps worlds away in culture, experience, history, age, and maturity, but clinging to the one whose Name is Wonderful in any age or land.
And what did I learn? That perhaps a stripping away of all that seems necessary can be a purifying thing for gathering worshipers. That for some, starting a school that aims to teach from a Logos-Worldview is a frightening and important venture that is vital to the minds and hearts of the next generation, not merely another school option. That old men who look like they are sleeping, are just waiting to stand up and shout Hallelujah. That some people get geeked about rock concerts or celebrity sightings, but this is where I become a hopeless and pathetically adoring fan.
Dear Old Man, I could listen to you sing out "His Name is Wonderful" for the rest of my days, and someday... I will.