On the Wednesday before Easter (March 28), two shocking events gave
me renewed reason to ponder the power and reality of Christ’s victory
over death. That day was perhaps my most painful day in China. After so
years of calm, safety, and peace in the haven of Shanghai, I had a
double jolt of the sorrow that happens even in happy places.
That morning, I
got to the beautiful office building where I work about 15 minutes earlier than needed, so
I stood in the sunshine and began reading my favorite book on a
spectacular spring day. What a great day to be alive and to delve into
the text of my favorite sci-fi writer, Jiang Bo and his Heart of the Milky Way trilogy.
as soon as I began reading, there was a loud bang at about 8:20 that
something big and heavy had crashed into a window. Then a woman screamed
and ran right in front of me. Was she hurt? She seemed fine and soon
stopped running to take out her cell
phone and make a call. What was the problem? There was some commotion
among some of the staff at the entrance to the building, so something
I took a
few steps and saw something horrific: A man had jumped from our very
tall office building, apparently out of a window he had managed to open
on the 23rd floor, a corner office that probably was an executive
office. I think this might have been an executive from a hot high-tech
startup that I know is on that floor.
The man was obviously
dead. He had first hit the outwardly sloping glass of the lobby at the
ground floor and a glancing angle, but from what I could see was
probably in bad shape before ever hitting the pavement just milliseconds
later. I’ll spare the details. So troubling —
mostly because of the sorrow to know that a relatively young man was in
such pain that he gave up completely. I wish I could have helped, or
that someone could have helped him have the courage to go on. But
obviously not easy. I am so sorry for him and his family and friends.
A few hours later while I was still coping with that tragedy, one of
our dear friends, a family of farmers in a tiny village of Jiangxi
Province whose lives are interconnected with ours, sent me an even more
horrific image of their dear son, their eldest of two (the younger son
is the one I know best and may have mentioned here before, the one we
have tried to help with some surgical needs). He had been murdered in
Guangzhou and his bloated body had been dragged out of a river or canal.
Such anguish. The mother is devastated and can hardly move. The father
arrived there today to work with local police. We will go visit the
mother and younger son in distant Jiangxi Province on Saturday. So
overwhelming, so painful. We feel helpless but will try to comfort.
of you have already provided help for that family with the PayPal
donation button at the left. They have serious needs again (not just
because of the father’s recently operated brain cancer), so donations will be focused on them for a
The unnecessary death of a stranger caused pain
enough, but the murder
of a young man we spent time with last year was just heartbreaking. Both
tragedies encountered on the same day. There are things I need to
learn and to do in response to this double jolt. But what? Your ideas
The story took an even more painful twist
few days later when the father told me that the police in Guangzhou
told him that it was not a murder, but a suicide. The father said that
his son had been unable to earn enough to survive but did not want to
disappoint his parents by asking for help, and so had given up.
Believing that the death was a suicide (I’m not convinced the police
know that for sure) seems to have further magnified the pain of the family. Devastating. The natural tendency for loved ones to blame themselves in the wake of a suicide is in full swing, I’m afraid.
(Much of this experience was
previously shared on my Facebook page. Thanks to the many people who
have given me inspired counsel and support in coping with these issues. There is much that I need to learn from this.)