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Parents' Gift to Their Son: Two Message Stones

I grew up in a China that had been ravaged by two centuries of European and American adventuring, and then by World War II and a brutal civil war. We lived in Nanjing, which was then the nation's capital, but there were few good schools to go to, so at the age of five I found myself setting off by plane to a boarding school in Shanghai.

Obviously, the conditions behind the decision to send me out at that age were extreme, and I was not the only one launched on that path so young. But it was the first time in my life that I had been away from my parents and on my own. So, to give me a constant reminder of the North Star of the faith at the center of our family life, my father had searched for two small, smooth, flat stones and painted on them his life motto and that of my mother. For many years those two little stones were tangible memos in the pockets of my gray flannel shorts that were the uniform of most English schoolboys in those days. In my right-hand pocket was my father's motto, "Found Faithful," and in my left-hand pocket was my mother's, "Please Him."

Many years have passed since then, and both of those little painted stones were lost in the chaos of escaping from China when Mao Zedong and the People's Army eventually overran Nanjing, returned the capital to Beijing and began their iron and bloody rule of the entire country. But I have never forgotten the lesson of the little stones. Followers of Jesus are called to be "found faithful" and to "please him," always, everywhere and in spite of everyone and everything.

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