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In Loving Memory of My Older Brother Dr. Timothy Lin

By Lin Daomao

Yesterday morning I received my daughter's telephone call. She said that our eldest brother Lin Daoliang (Dr. Timothy Lin) passed away on October 11 at 10:30 AM Western Time. He was born on January 18, 1911 (lunar calendar - December 8, 1910). In three months he would have been 99 years old. It shouldn’t be a pity when someone passes away after living such a long life. However, when I heard this news, deep sadness still came from the bottom of my heart.

Our home town is HengBanQiao Village in Zhejiang Province Wenling County. I do not know the reason, my eldest brother was 1 or 2 years old at the time, also it was the first year of the Republic of China, our father led our mother and eldest brother to seek refuge in Christian churches in Linhai, in the Tientai area. Our father started to work in the church, later he became assistant to the pastor, finally he became a missionary, did not return to our home town till the early 1930s.

Because of this Christian background, my two elder brothers and two elder sisters were all sent to Linhai County's Missionary school when they were young children. It was a boarding school named JinAi Elementary School. They lived there, enjoying the love and care of the church, rarely going back home even during winter and summer vacations.

I have a  slight memory of entering elementary school. By then I could read a bit of a letter. Our eldest brother was already the pastor of Xinian Hall at Zhaofeng Road in Shanghai. At that time he was only about 24 years old.  Our father was very proud of his achievements. Before the Anti-Japanese War erupted, he became the president of Wuzhou Holy Bible Institute, in Guangxi Province Wuzhou, starting his lifelong theological education and career.

When our eldest brother went to Wuzhou, his newly married wife also went along with him. His wife, named Jin Jufang (Daisy), was the eldest daughter of Mr. Jin Yangquan. Mr. Jin was the President of Yangquan Hospital in Wenling County Zeguo Town. She was our eldest brother's schoolmate in elementary school.

After the Anti-Japanese War started, Wuzhou suffered Japanese airplane bombings many times. In January, 1939, because the Wuzhou situation was very dangerous, the Holy Bible institute decided to move to a small village at the Chinese and Vietnamese border to continue classes. When the teachers and students, altogether around 30 people, rode the ferryboat passing Nanning area, suddenly three Japanese airplanes appeared in the sky, shooting towards the ferryboat. Our sister-in-law and their baby daughter Beibei unfortunately got hit and died on that site. I have seen a picture of our sister-in-law holding Beibei in her hands; also a picture of our eldest brother wearing a mourning band around his arm, standing beside their graves. I still remember the scene when our mother received our eldest brother's letter and the picture, then burst into tears, screaming. At that time I stood beside our mother and felt helpless. Thinking about it now still makes me feel sad.

Several months later, our eldest brother traveled across the Pacific Ocean, and went to an American theological school to study theology and Hebrew linguistics. In the summer of 1941, Pastor Ji Zhiwen invited him to return to Shanghai, taking the position of Education Director for Shanghai Bethel Theological School, where Pastor Ji was the principal.

Bethel Mission was an independent church system founded in 1920. The founders were the first Chinese female medical Doctor Shi Meiyu and an American missionary Miss Jenny V. Hughes. Bethel Mission had gospel halls, hospitals, Nurses Training schools, elementary and middle schools, orphanages and theological schools, located in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Hebei Province Daming, Guizhou Province Dushan and Bijie.  They also had a publication called "Holy Guide". I learned the news of our eldest brother's return to our homeland from "Holy Guide". I remembered that it was summer time.  Two people who worked in a tax affairs office several miles away came to our house, and said that they must pay a visit to Pastor Lin Daoliang’s father. In the "Holy Guide" magazine they brought to us, there was the news of two pastors Lin and Ji, who had returned to our homeland to organize the Shanghai Bethel Theological School, also with their picture.

When returning to our homeland, our Eldest brother went by Hong Kong, and married Miss Wu Wei-en. Later I saw a movie of their wedding in the Bethel Orphanage, approximately several minutes. It felt so rare and interesting when I saw it.

In October, 1941, shortly after our Eldest brother returned to our homeland, our mother's sister's husband, who was a carpenter in Shanghai, returned to Wenling, to take his two sons’ fiancées to go to Shanghai. His two sons were also the carpenters in Shanghai. At that time I was out of school and staying at home, our father wanted me to study haircutting, but our mother did not agree because my nearsightedness made me unsuitable as a barber. Then both of them agreed to send me to Shanghai. Therefore, me and our 3rd elder brother, who was an apprentice at that time, were brought to Shanghai by our mother's sister's husband. I entered Bethel Middle School, and our 3rd elder brother worked as an apprentice in the small pharmacy which our 2nd elder brother operated.

At first, the theological school and the middle school both were located in Beautiful Garden at Big West Road. The school building was free, provided by a realtor who believed in Christianity. In December 1941, after the Pacific War began, Pastor Ji and his wife (at that time, she was the Principal of Bethel Elementary and Middle Schools and concurrently Orphanage Chief) were leaving Shanghai, going inland. Before they left, they decided that my eldest brother should be Acting Principal of Bethel Elementary and Middle Schools, concurrently as Orphanage Chief. Therefore various classes of Bethel Middle School all returned to the elementary school and orphanage location - - a big mansion at Jisifeier Road, it had been Wen Zongyao's official mansion. Soon, the theological school closed down, and our eldest brother also moved to Jisifeier Road.

The Bethel Orphanage's funds originally depended on foundation member Miss Jenny V. Hughes and so on to collect in the US. After the Pacific War started, this financial source was cut off. The donations from local Christians and the philanthropists were very limited. In those years, our eldest brother was leading Bethel's staffs, going through great hardships, living very simply and at low cost, trying every method, and pleading everywhere possible, barely maintained food and clothing supplies for the 200-300 people. So everybody was kept away from cold and hunger for more than four years of time. A big measure was opening the door of the middle school, and recruiting some day students. The students originally were the children who grew up in the orphanage. By recruiting some students from the society, and charging tuition fees, the whole organization was subsidized.

The religious atmosphere in the orphanage was very rich, beside services each Sunday, evening services every night and prayer before three meals a day, they also often conducted cultivate the spirit meetings, testimony meetings, foreign missions, Bible study and other activities. There was a grand celebration party on Christmas day.  The students put on singing and a show by ourselves. After having the day students, the tenable youth fellowship was organized, to attract non-Christian students. Some schoolmates also organized the choir, to sing hymns on Sunday to other churches. When the Shanghai foreign settlement fell to the enemy four years later, these young people and children depended upon their Christian faith, which made their impoverished and difficult lives happy and filled with hope.

Our eldest brother believed that the Bethel Middle School and the Orphanage were entrusted to Him by God. Therefore he offered his complete body and mind to this sacred work. From the education to the life, from raising intelligence to common morals, from hiring teachers, arranging the curriculum and the student schoolwork and the extracurricular activities, from the daily necessities to orphans’ clothing in cold weather, he got involved in everything, with a loving heart and a great mind, to conquer every large or small problem. One schoolmate met me several years ago, and mentioned that he got a sore festering on his leg and our eldest brother and sister-in-law cleaned his wound and put on the medicine many times, until it was healed, for which he was grateful all his life.

Our eldest brother was also very strict on himself. He had very low wages, only sufficient to maintain the basic needs, and sometimes he needed our 2nd elder brother to give him financial aid. There was once, I have forgotten whether it was our sister-in-law’s 30th birthday, or her beloved son Sam’s (Rong Ping) first birthday, she gave each orphanage schoolmate ten cents, so the children could cross the street to eat a bowl of wonton. That day everybody was so happy and joyful. Afterward I learned that the money for the several hundred bowls of wonton was given to her by our 2nd elder brother.

After the victory of the anti-Japanese War, Bethel’s original leader Hu Meilin, Lan Ruxi and others came back, so our eldest brother left Bethel after passing on the work. Shortly after, he went to the Suzhou Theological school as the principal. Afterward he became the principal of a theological school in Hangzhou. After I went to Beijing University in October, 1946, our sister-in-law wrote me several letters, with pictures of her and Sam (Rong Ping) in Hangzhou. At the beginning of 1948, during winter vacation I returned to Shanghai. Our eldest brother and sister-in-law were preparing to go to the US. That day, early in the morning, I rushed to Saint John's University, where they stayed overnight in somebody's home. Our eldest brother and sister-in-law were leaving with the famous translator Mr. Huang Jiayin and his wife (our sister-in-law's good friend). I went with them to 16 shop wharves, seeing there was a sea of people in the wharf, most of them were Jewish. At that time Jews in Shanghai were leaving Shanghai, via the US to go to the Palestinian area. Our eldest brother and sister-in-law were taking the same ship with these Jews traveling to the US. Waving goodbye to them, I could not imagine that we were parting with them forever. Today, 61 years later, the picture of seeing them off at 16 shop wharves emerges again in my mind, that noisy scene still comes clearly into view, as if it just occurred recently.

Our eldest brother left home in his childhood. Among our nine brothers and sisters, I am probably the person who stayed with him the longest time, about five years. Since he went to the US the second time, at the beginning of 1948, I have never seen him again. After China’s reform policy, considering certain special factors, he was not able to return to his native land and home town.  It is rather regrettable. However, seeing some pastor's circumstances in China, I then felt that it was better for him not to come back home. Across the Pacific Ocean, in another people’s land, he could realize his lifelong personal goal of serving God, working to his full potential in the Christian church. Because I have not contacted him for a long time, it is hard for me to guess his concerns about his native country. But from my contacts with him in my youth, I know he was very concerned about our motherland's future and the national destiny of China. I still remember that he seriously discussed matters, about the 19 route army in Songhu during the anti-Japanese War, with the theological school students. 61 years ago his move to the West was voluntary. But for all those years he could not return to his native country of China. He was forced to stay away because of the current regime. [Now his soul has already been turned over to Heaven. I hope to see him again some day in God's Kingdom].

On October 17, 2009

(Edited by Dr. Robert L. Hymers, Jr.)