Gospel, Knifepoint

At about 10AM this morning in the middle of Albert’s sermon, Mrs. Hu bursts into the sanctuary and I hear a flurry of hurried murmuring behind me and the flutter of a hundred heads turning. “Someone call 911!”

Mrs. Hu, wife of Pastor Jack Hu of the Chinese congregation we share our church with, was robbed at knifepoint this morning in our parking lot. A young man cornered her as she was getting out of the car and threatened her for her purse.

What the hell? Someone would rob a middle-aged lady on a Sunday morning in front of our church in broad daylight?

Pastor Jack later on that morning greets me warmly as he usually does with a warm, two-handed handshake. His hands are soft: a minister’s hands.

“Andrew,” (he addresses me with grandfatherly affection), “Oakland needs Jesus.”

Eighteen years ago, Pastor Jack is leading a prayer meeting in the chapel when a man runs in, grabs him and holds a knife up to his head.

“It’s crazy,” Howard, an old-timer at our church tells me later. “That man robbed everyone in that prayer meeting while they knelt on the ground.”

Today, Mrs. Hu’s hands are bleeding, and Pastor Hu is holding onto mine.

“I don’t have any money, but I have the Gospel,” Pastor Jack tells the man with the knife held to his head. I imagine that his eyes are bright and his hands are warm, even as they are held against his back.

Eighteen years later, Pastor Jack’s family and his aging Mandarin-speaking congregation are still here in Oakland, a city they still believe needs Jesus. They are a congregation that believes in staying rather than fleeing. They are Chinese believers who live out Gospel renewal, leaving a generational legacy that I am proud to call my own.

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