Chen Faguan and the Waiguoren (Foreigner)
By Gan Di Xiong of Taipei City, Taiwan, Republic of China
Instruction given previously about baptism was proper to ensure the rise and cohesiveness of the church during its early development and in following years. However, as a growing number have come to understand, the redemptive action of God in Christ—while uniquely and authoritatively expressed through the church—is not confined solely to the church.
God’s grace, revealed in Jesus Christ, freely moves throughout creation, often beyond human perception, to achieve divine purposes in people’s lives. In harmony with God’s will, the Holy Spirit leads some people already committed to Jesus Christ through Christian baptism to further focus their response through church membership. —Doctrine and Covenants 164:2a, b
Each morning at 7:00 I take a walk around the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial gardens with Chen Faguan. Chen, a Taoist, is the retired Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of China and a mentor for lawyers. Together we read the morning paper and take our walk.
He acts as if taken aback, though privately pleased, by his friend of more than four years. Others in the park gaze upon this odd couple—one, an esteemed Taiwanese gentleman, the other, a waiguoren, a commoner of no distinction.
On their walks, the latter taps his cane in various rhythms in sync with the other. It is a reflection of their oneness and deep, quiet love for each other.
However, the waiguoren walks to a different tune—sometimes an embarrassment to the one of higher position. He picks up litter along the way and deposits it in the refuse container further on. A black and white pigeon flies to his palm and swallows the peanuts there. There is a word of encouragement (you can do it) to a partially paralyzed morning walker who shuffles exhaustingly along his way. He hands a breakfast box to a homeless man known to be schizophrenic. He thanks a mute gardener sweeping the paths and compliments him for his part in preserving the beauty of the park.
When leaving the garden, the judge looks out his open limousine window to see his walking partner brazenly wave to the First Lady. She, her sister, and their accompanying entourage are taking their morning stroll. They as usual, with smiles, wave back with trust at this waiguoren who is now on his bicycle. It happens many times.
What of this waiguoren? This is not about him. It’s about the worth of all persons. It’s about actively treasuring everything under, on, and above the earth. It’s about generously sharing God’s peace so others and creation have this peace. Chen Faguan knows.
Prayer for Peace
Help us to know your peace, God. Whether from positions of power or more humble lives, help us treasure the generosity of creation.
Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How does God invite you to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.
Today, God, I will walk humbly and reverently with you by my side.