賴永祥長老史料庫 ( Elder John Lai's Archives )

 Preface Remembering My Grandfather Rev. An-Ku Shaw

Written by Enchin Shaw Chen 蕭永真 撰


October 9th, 1953, was the last time I saw my grandfather as I was leaving home for America. It was four months before his 80th birthday. He passed away 10 years later at age 90. My first trip back to Taiwan was 29 years after I left home. To this date, I still wished, if I could only see him one more time….. My only consolation is that I feel his presence in my life all the time.

Grandfather lost his mother when he was five years old and lost his father when he was 13. Eventually he went to live with his oldest brother who with their father followed in the footsteps of Dr. George L. MacKay and were among the very first 22 student to be educated and prepared to become preachers even before Oxford College was built. They eventually entered to study at the Oxford College in Taiwan as the very first group of students to graduate. Grandfather himself also attended the school and was recommended as one of the very first three graduates to be ordained as ministers. When grandfather married grandmother in 1897, who was a daughter of a fellow preacher, she was the first woman at that time to be liberated from Foot binding practice against the social trends. He and grandmother raised 2 boys and 6 girls. All of his six daughters were also liberated from the torturous custom of Foot binding. In 1928 when grandmother passed away he became the single father to raise the two younger daughters, the youngest of whom was 12 year old at the time.

During his 13 years of service as the Sin-tiam church minister, he constantly advocated the need of schools for higher education for our young men and women. He proposed to Synod to request financial support from the Mother Church in Canada to build the schools. When the middle schools were built, grandfather was drafted as its educator and administrator. Eventually he spent the rest of his life 36 years as a supporter of George L. MacKay and as an educator in the middle schools.

I remember vividly an incident when I was a sophomore in college in Taiwan, my father told me that I should give up going to college and get a job to help younger siblings because he was not able to pay for my college tuition. Since I was the second of six children in our family, there were four younger brothers and sisters to be educated. I was very sad, because I felt like the end of the world, and end of my life. It was my grandfather who came to my rescue. He paid the last two years of my college tuition with his retirement savings. A year later he also paid for my passage to America and defended me from some social opposition about girls going abroad for higher education. He declared that girls should have equal opportunity to study as much as they want. He lived at a time when social trend was that even a well-to-do family would give away their daughters, or to not to take care of them and let them die in infancy. Grandfather was gifted with six daughters and he treasured every one of them. I was his oldest grand daughter in our family and was equally valued by him.

In 2002, when I went back to Taiwan for a visit, my third trip back to Taiwan in 50 years, I visited grandfather´s grave site for the first time. I saw the weather beaten deterioration of his tombstone, and it was impossible even to read the inscriptions. I decided to restore the tombstone. In 2005, a new one was built from enduring granite from nearby Mt. Kwoan-Im(觀音山), similar to the one used for grandmother´s tombstone, with tracing of the inscriptions in gold. The project was undertaken and directed by cousin Eng-Ki(陳穎奇), with consultation from cousin, Kenneth Ko(柯吉文). I was very happy with the result.

My late sister Siok-Chin(蕭淑真)was greatly impressed by the family history book written by our cousin on our mother´s side. This book talked a great deal about their grandfather who happened to be the brother of our maternal grandfather. So she suggested that I undertake the task of writing our own family history book to preserve all the important facts concerning our grandfather, the Rev. An-Ku Shaw, and others who are related to him. Besides, being so indebted to my grandfather, I too had a desire to record his attributes and legacy to inspire and educate our younger generations. It is undeniably true that, without my grandfather´s encouragement, support and financial assistance, I would not have made it to America to advance my education.

The Rev. An-Ku Shaw´s story should have been told and written a long time ago while thousands of his students were still alive and could attest to the personal contributions he had made to education and Christianity. Forty-four years have passed since my grandfather left us. So have most of his students. For the celebration of my grandfather´s ninetieth birthday, hundreds of his students came to rejoice with him. They all acclaimed his invaluable contributions in the nurturing of their minds and spirits to make them what they had become. Unfortunately there is no documented chronicle of what he did for them. When it comes to searching for historical materials concerning Rev. An-Ku Shaw, written materials are very limited. Furthermore, articles of our family treasures he had preserved for us were destroyed by floods in our old houses. Thus, what we have been left with are the memories of his older descendants who continue to cherish their precious experiences of being inspired and motivated by his scholarship, integrity, and Christ-like desire to excel in all things.

Another objective we wish to accomplish through this family book is to unite our scattered families across the Pacific Ocean through the sharing of family information and photos of years gone by as well as recent photos. Most of the younger relatives have never met each other. But I do hope that by having those families look at the pictures and also by reading something about the accomplishments of those people to whom they are related, they may come to know each other in the future, and take pride in being part of the flourishing legacy of the Rev. An-Ku Shaw.

We are very much indebted to our able writer, Julia Sun, Chih-Chun(孫芝君), who had just joined our large family through marriage only three years ago. She is the one who searched extensively for valuable materials concerning our grandfather. Somehow she was able to dig up much valuable information we never knew existed. In the future those who wish to join our extended web of families through marriages need not look far and wide, just read this book and to know all about it.

We are also very much indebted to Prof. John Lai(賴永祥教授), a historian and a library science professor. He tirelessly and exhaustively collected historical facts on the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan for decades with wealth of information concerning each family of God´s important servants, starting with the birth of Christianity in the northern part of Taiwan from day one. He had graciously offered the invaluable materials that were at his disposal to help us. In fact, the materials Prof. Lai gave us were the only written records made available to us concerning our grandfather´s important work and his family. We are also very grateful to our cousin Rev. Dr. David S. Chen(陳皙宗牧師) and his able wife Margaret for the final editing of the book, as his late elder brother Siek-Pi (陳皙比) had suggested. Only cousin David could have accomplished this task so beautifully.

I do regret that my late sister Siok-Chin is not here to see the completion of the family book she had envisioned. I am certain however, that she is watching from God´s eternal bosom how we were making progress in this project, and that she will be greatly pleased when it is completed. I am also grateful to my cousins who submitted their written statements to inform us of the way my grandfather loved them and exerted his good and unforgettable influences on them.

I entertain a strong hope that those who have obtained this book, both those who are related to the Rev. An-Ku Shaw and those who are not, will enjoy reading everything in it and be inspired by the way he dedicated himself to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and the way he conducted himself in a Christ-like manner to nurture his own grandchildren, educate his own students, and edify many others. Many who knew him looked up to him like a saint to learn from the way he spoke, smiled, taught, and behaved in a gentle, gracious, and responsible manner. If all those who read this book are moved to become more saintly people and thereby make human society more loving, more just, and more peaceful, all who have participated in the making of this book will have been abundantly rewarded.

Our first grand son Travis K. Chen arrived unexpectedly 18 days early. On December 21.2007 I guess he wanted to be included in the Family History Book. He surely got here in a hurry, just in time to be included. See photo on page45.

10/30/2007

 
 
 

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修訂日期: 2011 年 12 月 03 日