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

 An-Ku Shaw: A Saintly Minister

Written by Rev. Dr. David S. Chen


The Rev. Shaw, An-ku(蕭安居牧師)was an outstanding minister of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan started by the first missionary, the Rev. Dr. George Leslie Mackey(牧師偕叡理博士)of the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1872. He was born in 1874. As the youngest in the family, he grew up in the vicinity of a small town, known as Tho-hng, southwest of Taipei city, in Taiwan. But at God´s appointed time, he rose up to occupy a very important position in the Presbyterian High School in Tam-chui, northwest of Taipei, to exert his scholarly Christian influence upon many students. History indicates that many of his students did become dedicated followers of Jesus Christ to make their able contributions everywhere in Taiwan. Those of us who are able to call him our grandfather or great grandfather realize that we have come from a very special ancestry and give thanks to God for it.

An-ku´s father was Shaw, Tai-sun(蕭大醇), a sincere and pure-hearted Buddhist scholar and herb medicine man, who tried to live a compassionate and merciful life by practicing non-killing vegetarianism. In 1873, when Dr. Mackey came to his neighborhood to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, he came to realize that man´s moral efforts alone would not make man as good as he was meant to be. He was made aware that, only through man´s renewal of life in Jesus Christ to think and act with the wisdom and power given by God, human beings could truly live together harmoniously with love, mercy, forgiveness, joy, thanksgiving, and hope nurtured in Jesus Christ. He was a famous man in the area; therefore his becoming a Christian believer gave many others the incentive to do the same. He stopped his vegetarianism and the practice of herb medicine in order to follow Dr. Mackay to study more about the Christian faith based on the Bible. Initially he was sent to offer free education to children in Sin-tiam at a little school established by Dr. Mackay.

Eventually Dr. Mackay encouraged him to study theology at Oxford College in Tam-chui. Definitely it was by God´s special calling that Shaw, Tai-sun a Chinese scholar and a reputable medicine man, came to study theology to become an effective Presbyterian preacher. Upon his graduation he was sent everywhere to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to establish churches. After two decades or so he suffered from a poor health and had to discontinue his ministry. Dr. Mackay kindly offered him to stay in his summerhouse in a little Island, known as Sia-liau (社寮), near Koe-lang, to recuperate. But in a year or so he passed away to be with God forever at the age of sixty-one. It was through this wonderful man´s influence that his four sons all became followers of Jesus Christ, and even came to study theology at Oxford College in order to become preachers of the gospel.

The oldest son was Shaw, Tien(蕭田), who, upon graduation from Oxford College, went to many localities to preach as a preacher. An-ku was only five when his mother died and when his father died he was only thirteen. Since An-ku was too young to be independent, he went to live with his oldest brother Tien. Whatever locality Tien moved to for his preaching, An-ku would also go there to live with him. But, An-ku wasted no time. Wherever he went, he sought to study Chinese classics under a reputable teacher. Soon he became quite a scholar on Chinese classics and could even recite many of its famous sayings. When he was old enough to be accepted, he went to study theology at Oxford College to become a Presbyterian minister, as his late father had wished. He was ever grateful to what his oldest brother, Tien, did for him.

The second son was Shaw, O(蕭湖), who also studied theology at Oxford College. Hearing that his father had to go to Sia-liau to get recuperated, he kindly volunteered to go there to live with him and took care of him. After a year or so his ailing father passed away. He, however, continued to stay in Sia-liau, and eventually became a prominent merchant to do business and to encourage others to believe in Christ. On account of what Shaw, O did for his dying father, and his success as a merchant, the remote Island of Sia-liau became a special place of memory and attraction to the family members of An-ku Shaw.

The third son was Shaw, Tong-san(蕭東山),who had an imposing stature of six feet tall with gracious goatee under his chin. He also studied theology at Oxford College, and became a very able preacher. In addition to being eloquent, he was full of courage having no fear of anything or anyone. Being such a talented and capable man, the Mission Board sent him to do difficult works in difficult places, and he did it successfully. After having served several churches with success, he was chosen to be the teacher of the Amoy dialect namely Taiwanese for the newly arrived missionaries from Canada. He continued this teaching job for more than ten years. He too was attracted to Sia-liau, so he spent the rest of his life with his second older brother Shaw, O.

The youngest son was Shaw, An-ku(蕭安居), who, by the time he went to study theology at Oxford College, was already an accomplished scholar on Chinese classics. After the completion of his studies, he was sent to serve the Church in Pat-li-hun, on the opposite side of Tam-chui, across the river, for a couple of years. Then he moved to Tho-hng, his native town, and served the Church there for four years. From there he moved to Sin-tek. While he was there, in 1905, having passed the qualification examination administered by the education committee, he and two others, his brother-in-law, Tan, Chheng-gi(陳清義), and Keh, Hi-sin(郭希信)were ordained to become full-fledged Presbyterian ministers in the early period of the history of the Presbyterian Church in northern Taiwan. During the ordination service An-ku was chosen to preach, and his text was Deuteronomy 31:6 concerning being strong and fearless in the service of God. From there he moved to serve the Church in Sin-tiam for thirteen years.

An-ku followed John Calvin´s tradition of expounding the teachings of the Bible in his preaching. But, being well-versed in the Chinese classics known as The Four Books and The Five Scriptures(四書五經), he often quoted from the Chinese classics out of memory to draw people´s attention, and then smoothly led them into a serious consideration on his biblical messages. He always showed for the newly arrived missionaries from Canada. He continued this teaching job for more than ten years. He too was attracted to Sia-liau, so he spent the rest of his life with his second older brother Shaw, O.

The youngest son was Shaw, An-ku(蕭安居), who, by the time he went to study theology at Oxford College, was already an accomplished scholar on Chinese classics. After the completion of his studies, he was sent to serve the Church in Pat-li-hun, on the opposite side of Tam-chui, across the river, for a couple of years. Then he moved to Tho-hng, his native town, and served the Church there for four years. From there he moved to Sin-tek. While he was there, in 1905, having passed the qualification examination administered by the education committee, he and two others, his brother-in-law, Tan, Chheng-gi(陳清義), and Keh, Hi-sin(郭希信)were ordained to become full-fledged Presbyterian ministers in the early period of the history of the Presbyterian Church in northern Taiwan. During the ordination service An-ku was chosen to preach, and his text was Deuteronomy 31:6 concerning being strong and fearless in the service of God. From there he moved to serve the Church in Sin-tiam for thirteen years.

An-ku followed John Calvin´s tradition of expounding the teachings of the Bible in his preaching. But, being well-versed in the Chinese classics known as The Four Books and The Five Scriptures(四書五經), he often quoted from the Chinese classics out of memory to draw people´s attention, and then smoothly led them into a serious consideration on his biblical messages. He always showed them some connection between the moral teachings in the Chinese classics and the moral teachings in the Bible but never failed to tell them that, unless one is born again and be renewed in Jesus Christ, no one in his or her sinful state of existence, could truthfully live a good moral life of love, justice, righteousness, forgiveness, compassion, humility, joy, thanksgiving, endurance, and never-dying hope. Thus, through the aid of the Chinese classics, he made the Calvinistic tradition very much alive in his preaching. Those who took interest in his exposition of the classical sayings in their own culture were effectively led by him to consider becoming Christian believers. His mind was so full of biblical teachings that, even in his public prayers, he often used biblical language to express his personal faith, or aspiration, or commitment, or thanksgiving, or gratitude, or hope without hesitation. Since he had inherited his father´s herb medicine book, he also could tell others what herbs to use for their sicknesses, thereby being able to help them recover their physical health. When his daughter Bi-chu´s second son, Sek-giau(皙堯)had kidney infection at the age of four, he prescribed two herbs(水燈香、對葉蓮)to be cooked with omelet to be used as medicine. Sek-giau ate it for several days and the infection disappeared. He was the one who eventually became a famous professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the National Taiwan University´s Medical School to teach many medical students and help many patients.

Since under the control of Japan, the government was not interested in giving much education to the youths among the Chinese in Taiwan. On February 14, 1905, when the Taipei Presbytery met, An-ku proposed that they establish a Christian High School to educate their own people. It was well supported. After much consideration, on account of the lack of the financial resources, on September 24, 1907, the Presbytery resolved to ask the Missionary Council to negotiate with the Mother Church in Canada to help establish such school. The Mother Church quickly consented. After several years of preparation and efforts, finally the spacious campus with all its impressive big and small buildings made its appearance on the beautiful hill of Tam-chui near the sea. Dr. George William Mackay(偕叡廉), son of Dr. George Leslie Mackay, was appointed the principal of the High School to begin its full-scale education. It was out of An-ku´s keen Christian foresight that such an important school was born to raise the educational level of the people in Taiwan. While the School was in session, they realized that someone special had to be there to help the entire business of education and the students in their needs. When both the church leaders and the principal agreed to choose An-ku to be that man, they could not have done better. They negotiated with the Church in Sin-tiam to release An-ku from his pastorate to begin serving as the chaplain and the administrator of the school, the dean, and the supervisor of the student dormitories. Thus he went to Tam-chui and began to avail himself to faculty and students. They quickly came to know him as an excellent pastor,a wise counselor, and a smooth manager. In his busy schedules he always had time for anyone who needed him. Regardless of the circumstances, he was always gentle and gracious, never failing to show his smiling face to the people he was dealing with. Sometimes he could hear some young and mischievous students using a funny name to refer to his coming, but he made no issue out of it, and continued to conduct himself in a gracious and peaceful manner. The longer students lived with him, the more they came to realize that he was someone very special. So they came to love him and called him “a saint." There were many workers under him, but he always treated them with respect, kindness, love, and justice, therefore they had nothing to complain against him. Indeed, he was an able and confident Christian man who made peace with everyone.

An-ku married Tan, Chin-jin(陳真仁), the oldest daughter of the Rev. Tan, Eng-hui(陳榮輝牧師). Between them, they reared two sons and six daughters. The oldest daughter was Bi-chu(美珠), who was an excellent organist. Due to her music ability, after the graduation from the High School she was asked to stay to teach organ. Afterwards, she married the Rev. Tan, Khoe-chun(陳溪圳牧師), a graduate of Doshishia University in Japan, majoring in theology. He was the oldest son of Tan, Liong-ko(陳兩故), a successful businessman in Taipei. He was handsome, a good swimmer, a good singer, a good mountaineer, strong-willed, but always friendly, patient, gentle, and optimistic. He was sent by the Mission Board to serve a little mission church called Siang-lian church in the outskirts of Taipei. The people he served were mostly laborers and poor, living in little dark clustered houses. Their children were often barefooted. But he served their children well. He taught them the essence of the Christian faith and how to sing well. Consequently, many of them became excellent choir members to sing for the church. In due time, many of them also became well educated to serve people in Taiwan and elsewhere. In addition to being a diligent and faithful preacher and pastor, he was also an excellent moderator to officiate the complicated Synod meetings. He was so good in moderating the controversial discussions that people kept re-electing him to moderate the Synod. There was no one more frequently elected to be the moderator of the Synod than he was. He served this little Siang-lian church for fifty-five years until it came to possess an eleven-story tall building on the prime location in Taipei to provide ample spaces for Sunday worship and all other activities, and enough extra spaces for rental to generate much money for the mission work. While he served this church Bi-chu was always at the organ to assist people´s singing when they met four times each week for worship and prayers. Bi-chu certainly exhibited her never-yielding endurance to continue her music ministry for over half a century.

An-ku´s second daughter was Bi-giok(美玉), a devout, gentle Christian lady. After graduating from our High School, she married Koa, Sek-kai(柯設偕), grandson of Dr. George Leslie Mackay. He was a graduate of the National Taiwan University, majoring in literature. He, however, took much interest in history and did do much research on the subject. Therefore, he was invited to teach history at the High School in Tam-chui. He was a learned man, but always humble, unassuming, and happy meeting and talking to people. He was well received and appreciated by the Presbyterian Church as a whole. That is why he was made an interim-principal a couple of times, once in 1947, and once in 1951. He spent all his life there teaching history and literature. Therefore, his contributions were great.

An-ku´s third daughter was Bi-tek(美德), a happy jolly person. She married Tan, Leng-thong(陳能通), an outstanding scientist. His father was the Rev. Tan, Ong(陳旺牧師), one of the older generation Presbyterian ministers. He was a graduate of the National University of Kyoto, Japan, majoring in science. He was well qualified to teach mathematics and science at our High School in Tam-chui. He was a typical scholar who was coolheaded, contemplative, reserved, and wasting no words talking about things that were of no significance. But he had a gentle heart, always facing people with a kind smile. In teaching mathematics and science, he was very serious, allowing no nonsense to take place on the part of his students. Therefore, they all had to study hard and become well acquainted with the subjects. He was also a serious Christian thinker. In order to improve his Christian knowledge, he even took the trouble of taking his whole family to stay in Tokyo, Japan, so that he could study theology there. Wherever he went, people showed great respect for what he had been doing in our Christian High School in Tam-chui. Eventually, in 1946, he became the principal of the High School. Unfortunately, the following year, on account of some of his students participating in the incident of protest against the Chinese government, known as 2/28, 1947, he was dragged out of his home during the night by soldiers from the mainland of China and was mercilessly massacred without trial and without trace. It was the most senseless and cruel thing we had ever encountered. But his legacy ever remained strong in our High School in Tam-chui and in the life of those whom he taught.

An-ku´s fourth daughter was Bi-hoai(美懷). She was intelligent and kind, but cautious and reserved. After graduating from our High School, she married her father´s former handsome student, named Tan, Peng-hiok(陳炳郁). He was from a wealthy family in Eng-ko, but was kind, humble, and easy to get alone with. He had a flourishing business in his hometown, but lived a relatively quiet life, so he was not as well known as other sons-in-law.

An-ku´s fifth daughter was Bi-biau(美妙). She was beautiful, kind, and sociable, but she was somewhat late in getting married. She married a medical doctor by the name of Sim, Ki-chiong(沈祈彰), who had a good practice in the southern part of Taiwan. This was his second marriage, so he had two small children to be looked after by Bi-biau. She loved his children just like her own and steadily served their needs as a good mother until they were able to be independent.

An-ku´s youngest daughter was Bi-oan(美完). She was slim, tall, and a good pianist. She was not talkative, but always kind and gracious. She married Lu, Choan-seng(呂泉生), a famous musician. The songs that he composed have become favorite songs in Taiwan. Each time he composed a new song, Bi-oan would play it on her piano to make sure that it sounded good and satisfactory to their ears. He was famous baritone soloist and an excellent music teacher in a regular high school in Taipei. While he was teaching, he also organized the famous Rong-Shing Children´s Chorus(榮星兒童合唱團)to teach boys and girls how to sing beautiful choruses together to inspire people. His Chorus became so famous, and the children sang so well that, each time they performed, the music hall was jam packed with people. His music contributions to the people in Taiwan were tremendous. Upon his retirement they both came to live close to their children in California.

An-ku´s older son was Lok-sian(樂善)who was tall, intelligent, gifted, but kind, and gracious. He was a graduate of the Theological University in Tokyo. He was a scholar and had a big accumulation of good books in his library. He served several churches including the church in Sin-tiam where his father previously served. He was a talented writer and also a great athlete. At one time he even went to compete at one of the Olympic games. He was a good violinist and loved to play famous pieces at home. He was also a good pianist and loved to play Bach´s compositions with continuous flow of melodies and harmonies. Besides, he was a competent piano tuner. When the Seventh Fleet of USA came to Taiwan after the Second World War, they needed a Christian minister to serve as a chaplain to the American sailors. At that time few among the Taiwanese could speak English, but Lok-sian was quite fluent in English, so he was asked to serve the American sailors. Towards the end of his ministry he was chosen to serve as the secretary of the Northern Synod. He was a good administrator, and a good communicator through his skillful writings. His wife, Mia(陳麵), was also a graduate of our High School in Tam-chui. She was from a wealthy family in Siong-san, and was a happy, kind, talkative, and big-hearted person. They both believed in liberal education and allowed their children to pursue whatever field they took interest in without parental interference. Their children were always happy, and grew up well to pursue a profession of their own choice with much success. Towards the end of his life he came to live with his oldest daughter Eng-chin in Washington D.C. area, and helped her two sons and two daughters to grow up well. He passed away there at age ninety-two.

An-ku´s second son was Khek-chhiong(克昌). He was an excellent student who sustained his straight A average all through his years in primary and high schools. Since he grew up in the vicinity where the children of principal William Mackay lived, he learned to converse with them in English, so English was never a problem to him. He was a soft-spoken man of deep faith in Christ and was always kind and gracious to people. He too played piano well. Since he was such an excellent student he was able to study medicine in Japan, but unfortunately he contracted tuberculosis there, and had to come home. His condition gradually worsened, and passed away at the young age of twenty- seven. The whole family deeply mourned for the passing away of this wonderful man. But in his short span of life, he did show forth the glory of God by making the best use of his God-given talents to excel in whatever he had to do among people.

In addition to An-ku´s own wide-spread influence, and the contributions that his two sons-in-law were making on the campus, he also had two other outstanding teachers on the campus who were related to him. One is Tan, Chheng-tiong(陳清忠), his wife´s brother. He was a graduate of Doshishia University in Japan, majoring in English literature. Shortly after he had returned from Japan, he married Shia, Hiong(謝香)of Bang-kah church in Taipei. It was through the mediation of his famous brother Tan, Chheng-Gi(陳清義), the minister of that church, that they came to know each other. She was beautiful, kind, and patient, a trained nurse, and a certified midwife, although she never practiced it. Through their happy marriage they reared seven girls and seven boys. They all became successful people to make their useful contributions to church and society. Chheng-tiong was a very good bass singer. While studying in Doshishia University he was a member of the renowned Glee Club, which toured around different countries to inspire people with their beautiful singing. At that time, Tan, Khoe-chun, who was an excellent tenor, was also there, so they sang together. While Chheng-tiong was teaching English in our High School in Tam-chui, he skillfully translated many hymns and gospel songs into Taiwanese, and people loved to sing them. His contributions to church music in Taiwan were priceless. He himself often sang in a male quartet to inspire others. He was also well built, and an excellent rugby player. While he was in Japan he played much rugby, so he knew the game well. In addition to teaching English full-time, he also created and coached a rugby team on the campus. His team became so good that, more often than not, they were on the winning side. Of course, Khoe-chun married Chheng-tiong´s niece, so they became inseparably close. They were so close that often Chheng-tiong and his wife would travel all the way from Tam-chui to Taipei to attend worship at Siang-lian church officiated by Khoe-chun, and afterwards enjoy eating lunch together cooked by Bi-chu.

The other famous teacher related to An-ku was Tan, Keng-hui(陳敬輝), who was his wife´s nephew. Keng-hui had a gracious Japanese wife and was an outstanding artist. He was humble and soft-spoken, but was a competent person. His students enjoyed being taught by him, and his art works were greatly admired by people everywhere. One piece of his art work stands out in the eyes of many church people, because the beautiful sketch of the chapel of Taiwan Theological College that he had donated keeps appearing on the cover of every magazine that the College sent out to the supporting churches, institutions, and individuals. No doubt, this special piece of art will continue to make its appearance as long as this College continues to be.

While An-ku was exerting his great influence in our High School in Tam-chui, his able two sons-in-law, Sek-kai(設偕), and Leng-thong(能通), were also making their able contributions. Besides, his brother-in-law, Chheng-tiong, and his wife´s nephew Keng-hui were also there to make their own unique contributions. Those people came to occupy their important positions, not because they were related to someone powerful, but because they, by their own right, were highly qualified people. They just happened to be in the same place at the same time in accordance with God´s timely provision to meet the school´s needs. As young kids, we often spent our summer vacations with grandpa An-ku, and enjoyed running around all over the campus with nobody in sight except us kids. We felt just as though the whole campus belongs to us kids. It provided the most safe and enjoyable place for us to explore and have fun every day. Besides, while we were there, the people we called grandpa, or uncle, or great uncle were all big shots in that school. Psychologically this made us proud of ourselves, on one hand, and quietly created within us an incentive to strive to become as great as they were, on the other.

There was another area in which An-ku made his unique contributions. In addition to being a scholar on Chinese classics, he was also a Chinese artist. He was famous for his Chinese calligraphy. After all, Chinese characters are pictorial. Therefore, when people write with pen, they had to draw picture-like characters. Consequently some can do it more beautifully than others. When An-ku used his pointed brush with black ink to write Chinese characters they were strikingly beautiful. People who were impressed by his writings often asked him to write words of a Psalm, or words of Jesus, or words of Paul on a scroll to be placed on their wall as an art object for all to see and admire. Today one can still see An-ku´s beautiful calligraphy hanging on a wall in many Christian homes in Taiwan. One can also see such exhibition at the entrance of Taiwan Theological College in Taipei. Years ago An-ku, with a large pointed brush, vertically wrote five big characters, “Tai Oan Sin Hak I" (臺灣神學院)on a big piece of wood to be hanged at the entrance of the College. This piece of beautiful calligraphy has been there for many years for people to see. I hope that people will find a way of preserving it intact for years to come.

An-ku officially retired from his work at Tam-chui High School in 1950. He was there for thirty-six years. He encouraged many good students to study theology to become Presbyterian ministers. From 1930s to 1980s, most of the active Presbyterian ministers in the northern part of Taiwan were An-ku´s former students. But his Christian influence spread beyond the confine of the church organization. Many of his former students became famous doctors, professors, lawyers, judges, engineers, and businessmen to bring their Christian impact upon the whole of human societies in Taiwan. After his retirement An-ku continued to strengthen small congregations. He even helped raise much money to build the Presbyterian Church in Eng-ko. In his old age, he was happy in the thought that many of his grandsons and granddaughters were becoming successful people both in Taiwan and abroad.

An-ku spent his retirement years in Taipei. In February 1964 some 200 of his former students came to celebrate his 90th birthday, and in July of the same year he passed away to be with God forever. The funeral service took place in Siang-lian Church attended by some 500 people. He was laid to rest in the Mackay Cemetery in Tam-chui. Since he was very young when his mother died, and when his father died he was only in his early teens, he did not receive many years of parental love and care. Yet, by the grace of God, and through the nurturing of the gospel of Jesus Christ he became a strong, confident, and capable minister and educator to make his great contributions to church and society. To have this wonderful man as our grandfather or great grandfather is a great honor indeed. May those who read this booklet be inspired by the story of this saintly minister, and come to acknowledge all the marvelous things that God has been doing in the history of mankind in the midst of many tragic events, and give thanks and praise to Him.

10/01/2007

Author: The Rev. Dr. David S. Chen,

Third son of Bi-chu and Khoe-chun,

Former professor of theology and principal,

Taiwan Theological College, Taipei, Taiwan,

Former minister of The First Reformed Church,

Ridgewood, New Jersey

 

此網站由李秀卿女士撰寫程式建置並義務作維護。如果您對本網站有任何建議或指正之處,請 聯絡我們。謝謝!

Copyright (C) 2007 年1月 [賴永祥長老史料庫 ]
修訂日期: 2011 年 12 月 03 日