Written by Rev. Dr. David S. Chen
The Rev. An-ku Shaw was my grand father (mother´s father). He was a Presbyterian minister. He lived in Tamsui, northwest of Taipei, for a long time. He had three older brothers, among whom, Shaw, Tong-san, the third brother was also a Presbyterian minister. Tong-san was famous for teaching missionaries the Taiwanese language, and was well respected. When he came to Taipei to visit us, my mother, An-ku´s oldest daughter, Bi-chu, would treat him with the famous Chinese pork stew known as “lo-bah.＂ My mother used the shoulder portion of tender pork mixed with water, whole yellow onions, and the homemade soy sauce produced according to her mother´s recipe. After more than two hours of cooking with low heat, the meat would be very tender; the whole pot would be full of appetizing aroma; it would be ready for joyous consumption. In addition to eating delicious tender pork, Tong-san immensely enjoyed eating the yellow onions whole saturated with delicious pork gravy.
An-ku Shaw was a successful minister in Sin-tiam. He was faithful in the proclamation of Christ´s gospel, kind and tenderhearted, and good at bringing people into the church. He was well known within the Presbyterian Denomination and well supported by all. Eventually, he was recommended to be teaching Chinese classics in the Presbyterian High School and Seminary in Tamsui.
He was a systematic and orderly man. He always managed business very smoothly. Therefore, the High School in Tamsui asked him to help improve the administration, including the management of the student dormitory. His main job, however, was to teach Chinese classics.
He was a gentle person who was full of love and grace. But he was also a dignified person who refused to do things haphazardly. In his teaching, he was serious, always expecting his students to have a good understanding of the traditional teachings of the Chinese. Those who studied the Chinese classics under him, after the graduation, not only lived a good and proper life for themselves, but also helped others to live likewise. High school students, being young and mischievous, often called him: “The sun-baked old man.＂ But he was never angry, making no issue out of it. He had such a beautiful and likable character that students, teachers, and office workers all showed him a great respect.
An-ku Shaw also taught Chinese classics in Taiwan Theological College in Tamsui. Thus, the theological students also gained much knowledge on the traditional teachings of the Chinese to help make their ministry among people effective. The teachings of the Chinese classics are very good. But people who were sin-driven could not put them into practice. What An-ku Shaw wanted to do was to let the theological students understand and support the teachings of the Chinese classics on one hand, and help transform people´s lives in Christ, on the other, so that being converted and renewed to do God´s loving, merciful, and righteous will positively and willingly, they might be able to rise above their own sin to practice the good teachings of the Chinese classics successfully. Those who studied under him eventually became good and effective Presbyterian ministers to serve the people in Taiwan. During the latter half of the twentieth century, most of the Presbyterian ministers in Northern Taiwan went through the philosophical training that An-ku Shaw had provided. Thus, he exerted a great influence in the success of the Presbyterian Mission in Taiwan.
The students, whom An-ku Shaw taught in the Tamsui High School and in the Seminary, after graduation, effectively communicated the gospel of Jesus Christ to establish new churches to help transform the lives of many people. The Rev. Tiu, Khun-oan＂, the Rev. Ti, Kun-hong＂, the Rev. Tan, Su-ti, the Rev. Tan, Iau-chong, the Rev. Toh, Hui-liong, the Rev. Tan Lan-ki, the Rev. Oan, Hu-lai and many others were An-ku Shaw´s former students. From this we can clearly understand how influential An-ku Shaw was in the corporate efforts of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan to advance the cause of Jesus Christ among the people in Taiwan.
For example, the Rev. Oan, Hu-lai was An-ku Shaw´s former student both at the High School and at the Seminary in Tamsui. Over the years, the Rev. Oan faithfully proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ for five congregations, established three new churches, and helped construct two new church buildings. The beautiful church in Sam-kiap was constructed during his able ministry there. When the Rev. Shaw, Lok-sian, An-ku Shaw´s older son, was serving the church in Tiong-lek, Hu-lai was attending his Sunday School and was taught by him to master the Romanized Taiwanese. Later, when Hu-lai went to Tamsui to study, he was taught by An-ku Shaw both at the High School and at the Seminary. While he was serving the church in Sam-kiap, the Rev. Oan, Hu-lai also went to Eng-ko, a much larger place, to organize a new congregation. At that time he used An-ku Shaw´s fourth daughter, Bi-hoai´s house, as the place of worship to bring people in. And when Bi-hoai passed away, the Rev. Oan, Hu-lai kindly rendered all the necessary services to help her family in time of sorrow. Thus, we can see how Shaw, An-ku, Shaw, Lok-sian, and Shaw, Bi-hoai made their respective contributions towards making Oan, Hu-lai a successful minister, and how Oan, Hu-lai extended his useful services to Shaw, Bi-hoai´s family. They had such a beautiful and meaningful connections with one another, which only God could have made it possible.
Shaw, An-ku was a man of character who refused to antagonize or speak ill of others. He also treated all his grand children with love and kindness. Every summer he was surrounded by a large group of small and active grand children, who were constantly running in and out, constantly looking for food and drink, and constantly talking and yelling to create great commotions. But he graciously accepted them for what they were, and generously fed them, housed them, and took a good care of them. In his big storage there was always a large mount of watermelon ready to meet the needs of hungry and thirsty grand children. When grand children yelled and ran around inside the house, he would only say, “Chheh, disorderly,＂ and move on to do his work without uttering nasty words. Having gone around to catch cicadas and crabs outside, grand children would come home for a drink with dirty hands and sweaty faces. He would ask them to form a long line in front of him and let each one go to him with open mouth to receive a candy. Since their hands were dirty he did not want them to touch the candies. He was that kind of a gracious sanitary man.
He was a well-disciplined man who seldom showed his personal anger. When Oan, Hu-lai had just graduated from the Seminary, the Commission on Mission sent him to serve a church in a remote and inconvenient place on the east coast. He was not eager to go and was angry. So he personally went to see An-ku Shaw, the secretary of the Commission on Mission, and used strong words to protest against their decision. He expected An-ku Shaw to be responding with strong words of his own. But to his surprise, An-ku Shaw accepted his protest with a pleasant face and empathy, and tenderly encouraged him to accept the appointment with kind and intelligent words. He was not angry at Hu-lai´s protest at all. The Rev. Oan, Hu-lai is now over ninety years of age, but still telling people about how, in his younger days, the Rev. An-ku Shaw graciously accepted his foolish protest without showing any aggravation or displeasure. This personal testimony of Oan, Hu-lai today clearly indicates what kind of a person An-ku Shaw was.
The younger son of An-ku Shaw named Khek-chhiong was a straight A student both in primary school and in high school. After his graduation from high school he went to Japan to study in Doshisha University. There he also proved himself to be an excellent student. He was getting ready to study medicine to become a medical doctor. But having contracted tuberculosis, he could not continue his studies, and had to return to Taiwan. Later on he went back again to pursue his studies, but his illness grew worse and had to return for the second time. By then his tuberculosis had reached the last stage of its development and could no longer be cured. He was troubled by high fever every day. His father, An-ku, suffered with him, looking after him day and night, feeding him, bathing him, placing ice on his forehead, and consoling him. The services he rendered to his dying son, who was only 27, were nothing less than being complete.
An-ku Shaw was famous for his Chinese calligraphy. Using a small size pointed brash with black ink he could beautifully write Chinese poems or famous words from the Bible in Chinese and give it to someone as a gift to be hanged on a wall. Using a large size pointed brash with black ink he could also beautifully write large size Chinese characters to be used as a church sign or as words of invitation to bring people in for evangelistic meetings. It is difficult to describe how beautiful his calligraphy was. It was so beautiful that people everywhere constantly desired to obtain his calligraphy. Today as we approach the gate of Taiwan Theological College in Ling-tou, Taipei, we can see five large-size Chinese characters which say: “Tai Oan Sin Hak I＂ (Taiwan Theological College). These characters were also written by An-ku Shaw, which continue to exhibit the beauty of his calligraphy.
An-ku Shaw´s small grand children soon became capable young men and women. He had a great desire to see each of them becoming a successful person with much faith, virtue, and competence to serve God and mankind. His older son, Lok-sian´s oldest daughter, En-chin, came to USA to study, and each time she wrote a letter home to report what she did and accomplished, he immediately went around to tell all the family members concerning what En-chin said in her letter. As he did this among us, all of us could not help sensing the joy and satisfaction that he had for his grand daughter´s success in USA.
Today, An-ku Shaw has many descendants doing various types of outstanding works to benefit people in Taiwan, in USA, and elsewhere. One had been a minister serving people in Taiwan, Canada, and USA, and teaching theology in Taiwan. One had been a medical professor at National Taiwan University. One has been an able social worker. One has been a competent electrical engineer. One has been a professional violinist. Several of them are competent medical doctors. One has been an influential clinical psychologist. One has been a rocket specialist. One has been a top chemical engineer. Some are talented musicians. Some are successful businessmen and businesswomen. One is a successful chemist. One is a well-trained and dedicated nurse. One is a popular female Lt. Colonel in the US Army working in the Pentagon. An-Ku Shaw, who loved and nurtured his grandchildren, and who desired so much for their success, must be having an unspeakable joy in heaven for what his descendants have been doing to benefit the Church of Jesus Christ and human beings everywhere.
The writer is the grandson of An-ku Shaw, Rev. Dr. David S. Chen (Tan, Sek-chong)