The American sat in his pew, looking on as the choir and orchestra rehearsed for Sunday morning’s service. A young man in the orchestra, Ryce, a violinist and first in his section, did his best to mask the pain inside. No one would have known but for the back story.
Earlier that week, Ryce had a fight with his father. It wasn’t just any fight a university student would find himself in. This one involved the police. Negative agreement from his friends, ostensibly bannered as “support” encircled Ryce and his entourage when he arrived at the church earlier that afternoon.
Ryce’s father was a soloist in the choir. As if things didn’t seem complicated enough, the father, son, choir, and entire church were Chinese. So, there the American sat, a Chinese Bible on his lap, with a passage having been marked with the help of a friend in the pew beside him. Ryce played. His father sang. The director clapped her hands. And practice ended.
“Ryce! You have something in your hair. It’s big.” The two friends struggled to fend-off the blight on Ryce’s brow. After a recoil of horror whereupon realizing the size of the hair goober culprit, which had unwittingly and covertly been hampering his countenance, Ryce took the open Chinese Bible and read. Malachi 4:6, “I am sending Elijah the prophet and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the sons and the hearts of the sons to the fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter desolation.”
“Ni zhi dao ma?” (Understand?) Ryce nodded. “Ni bu ke yi. Wu bu ke yi. Yei Su ke yi. Ke yi.” (You can’t. I can’t. Jesus can. It can be done.) Both thwarted tears with smiles as strong as could be mustered. Ryce could always light up a dark room with his smile, especially when he smiles from his heart as he did that day. A pat on the back, friendly exchanged glances, and the two parted.
Ryce could have locked-up. He could have parroted the negative reinforcement of his “supportive” peers. But, Ryce loves Jesus. Our hearts’ cry is for the reconciliation promised by the last verse in the Old Testament, the verse Ryce read. He could have said, “Stay out of it! It’s not your family!” But he didn’t. Ryce was glad. The desire for hope, that Ryce most likely didn’t know he had, had been kindled. Ryce wanted reconciliation—hope came to him insomuch as he welcomed it.
What were bystanders to think? Did they think anything? Were two friends sharing a hear-touching Scripture? Were any others able to witness their mutual tears of hope? No one seemed to have been confronted—and in fact no one had been! Did a mini alter call take place after Saturday night practice? Was the entire event a coincidence that only seemed like it meant something? Or, maybe, music rehearsal ended and two Christians—one Chinese, one American—had fellowship.