The Red Triangle

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’ 

‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered. 

The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.’ 

‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.’ 

But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’ 

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

Acts 9:10-20

I had just returned home from a busy schedule of meetings in Hong Kong. I had expected to meet my good friend, Mr Huang. Instead, Huang’s wife, Wang Mei, appeared. She sat down on our sofa and burst into tears. After composing herself she explained that Huang was near death. Shortly after we left for Hong Kong, Huang began to feel sick. When his condition grew worse he was admitted into a local hospital. Unfortunately, the doctors were unable to diagnose the problem. Three weeks later, now in his third hospital, Huang’s problem was confirmed: a severe case of hepatitis. His body had swollen to grotesque proportions. The young, capable doctor pulled Wang Mei aside and said, ‘It is too late, we cannot save him.’ 

Although Huang was a Christian, Wang Mei was not. She had many intellectual objections to the Christian faith. But now, in the midst of this crisis, her Marxist world-view was of little comfort. She responded eagerly when we suggested that we pray together. As we prayed we sensed God was at work. I scribbled a quick note to Huang reminding him that God had called him to bring the gospel to his people. God was not through with him yet! I tucked the note into a New Testament and handed it to Wang Mei, hopeful that she might have opportunities to read it in the hospital. 

I must admit, however, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I wondered how God could let this happen? Huang was my closest Chinese friend, a young man whom I felt had tremendous potential to impact China in a significant way for the kingdom of God. Now the doctors offered little or no hope for his survival. He was extremely bloated, yellow and near death. The doctors wouldn’t even allow us to visit him. On the other hand, it seemed that this was the perfect opportunity for God to intervene and reveal his presence and power to Huang’s family, particularly his wife. Yet the situation was so desperate, it was difficult to remain confident and hopeful. 

About two weeks later, I went to visit Huang for the first time. When I saw him it was evident that God was at work. The doctors were amazed: he had not only survived, but was recovering very quickly. They told Huang, ‘A power is at work here which we do not understand.’ Amazed at his peaceful attitude in the face of death, they attributed his remarkable recovery to ‘the strength of his spirit’. Yet Huang knew the true source of this power. He declared to us (and later to his non-Christian friends): ‘God has healed me!’ 

Over the course of his stay in the hospital, four men with similar symptoms in turn occupied a bed in the adjacent room. All four came and all four died. Huang and Wang Mei were powerfully aware of the miracle God had performed. 

Huang explained how this event had affected their lives. Daily, Wang Mei read out loud the Bible we had given her in order to comfort him. This had a significant impact on Wang Mei, as well as Huang. Huang began to weep as he described how he had been praying for Wang Mei for four years, and now, at last, she had given her heart to the Lord. One day, after a long conversation in which Huang beautifully dealt with her intellectual questions, Wang Mei went home to sleep. In a dream she had a vision of Jesus, dressed in white, taking Huang by the hand and raising him up. She sensed real peace. The next day, she asked Huang to teach her how to pray and committed her life to the Lord. 

Huang too was changed. He began to speak with new urgency about the need to spread the good news. He also began to prayerfully ask how God might use him. There was a fresh sense of God’s call upon his life to bring the gospel to his people. 

Later I had the joy of escorting Huang home after he had received a clean bill of health. On the way out of the hospital he nodded to a chart hanging on the wall. Small pegs represented the beds of patients, and on some, little red triangles indicated that the situation was ‘critical’. Huang said, ‘One of these red triangles used to mark my bed, but not any longer!’ We rejoice at the richness of God’s grace and the vastness of his power, both so beautifully revealed in the experience of this Chinese family. For Huang, the red triangle is gone, but the powerful presence of God remains. Now, a number of years later, Huang is a gifted and powerful house church evangelist. 

Lord, I rejoice in the way in which you reveal your love and power to me. Sometimes I see you in dramatic moments of healing and wonderful displays of power. Sometimes you reveal yourself to me in quiet and subtle ways, unnoticed by those around. And yet you are surely there, seeking me, chasing after me, and finding me in the midst of my need. Give me eyes to see you and your purposes for my life. Change me into the person you want me to be.