Religion that Cares

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Legacy of Caring for Others

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. – Proverbs 31:20

When I was in early grade school, I remember tagging along with my mom to visit an elderly aunt, the wife of my dad’s eldest brother, whom we referred to as: 大伯母(first aunt), and my mom referred to as大嫂(eldest sister-in-law). Unlike the generic “grandparents,” “aunts,” “uncles,” “cousins,” and “in-laws” in the Western world, the Chinese use these titles so that everyone knows who is related to whom and how.

I remember feeling sad each time I visited this frail and weak aunt, who was always in her bed and seemed lonely. My mom always demonstrated such concern for this aunt, and looking back, I see the important lesson my mom was teaching me: to care for the widows and to show concern for the poor and needy. At that time, these visits were just a habit. My mom never gave me a sermon about the value of caring for our relatives or showing love for the poor, but she showed me how to be a caring sister and a loving mother.

At school, she helped poor students by finding them sponsors to pay for their scholarships. She narrated how she always held the hand of her grade 1 student who had polio whenever he climbed the stairs. A pastor friend in his eulogy for mama, shared how she encouraged him when he lost in a contest. She encouraged not only by giving him a photo album but more importantly with words: ‘It is good enough that you did your best.’

Today, I am reminded of Mama’s many legacies, which were caught rather than taught.

James 1:27 teaches, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress. . .” (The NASB uses “visit” instead of “look after.”)

Ma, thank you for being a good mother to me. Thank you for showing me how to love others, especially those people who need love.

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