Rescued From Bandits
A timely eclipse of the moon was the overruling means of deliverance that saved a Chinese lad who later became a winner of souls. Not that the eclipse itself timed for young Keh's rescue. These lunar and solar eclipses were timed from creation, and the circuits of the heavenly bodies have run on through the ages with infinite, unvarying precision. But an overruling Providence surely timed the crisis in the experience of Keh and his father, so that the eclipse spoke the message of deliverance at exactly the right hour.
Young Keh's father was a Christian in a region hostile to Christianity. One day the father and his son were seized by an armed band and taken into the mountains. The narrative is given in Mrs. Emma T. Anderson's "A'Chu and Other Stories," as told in later years by Evangelist Keh himself:
"Forty-nine strong men, armed with knives and firearms, entered the village as the sun was setting. Kej Cheng Suan stood by the door of his house when three strange-looking men passed that way. He greeted them politely, and they paused beside his door. As they were talking together, one of the men took up the boy Tsu Eng rather roughly in his arms.
"`I beg you, do not tease the lad,' said the father Keh. `These few days he has not been well, and only today has begun to get better.'
"These words had scarcely passed his lips when the whole armed band dashed into sight. Seizing both father and child, they hurried to get away.
"Mrs. Keh was inside, preparing the evening meal, when the scuffle of feet and the loud tones of strange voices drew her to the door in time to see the angry mob seize her husband and child. At the risk of her own life she dashed into their midst to rescue the child, but the men threatened her with their swords and drove her back into the house. In the tumult of rebellion there was not a soul to hear her cry, so the helpless woman gathered her remaining children with her into the house to pray.
"That evening Evangelist Keh Cheng Soan and his eight-year old son, Tsu Eng, were taken to the neighboring village, where they were locked in a dark room alone for the night. Next morning the captives were told that a great army was to be raised, and when all the towns and cities of the surrounding country had surrendered to the rebels, they would celebrate their victory by sacrificing the Christian preacher and his son on the mountain top before the flag. This threat was repeated over and over to the victims for three days in succession.
"Shut up in the dark room, with no way to escape, the captives were not alone. In telling this incident, which he still well remembers, Pastor Keh Nga Pit (Tsu Eng) said, `My father prayed day and night, beseeching God to open the way before us, to hear our prayers and deliver us from our enemies. He often spoke to me, "Son, fear not. Our heavenly Father is able to save us. Only believe, and do not doubt His promises."'
"On the evening of the third day, being the fifteenth day of the Chinese month, the moon came up beautiful and bright. The rebels were in high spirits, and all the inhabitants of the village, both grown people and children, came out into the moonlight, and gave themselves to merrymaking, with wild dancing and playing.
"In the midst of their gayeties, suddenly a strange dark shadow began to creep across the moon. `An evil omen!' hoarsely whispered the old men. They had planned a great war of rebellion that would throw the yoke of foreign (Manchu) rule from off the neck of the Chinese people, and exalt their native village to be the very capital of the empire. Now, lo, at the very beginning, the Lord of heaven and earth showed His displeasure with them by darkening the moon.
"An order was given to bring the drums at once. All the gongs to be found in the village and all the drums that could be mustered were brought and beaten violently to save the moon. But the dark shadow crept silently on. The people were terrified at the sight, and in the darkness groped their way back to their homes. They were filled with fear of a terrible punishment to be visited upon their wrong-doings.
"However, the eclipse passed over before midnight. Then the people cooked the small lunch customarily served at night on such occasions, and refreshed themselves.
"Up to this time the rebels had been very cruel to their Christian captives. `Formerly they threatened to kill us,' said Pastor Keh,' now they were changed, and begged us to eat with them the lunch they had prepared. Afterward they urgently besought my father to leave their village, and return to his home. On the seventeenth day, five days after my capture, they hired a comfortable sedan chair, and carried us home with a large escort of people.'
"In closing the recital of this incident, he said, `This is an experience I myself passed through when only eight years of age. Does not this plainly show that the true God hears and answers the prayers of His people?'"