Several weeks ago, a two year-old Chinese girl was the victim of not one, but two hit and runs in Guangdong province. Security cameras caught the incident on tape, as well as the eighteen individuals who passed by the little girl, before an elderly trash collector finally came to her aid, and went door-to-door in search of her parents. Little Yueyue, as she is being called by the Chinese media, eventually passed away, but her tragedy prompted national and international soul searching regarding the roots of such negligence.
However, this Sunday, the pastor at our local TSPM church, read the familiar passage from Luke 10:25-37 entitled “The Good Samaritan.” He did not offer any explanations for why eighteen people passed by Yueyue that day, but merely called attention to Jesus’ indirect response to the question of who is our neighbor, and to the priest and the Levite, supposedly rich in spiritual wisdom and social status, who were among those who passed by. “Chances are, we’d be part of the eighteen,” he mused.
And then he lifted up a powerful piece of good news in the midst of this story that has been full of bad news, bad press, and shame for China–namely, the someone who stopped. Actually that someone was a nobody–an elderly female trash collector, someone who literally picks up after those in society who are fortunate, prestigious, and powerful. The parallels between this trash collector and the good Samaritan are uncanny.
And so the pastor suggested that God used this trash collector in the midst of evil and suffering to teach us what it means to be human, to treat love our neighbors, to value the life of others, and to know human dignity. “Are we changed by the tragedy of little Yueyue, and then, how do we live out this challenge of loving our neighbor in today’s society?” he asked.
There has been plenty of finger-pointing from the West and the Chinese alike, trying to find someone, or something (Communism? Atheism? Legalism?) to blame for Yueyue’s death. And yet, in quiet humility, the pastor at our church pointed out that we may never know, nor does this witchhunt actually accomplish much for God’s kingdom. Instead, how do we take the example God has provided us, and how do we go on living?
This humble acceptance of God’s omnipotence, and of our own complicity in moments of inhumanity and tragedy, was what struck me Sunday morning. It would be much easier for Chinese brothers and sisters to try to take control of their society, to find their way to move forward, but I am encouraged to see that they are trusting God to do that great work, and calling on God to empower them to play a small part in that plan.
Perhaps in such earnest seeking, not of our own will, or our own power, but of God’s, some justice will be done to Yueyue’s young life, and we will begin to love our neighbors as that trash collector did that day.
This is the humble prayer of my Chinese brothers and sisters, and God, I praise you for their faithful response. May your will be done. Amen.