Hans, who is nineteen, lives in Malaysia. He and I met on-line several years ago, and I broke one of my big rules back then of “getting involved”.
He spoke to me at the time of a concern he had of being found out by his dad. Hans had just chosen to become a Christian. He went on to say that his father had threatened to kick him out of the house if he ever found another Bible in the boy’s possession, but Hans had his mind made up; he wanted to learn more about this thing called Christianity. So we talked at length, me trying to help in my meager way.
Being raised in a land where such a choice could have dire consequences led me to befriend him later on, and when he eventually asked me to mentor him, I agreed, although I voiced some reservations. But after explaining I was not an ideal sort to lead, and that I was simply a regular guy with no deep spiritual knowledge or special insight, and that there were many, many more-qualified people for the job, we came to an agreement of sorts. He now addresses me as Dad.
Hans has every quality a son should possess. He is bright. He is most handsome. He has a great sense of humor. And although he might deny it, he is both industrious and wise beyond his years.
I, as a dad, am less. That is, I am not the most-attentive sort. I have six sons of my own who will attest to this statement, if pushed. Oh, I love them, but I don’t show it like I probably should, or could.
Hans and I communicate sporadically by Email. We have both exchanged pictures of our immediate families. His parents, sad to say, divorced a year ago. His Chinese father remains distant and aloof. His mother, who is British, herself converted to Christianity not too long ago, so she still has close ties to her son.
I got reports from Hans as he struggled with the oppressive school system in Malaysia, and his tyrannical teachers. I let him know he was lucky to not be here where the greatest danger was to fall into the wrong crowd and become a mall rat or a Goth, or learn to indulge in fast food and video games. He laughed and said they have all of that and more.
He told of how his mum had been asking quiet questions about his religion. And when he graduated, he and I celebrated with Emailed high-fives. He now plans to attend a university in Australia, and study medicine.
The latest report I heard on the news says Kuala Lumpur, the capitol city where Hans lives, suffered only minor damage from the horrendous tidal wave that hit south Asia on December 26. I Emailed him yesterday, but no response has been received so far.
I pray Hans is well.