Monday, 3 February 2014

Another Railway Man

My uncle, my mother's brother, was captured by the Japanese army when he arrived in Singapore.  Richard, a captain in the British army, was put to work on "the railway of death".  He believed, having died some years ago, that every sleeper cost a man his life. Death was a daily reality when working on the tracks.

Richard managed to escape from the Japanese soldiers and reached the Dutch East Indies.  There he was captured again, after the locals decided to hand him over to the Japanese army.

The treatment of British soldiers by the Japanese has been well documented.  In my early teens I read The Knights of Bushido by the late Lord Russell of Liverpool, which had some horrifying photographs and illustrations of Japanese war crimes.

My mother told me yesterday that on one occasion, during my uncle's time in captivity, letters sent to the soldiers were put in a pile for them to see and then ignited when they went to get them.  The Japanese made sure that not a single letter was read.

When the war was over my grandfather met his son at the railway station in England and hardly recognized him. What a sorry state Richard was in.  My grandfather broke down and wept.

I am currently reading The Railway Man by Eric Lomax, who died in October 2012, having been brutally tortured by the Japanese.  The book mentions forgiveness after the bitterness.  For my uncle the immense suffering was difficult to forgive and impossible to forget.

RT Kendall wrote Total Forgiveness after having received some harsh letters, comments and abuse from disaffected church members and colleagues.  He was deeply hurt by words and actions by former members of his congregation and others who pitched in.  It was a difficult situation to follow the ministry of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel in Buckingham Gate.  Poor RT suffered much criticism, and has attracted the ire of certain hard-line Calvinists.  Some took exception to his pro-charismatic stance and changes during his ministry at Westminster Chapel.  RT came under attack from various sections of the Evangelical community, particularly those in the British Evangelical Council as opposed to those in the Evangelical Alliance.  Out of this painful period of ministry RT wrote a Christian classic on forgiveness. RT has consequently helped many Christians to take forgiveness seriously, living without bitterness, resentment and grudges.

More to follow.

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