Rev. Dr. William Sia 謝緯 牧師
Rev. and Mrs. William Sia 謝緯 牧師,牧師娘
A Doctor, a Minister and a Lover of Life
I never met Rev. Sia 謝緯 牧師. I probably never heard him preaching as I recalled. Rev. Sia was busy in Taichung Presbytery area most of time until he was elected the moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (台灣基督長老教會總會議長.) At the time of his death, I just came back from 10-month training in Hong Kong, tried to ‘regroup’ myself to campus ministry in Kaohsiung Medical College Luke Hall. I knew that there would be a General-Assembly-Honored funeral for him, and I knew that all the church leaders and civil leaders and medical professionals would be there to pay their highest and final respect. Other than knowing him through a lot of people from Lam-Tau (南投) area, where he was a household name, and through the Taiwan Church Press Weekly (台灣教會公報), I did not have any personal touch to add here.
But none of the above really mattered much. Rev. Sia had enough stories to fill up a library. He played good enough piano to keep bible study occasions alive. His medical and clerical professional standard always kept up-to-date. He had that rare reputation that some people even called him a holy man. His dedication to the gospel was larger than life. And every memory about him would quietly bring down the tears of the listeners.
Few ordained ministers hold an MD degree. Fewer still would be so people oriented that one wondered if he ever had enough time for himself. In fact, the car accident that took his life happened right after his now famous last sentences, “If I delay a minute to tend the patients, it’d be that extra minute those patients will have to suffer.” He then said good bye to his wife, also a physician, started his car, and took off with the hope that he’d be able to ease patients’ pain just minutes sooner. And the rest is history.
All seemed to agree that Sia’s work was over loaded, but he never complained. A nurse from a Christian hospital said that she never heard anybody, including nurses, complained about Rev. Sia. That should be big news in the medical fields everywhere. And by looking at his two favorite authors, Albert Schweitzer and Toyohiko Kagawa, we’d understand his private journey well. It’s no surprise that some had called him Dr. Schweitzer of Taiwan. Now look at the summary of Rev. Sia's busy activities on the top of endless meetings:
-- He helped founded and continued his voluntary work at the Christian Hospital in Ji-Lim (二林).
-- He traveled hours to Pak-Mng (北門) - a free Christian Clinic (established in 1960) - to perform surgery for the “black-feet” 烏腳病 patients, a disease caused by arsenic (砷) polluted water. The medical director there was Dr. C H Wang(王金河), Sia’s Tokyo Medical College classmate.
-- He helped open up yet another free clinic for tuberculosis patients in central Taiwan
-- He still held his primary medical office at Lam-Tau (南投.)
Some great preachers would draw your attention within minutes, and with punched lines coming down before you could start napping. Rev. Sia made his case more in deeds than in words: His life was a combination of touching sermons, and a great example of how a person can share one’s undivided love to the people who would never be able to pay back.
According to his niece Yaling (雅怜) of Chicago, Rev. Sia enjoyed family, life, food and chess games whenever he had a break. His laughs were warm and exciting and his sermons were short and powerful. Certainly Rev. Sia looked like my kind of guy. How I wish I could have spent sometime with him. Just to get to know him as a friend and as a mentor. With his 54 years on earth, he surely had made all his extra miles accounted for. While completing this article I had a chance to talk with Mrs. Sia over the phone. She sounded, perhaps, like Rev. Sia, youthful, optimistic, encouraging and full of hope. Only people with strong faith appear that way. Tomorrow will always be better and brighter.
A few years back I had a chance to visit Rev. Sia's Memorial Youth Camp Center in Po’-Li (埔里), where my long time friend Elder T L Wang (王天龍長老) served as one of the directors. I walked around the camp site with Wang. I could feel the spirit of Rev. Sia. The spirit of taking the path less traveled; going where one would be needed the most. And the image of him appeared to me, as it had always been, like a cloudy picture in a cloudy day.
Well, I never really met him. However, as it is written, “Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don't know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
We don't know everything, but then we will… How comforting!
And in His Grace, one day, we may take turn to play a game of chess with Rev. Sia 謝緯牧師 when we see him face to face...
-- The above picture was provided by Enoch Pai (bayuhian.)