City News: What is the most unforgettable experience you’ve had after many years of serving God in the church?
Peter Chu: One of my most memorable and unforgettable experience happened many years ago outside the former Hollywood Theater where City Harvest Church used to hold their church services. After preaching in the service that day, many members were queuing up, waiting to be prayed for. A very skinny, ill-looking man ran to me, wanting to speak to me in private. He told me, “Pastor, I am seriously ill. I’m in the last stage of AIDS, and may die in a couple of days.”
In spite of the fact that Aids is a contagious disease, I distinctly heard the Holy Spirit suddenly say to me, “Hug him.” It felt odd for me to hug a total stranger and I paused for a few seconds. Nevertheless, I submitted to the Holy Spirit, and held him tightly in my arms for about five minutes as he began to sob on my shoulders. He then told me, “I have been to many churches that refused to accept me; when people hear that I have AIDS, they immediately shun me. But you hugged me. I am willing to believe in Jesus.”
This incident deeply influenced me and my ministry; it was truly unforgettable. It helped me understand that Jesus came to save all sinners. Knowing this gives me strength to do everything that I do in the ministry, because I know God wants to pour His love out on the world. That was my most unforgettable ministry experience.
CN: In our Asian context, many fathers and sons have cracks in their relationships. Many fathers wish they could talk to their children and reconcile with them. Do you have anything to share as a father from your own experiences?
My relationship with my son, David, had been a tense one in the past. Since he was young, I made a few unreasonable demands from him. Firstly, he could not have a girlfriend. Secondly, his grades had to be among the top of his class. Thirdly, he could not make any mistakes or do anything to bring shame to the ministry or to our family. As the son of a well known preacher, David went through a lot of pressure growing up. Every time I came home, I would ask him about his school work, his friends, if he had sinned. Gradually, he came to an understanding that I did not love him, that I was simply afraid of him ruining my reputation. When he was in high school, I asked him to move to the school hostel. The truth was, we were very busy, and did not have time to supervise his studies. We were afraid that he would not fare well and would not get into a good university. Although we had his future in mind, this led him to feel that he was being abandoned by his parents. David did eventually enter a prestigious university majoring in psychology, but he felt that I did not genuinely love him. The truth was, I was never disciplined by my father when I was growing up, thus, I did not know how to love my own son as a father.
One day, my son got into a car accident and was hospitalized. He was a teen by then. Looking at him as he lay on the hospital bed, I realized that I loved my son very much. I stayed in the hospital through the night to take care of him. Although I was tired, I refused to sleep, because David could not move his body at all. One time he said, “Dad, I need to urinate.” I then held the urinating bowl for him. Being a father and a pastor for so long, I had not served anyone in this way. Once in a while, my hand would slip and the bowl would accidentally hit him and he’d cry out in pain, “Dad! Are you paying attention?” I thought to myself, this boy is unappreciative of my love for him. Suddenly it dawned upon me that this was the love of God. The love of God is given to the world, although the world sometimes does not sense His love at all. Yet God still continues to extend His love. I told my son, “Dad is sorry, I was not careful and hurt you. Is this better now?” He said, “That’s better!” And I said, “Good!”
Through this incident, I understood that this was the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father toward us, and even toward those who do not understand His love. He still accepts us and bears with us. From then on, I did not demand my son to do anything or be anything for me. I asked for his forgiveness for all that I demanded of him and I started to encourage him and help him to fulfill his dreams. David enjoys making music and writing songs, so I helped him to produce albums and do recordings. We are very close as father and son now, and our relationship is fully restored.