Mountain Top's Victory
One day an old man, rough and untidy looking, appeared in the Mission School for Boys in White Horse City, China. Mountain Top, the son of the Chinese man, was playing with several boys when some one said, “Your father wants you.”
Mr. Leung had consented for the boy to go to school, since provision had been made for his tuition and other expenses. He was glad to get rid of part of the responsibility of taking care of the boy.
Mountain Top went back and forth from his home to school each day. Today was a special feast day. It was called the “Feast of the Tombs.” The heathen celebrated this day with special feasts for their dead ancestors. They flocked out of the cities to the graves, family tombs and lucky spots where their dead ancestors were buried or potted, and offered food and wine to their honorable dead. Mountain Top hurried to the school that day early in the morning. He knew that if he stayed near the house, his father would want him to take part in worshipping the ancestors. He did not think his father would search for him at the school. He followed his father through the gate, then on toward home.
Nothing was said until they reached the house, and then his father said, “Mountain Top, you are the only living son of the great Leung family. This is a day set apart for the worship of the ancestors. It is your duty to keep up the family worship. I have a tray of food and wine all ready for you to offer to the Leung ancestral tablets. There is a chicken killed and dressed on the tray, four tiny cups of wine, and four pairs of chopsticks. They are to be offered to the spirits of your grandparents and great grandparents who have died.”
“But Father,” cried the lad, “the ancestors are dead. How can they eat the food? And what good will it do to worship them?”
“Not another word!” commanded the father. “What do you know? You are only ten, and do you try to teach me? Such impudence! I’ll show you who is the lord of this house!” With those angry words the boy was thrust to his knees before the ancestral tablets by his father, who added the final words, “Do as you are told!”
Mountain Top struggled bravely for a moment and then made another desperate effort to convince his father that the ancestral worship was in vain.
“Father,” he began again, “I have learned to trust Jesus. I have been worshipping the true God. I have asked Jesus to come into my heart and am now His follower. If I worship the ancestors, Jesus will not be pleased. I am sorry to disobey you, but I cannot worship the ancestral tablets!” He calmly rose to his feet.
“Mountain Top!” commanded his father sternly. “Don’t talk the Jesus doctrine to me! Do as you are told! Get down on your knees and worship your grandparents. What will all the Leungs say about such a grandson! No Leung has ever failed to keep up the ancestral worship. You are the only son left of the Leungs. If you do not worship the ancestral tablets and burn incense before them, who will take care of me when I am dead?” Mr. Leung was truly sad.
Mountain Top was very sorry for his poor heathen father. There was nothing that gave a Chinese greater anxiety than to know that there would be no one to look after him when he had “passed over the world.” But the boy was firm. “Father,” he said resolutely, “I cannot!”
“If you don’t worship your ancestors,” stormed the father, “I’ll get a piece of firewood and give you a whipping such as you never had in all your life. Kneel down!”
Mountain Top was once more forced to his knees. There was a moment of breathless silence. Before the boy was the tray of food and wine which his father wanted him to offer to the ancestral tablets. Beside him was his angry father threatening to beat him, if he did not worship his dead ancestors. Mountain Top looked up into his father’s face and in a voice half choking said, “Even though you beat me; I cannot worship the ancestors. I love Jesus and can only worship Him.”
Mr. Leung was angry. He raised his hand to strike the boy, but instead he threw down the wood and said, “I am ashamed to have such a son! You are not worthy of the name of your honorable ancestors. You’ve eaten the foreign doctrine until you have disgraced the family name and are not worthy to be sheltered beneath the roof that shelters their honorable spirits. If Jesus is your God, then let Him shelter you. You cannot live here until you worship the Leung ancestors!” So saying, Mr. Leung shoved the boy out into the court toward the gate. He hesitated a moment at the gate and appealed to him once more. “Will you do as you are told and worship your dead ancestors?”
“No, Father,” replied the boy, “I cannot! I would rather be whipped than deny my Saviour. I cannot worship the ancestors.”
“Then go!” and he banged the gate shut.
Mountain Top went down the street choking back the lump in his throat, but in his heart there was a song of joy because he had been true to Jesus. He went slowly and thoughtfully down White Pebble Street to Silk Street, and then on to school. When he reached the school he hurried to find his teacher, Mr. Paak.
‘’Teacher!’’ he said as he greeted him with the usual bow.
“Have you peace?” asked Mr. Paak.
“In the middle of my heart,” he nodded, pointing to his heart. “But,” he sighed, “I have very bad news to tell you.”
“What is the trouble?” asked Mr. Paak kindly.
“I have Jesus, and He gives me peace.” said the boy, “but I have no home!” Then he told Mr. Paak all that had happened.
While they were talking about what was best to do, someone knocked at the door, and to their surprise who should it be but Mr. Leung!
“Come in! Come in!” said Mr. Paak cordially, and Mr. Leung stumbled clumsily into the room. Without waiting to be seated, he cried, “Son, I am proud of you. I am proud that a Leung was willing to be whipped rather than deny our God.” Then turning to Mr. Paak, he said in a voice choking with sobs, “Now tell me of Jesus. If the foreigner’s religion will do that for a boy who is only ten, I want it.”