Brian Thompsonís death,

29th Oct. 1944.

 

†††††††† Dear Bishop Houghton,

†††††††† You will be hearing of the fatal accident to Brian Thompson from others, but somehow I feel I want to tell you something of the reactions here ― especially on the part of Mr. Thompson. "What thou seest, write..." And as I can't write to Mrs. Thompson (although I am taking a copy of this letter, which may be I'll be able to give her some day), the most natural thing seems to write to you; for, after all, Mr. Thompson is your friend.

 

†††††††† On Saturday, after dinner, I received a letter which was rather staggering to me, and as I went to get my pot of tea, although I noticed Mr. Thompson standing outside his room, looking rather strange. I did not pay much attention, for I was rather full of someone else's confidences just at that moment. As I passed by his room, on my way back, however, he called me into his room, gave me a letter that had come for me in one of his and then showed me a little bundle of letters which I recognised as being those used by the internees. "Oh", I said, rejoicing with him. "Letters from Weihsien!" As you know, he shares his letters freely.

 

†††††††† "Yes," he said. "But there's bad news..." I looked at him, and saw that he was very white. Then I started reading the letter that he held out to me. It was from his wife, telling of the death, through touching a live wire, of Brian. I looked at Mr. Thompson, and he just gripped my hand hard. He couldn't say anything for a few moments. But one of the first things he did say was, "How many people are receiving news like this these days." After a little while, I suggested that we pray. I don't remember much what I prayed, except that I prayed for Mrs. Thompson, and for strength for him ― I know that's what I'd want myself, in similar circumstances; and I asked that the sympathy of others should not be too much for him. Then he prayed ― and the one thing that I remember was that he accepted the Lord for his strength, and then asked that this loss should make for more fruitfulness ― for enlarging. I wish I could remember his exact words, and I wish I could express all that they implied. They truly revealed God's man ― that his immediate reaction to the loss of his firstborn son should be the desire that through that loss there should be increased fruitfulness for God in his life.

 

†††††††† It was Saturday, and the day fixed for a Community Prayer Meeting over at the Canadian Mission Hospital. I suggested that he should go to that, so we went together, and Miss Moody from the LMS school, who had come to lunch. It was a wet, dreary sort of day, and I think that having to struggle with the elements, as it were, besides having to help someone weaker than himself down the slippery steps, provided an outlet. He was very tired after it, at any rate, and nearly went to sleep in the Saturday evening prayer meeting. After that he went and told Mr. Sinton about Brian. I wanted to get him some tea, so as the kitchen fire had gone out, and Heck (he has Heck and Doug in his room for tea midday and evening, so they're like his younger brothers) being about, I asked him to come and help light it, and told him the news. When we went back with tea, Mr. and Mrs. Wood were in with Mr. Thompson, and we all sat together and talked. He was tired when we left him, and said next morning that he had slept soundly ― thank God.

 

†††††††† He came to breakfast, but stayed away from prayers, when Mr. Sinton announced the news. You can well imagine the wave of sympathy and love that went out from all gathered. There weren't many dry eyes. He told me that the love and sympathy he was receiving was wonderful, and said that he had given himself to others, but was receiving so much much more in return. Mr. and Mrs. Sinton invited him for tea mid-morning, then Colonel and Mrs. Darby of the Salvation Army, who live next door, asked him in for dinner. He was quite cheerful at tea in the lounge, although he was talking about Brian again, of course. He went with Hector and Mr. Keeble to the English service, at which his loss was announced, and I saw him walking with Dr. Outerbridge, holding his arm. Dr. Outerbridge looked such a big, brotherly sort of person for him to be with.

 

†††††††† Mr. Thompson came to supper, as usual, but didn't stay for the evening prayer meeting and sing-song ― you know how music and singing are so hard to listen to, unmoved, when you're under an emotional strain. But he was in his room, with a Mr. Braga, one of the transients here, a refugee from Hong Kong, who is going to America; Mr. Thompson was having a talk with him about spiritual things. Later, Doug, Hector and I went in to have tea with them, and when we left Mr.Thompson was thoroughly tired ― and had another good night's rest.

 

†††††††† 30th Oct. Yesterday morning Mr. Thompson came to my room, and said, "I'm finding it very hard to be normal, Phyl". He sat down and talked. It's the only outlet he has. "It's Ella", he said. "She's part of my life. It's not being able to be there to comfort her... But the Lord is sustaining me, and I know that He is sustaining the other part of my life in the same way..." Oh, that was the language of faith, wasn't it? To have faith for yourself is one thing, but to have the same faith for someone you love, and who you've been used to protecting yourself, is another.

 

†††††††† Of course, as soon as he said it, I understood how he was feeling about Mrs. Thompson; and I said to him that that must be the way God so often feels. He sees those who need Him, and yet He can't get the contact with them, and the love and desire to help and heal and comfort is so intense that it has to get through ― so God spared not His own Son..." Mr. Thompson said that he had only realised in recent years, or months, I forget which, that it was with Christ's present sufferings that Paul wanted to have fellowship. He's certainly having fellowship in Christ's sufferings now. In the afternoon he came to my room again, to show me a chart that Marie has done on "To every creature through the Church", and as he went out he turned and stood in the doorway, and said, "You're not worrying about me now, are you? It's all right ― the Lord will undertake." You know, Bishop Houghton, it seemed to me as I saw him then that he was, indeed, being crucified. He is free, certainly, fed and clothed ― but nailed in absolute helplessness where those who are dearest to him on earth are concerned. He had spent the whole morning with Mr. Sinton and Mr. Dunn, composing telegrams to those who are behind the Japanese lines in Anhwei, Honan and Kiangsi, advising them to get out. He had had a letter from Mrs. Crossett, who is anxious about her husband, and wants him to leave Anwhei. What he himself is suffering is making him all the more earnest in his desire that others should be saved. "He saved others - Himself he cannot save..."

 

†††††††† Last night, after I'd taken Elizabeth's Bible Class, I went to make myself a pot of tea. Heck was sitting around in the lounge, evidently wanting company, and he saw me going to the kitchen, and came too, and I brought the tea back to the dining room, and one or two more unattached people gathered around, and we just sat talking. After a little while Mr. Thompson came out of his room, where he's been sitting with someone who had been talking a lot about his work, I think. Mr. Thompson looked pretty wretched, and gradually he started talking ― Tent Evangelism. Bless his heart, he got warmed up to his subject, and the two Swedish ladies who were amongst the group were just thrilled at what he was telling them. It was ten o'clock before we separated to go our several ways. I asked him this morning if he's slept well, and he said he had. Only the Lord knows all that he goes through. "And they came to a place which was called Gethsemane; and He saith to His disciples, 'Sit ye here while I shall pray.' And He taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy, and saith unto them, 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death; tarry ye here and watch.' And He went forward a little..." None of them could follow Him there. They could only stay and watch. Alas, they fell asleep doing it. May the Lord keep us from doing likewise.

 

†††††††† I'm writing about it all, really more with Mrs. Thompson in mind than you, Bishop Houghton ― but as I have never met her, it is easier to address this to you. As you will see, I have made no attempt at writing well. This is no subject for professionalism. I have an awful sort of feeling that Mr. Thompson is not through yet ― but maybe that's because I have just started reading Job.

 

†††††††† Did you know that Brian was interested in Tibet? He had no special call there, or anything, but he was definitely interested. Mr. Thompson mentioned that to me, too, saying that had he lived, the Lord might have used that interest to call him there. For Brian's sake, Tibet means something it never meant before, to Mr. Thompson. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die..." "He purposeth a crop..."

 

†††††††† I'm afraid I've done nothing else this morning, but write this letter and I don't even know whether you'll want to read it or not! But I wanted to write, and it will be something for Mrs. Thompson when she can receive it.

 

†††††††† May the Lord use both you and Mrs. Houghton to His glory, and strengthen you for returning to China.

 

Sincerely yours, in His fellowship,