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.
was Saturday, and the day fixed for a Community Prayer Meeting over at the
†††††††† 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.
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
†††††††† 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.
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,
night, after I'd taken
†††††††† 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.
you know that Brian was interested in
†††††††† 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.
the Lord use both you and Mrs. Houghton to His glory, and strengthen you for
Sincerely yours, in His fellowship,