On the Wednesday before Easter (March 28), two shocking events gave me renewed reason to ponder the power and reality of Christ's victory over death. That day was perhaps my most painful day in China. After so many years of calm, safety, and peace in the haven of Shanghai, I had a double jolt of the sorrow that happens even in happy places.

That morning, I got to the beautiful office building where I work about 15 minutes earlier than needed, so I stood in the sunshine and began reading my favorite book on a spectacular spring day. What a great day to be alive and to delve into the text of my favorite sci-fi writer, Jiang Bo and his Heart of the Milky Way trilogy. 

Almost as soon as I began reading, there was a loud bang at about 8:20 that sounded like something big and heavy had crashed into a window. Then a woman screamed and ran right in front of me. Was she hurt? She seemed fine and soon stopped running to take out her cell phone and make a call. What was the problem? There was some commotion among some of the staff at the entrance to the building, so something was up.

I took a few steps and saw something horrific: A man had jumped from our very tall office building, apparently out of a window he had managed to open on the 23rd floor, a corner office that probably was an executive office. I think this might have been an executive from a hot high-tech startup that I know is on that floor.

The man was obviously dead. He had first hit the outwardly sloping glass of the lobby at the ground floor and a glancing angle, but from what I could see was probably in bad shape before ever hitting the pavement just milliseconds later. I'll spare the details. So troubling -- mostly because of the sorrow to know that a relatively young man was in such pain that he gave up completely. I wish I could have helped, or that someone could have helped him have the courage to go on. But obviously not easy. I am so sorry for him and his family and friends.

A few hours later while I was still coping with that tragedy, one of our dear friends, a family of farmers in a tiny village of Jiangxi Province whose lives are interconnected with ours, sent me an even more horrific image of their dear son, their eldest of two (the younger son is the one I know best and may have mentioned here before, the one we have tried to help with some surgical needs). He had been murdered in Guangzhou and his bloated body had been dragged out of a river or canal. Such anguish. The mother is devastated and can hardly move. The father arrived there today to work with local police. We will go visit the mother and younger son in distant Jiangxi Province on Saturday. So overwhelming, so painful. We feel helpless but will try to comfort.

Some of you have already provided help for that family with the PayPal donation button at the left. They have serious needs again (not just because of the father's recently operated brain cancer), so donations will be focused on them for a while.

The unnecessary death of a stranger caused pain enough, but the murder of a young man we spent time with last year was just heartbreaking. Both tragedies encountered on the same day. There are things I need to learn and to do in response to this double jolt. But what? Your ideas are welcome.

The story took an even more painful twist  few days later when the father told me that the police in Guangzhou told him that it was not a murder, but a suicide. The father said that his son had been unable to earn enough to survive but did not want to disappoint his parents by asking for help, and so had given up. Believing that the death was a suicide (I'm not convinced the police know that for sure) seems to have further magnified the pain of the family. Devastating. The natural tendency for loved ones to blame themselves in the wake of a suicide is in full swing, I'm afraid.

(Much of this experience was previously shared on my Facebook page. Thanks to the many people who have given me inspired counsel and support in coping with these issues. There is much that I need to learn from this.)

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