Friday, May 1, 2009

Nehemiah 2 - some personal thoughts on ancestral lineage

Here's some background information to my sermon this weekend which you may find helpful:

To help us understand the context, the generations after the 70 years of exile in Babylon in the book of Nehemiah and Ezra, is very much like those of us whose grand or great grand parents came from, which is China. My paternal grandfather did this in the 1930’s. This is about 70 years ago. Can you imagine now asking you and me, and our children to go back to China to rebuild it? We are too settled in here as Malaysians and many of us are now with good jobs or businesses. It would take a special earth shattering conviction and reason to get us to go back there as a community. 

When I went to Hainan island with my parents and brother David to visit our ancestral village where my grandfather came from, I discovered that I belong to the 29th generation of the Kam lineage since our very first generation ancestor migrated from the Fu-Chien province to Hainan island. Not sure how I should feel, but knowing that you are the 29th generation Kam is quite something. We had the thrill of entering the names of our children into the ancestry book that reminded me of the name list in Ezra and Nehemiah. Here's a photo of the page where the names of my children are entered. By the way, only male names are found there. Now I see pictorially why male descendants are so important to the Chinese. If there is no son after you, you (if you are a male) will be the last person listed in that book for your family tree.

Of course, we met many uncles, aunties, cousins whom we never knew before :)

My dad had not clue where his father came from as grandpa never mentioned it. We only know he came as a young man, probably out of economic necessity and ended up in tiny chinese village about 10 km from Yong Peng, along a windy road to Paloh. How he got there in the 1930's without the present road system we have now, confound us. The desire for my dad to find out his ancestry root came about 10 years ago. He started making trips to Hainan Island and on making some friends there, he asked one of them to explore if there's any village with the people going by the surname Kam. Lo and behold, this friend did find one village and my dad established that it is the very village my grandfather came from. Apparently, the village was frozen in time. See here in this picture.

This reminded me too that there is an even more important ancestry book, i.e. the Book of Life, where our names are written. Thank God we have a new spiritual lineage and heritage.

I have always wondered how the Israelites can keep such accurate records of their ancestry. Now I see that it is possible!

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