Old Hundred's Heart Trouble

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 4
"Have you any pills for heart trouble?" asked Ah Kung, or Old Hundred, as he was generally called.
The colporteur, or Bible man, in the Chinese street chapel looked up as the old man came in.
"Does your heart pain you?" he asked.
"No," Old Hundred answered. "It doesn't pain."
"Does it jump? Or beat irregularly?" he queried.
"No," sighed the old man, "not exactly."
The colporteur was puzzled. He was not a doctor and had no pills of any kind. Still he was eager to know more about this peculiar heart trouble and to help the man. He asked him, "How does it feel?"
"Like lead," groaned the old man. "It feels like lead— in— here," pointing to his heart. "I have no peace in here."
"Oh," smiled the colporteur, "we do have a remedy for that kind of heart trouble. But it is not medicine to swallow. It is something to read." Reaching into the box in which he kept a lot of books, tracts and scripture portions, he took out a small red paperback copy of the Gospel of John.
"Take this little Book with you," he said, "and read it every day. Then your heart will get better."
"I can read!" exclaimed the old man joyfully, and his quivering bony fingers clutched the booklet. "I will follow your directions and read it every day."
He thanked the colporteur and turned and walked down the street. Slowly he picked his way along the cobble stones that led to his home, still clutching the little Book in his hand.
That night Ah Kung sat by the flickering light of his peanut oil lamp. His big spectacles were balanced across his nose as he began to read the Book that the colporteur had given him. The next day people on the street passing by his house observed the old man intently reading down one page and then another in a little book. Every day he was seen thus reading in the red-backed Book.
A week passed. Ah Kung still had the ache in his heart. It was just as heavy as ever in spite of his faithfully reading the written remedy every day "as directed."
"Maybe this medicine isn't right for my kind of heart trouble," he thought. "Or maybe I do not read it as I should."
One morning soon after this, he decided that there must be some mistake. This remedy was not for his heart trouble. So getting his cane he plodded back to the chapel.
"I read the book," he sadly told the colporteur as he handed it back. "It is not for me. My heart sickness is no better."
The colporteur gazed at the distressed old man. Drawing a chair close to him, he said: "Old Hundred (an honorable term in China for an aged man) you are like a man who lived in Ethiopia years ago. He read the Book but did not understand. Now listen. I will explain to you how this remedy will help you and heal your heart sickness. Your heart trouble is a disease that is common to all mankind. It is sin that makes your heart hurt. If you get rid of your sins, your heart will be all right. The heavy feeling will leave, and you will be light and happy. This remedy has never failed. It has helped thousands and thousands of people for many years. It has cured heart trouble worse than yours."
"How can I get rid of my sins?" The old man questioned the colporteur further. "Can I get rid of this ache in my heart? Have I not been trying to do this for many years? How many offerings I have made! To Buddha, to Confucius, and to long rows of countless idols in the temple, time without number I have sacrificed."
The colporteur began telling the old man the story of Jesus, who came to take away the sin of the world. He first told him about the Creator. Pointing to the trees outside, he asked, "Have you seen the trees, the grass, the flowers growing all around us?"
Old Hundred nodded his head approvingly, and cupped his ears as if eager to hear more.
"The true God made these for us," the colporteur went on. "He gives us many things to enjoy. In spite of the goodness of the great God, man rebelled against Him. Then one day God sent His very best gift to the world—His own Son Jesus. He came as a little babe and was born in a manger. He was poor for our sakes so that poor people would know how much He loved us."
The colporteur continued telling the story of Jesus. At last he told how mankind hated Him. "Finally," he said, "Jesus was nailed to the cross and died so that our sins and the sins of the whole world could be forgiven."
"And did He die for me too?" asked the old man.
"Does it say so in the Book?"
"Yes," replied the colporteur and turned to John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) in his copy. "Listen to this: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that if Ah Kung (whosoever) believes in Him he shall not perish, but have everlasting life.' "
"Let me see it!" cried the old man, putting on his spectacles. "Is my name there?"
The colporteur explained the meaning of the word "whosoever." "You, me, or anybody else," he explained.
"I'm whosoever," cried Ah Kung. He had grasped the truth. "I believe it, and," he placed his hand over his heart, exclaiming, "and it feels all right in here, too. The written remedy works."