(Eulogy delivered at the wake of Rev. PETER YOUNG)
The Reverend PETER YOUNG was indeed gentle and considerate as many here would testify. But he was not just gentle but ANGRY, frustrated, impatient, grieved. There is of course nothing wrong with that. The SAVIOUR he served was at times angry and frustrated. CHRIST had and spoke angry words to those who exploited their ‘religious’ position to exploit common people. CHRIST overturned the tables of the merchants in front of the Temple. Peter’s CHRIST called Scribes and Pharisees of His day, “… whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” CHRIST told them, “So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matthew 23.27,28) PETER YOUNG was angry along these lines. He wept as his JESUS wept. His English Language was of course pristine, elegant and learned but, at times in life and service, he did call a spade, a spade. But anger, frustration, impatience and tears brought on initiative, creativity, and inventiveness. Numerous times when I had been with him, I could literally sense and feel that thoughts and ideas were formulating in his mind and heart! PETER YOUNG did not just keep ideas and inspirations in his head; he did something with them! He served in many ministries and also help put in place numerous avenues of service to GOD and human beings – New Village ministry, school, church, Grady Wilson Evangelistic Campaign at Stadium Negara, Scripture Union, Christian Federation of Malaysia, Malaysian Care, Dignity & Services, United Voice, The Micah Mandate – all of which was testimony to the fact that his anger, frustration, impatience and tears, blending with his grace, gentleness, kindness and very big compassionate heart, opened many doors and took the GOSPEL OF CHRIST to countless others outside of the church walls. PETER YOUNG asked what must be done for the weak, poor and marginalised in society and was unfazed about what it would take to get it done. He ate like a bird (that was the one thing where he was not truly Malaysian) but then he also like the bird soared high and wide, way up into the sky with his ideas and deeds leaving us lesser mortals earth-bound and rooted to the ground. That was PETER YOUNG’s vision and mission! As big and comprehensive and far as it could humanly possibly get.
PETER was certainly not sedentary or laid back. He did function from home in his later years (and many of us here could picture him in his arm chair at home). But in earlier years, he was very much a hands-on operator. As SU general secretary, when I was finishing university he invited me to consider joining SU as the Inter-School Christian Fellowship (ISCF) staff worker. But the plan was to allow me to go on to teaching for a few years to gain experience which was agreeable to me. When I was only in my second year at Anglo-Chinese School Sitiawan (and second year in my marriage with Grace) – happy beyond description with my students and fellow teachers – one fine morning I was sent for by the headmaster! Upon entering the principal’s office, sitting with his legendary straight back posture was Peter Young! He had driven all the way to Sitiawan to deliver the message that I was immediately needed by SU! Daphne Roberts, OMF missionary from Australia, the ISCF staff worker had had her visa extension turned down by the Malaysian authorities. That afternoon, Peter even showed up at the Sitiawan Club tennis courts just to catch Moses Tay, Malaysia’s best tennis player and senior assistant at ACS Sitiawan, to convey the news that I would have to move away from Sitiawan because I had a prior commitment with SU! On that occasion, he got me into a lot of trouble with my headmaster, senior assistant, teachers and students and plunged my pleasant life into very serious turmoil! (Subsequent discussions permitted me to stay but only till the end of that school year.) Many more years later, when my Methodist bishop, Bishop Denis Dutton, requested my application to be the first CFM (Christian Federation of Malaysia) executive secretary, I appeared before the interview panel and there was Peter Young! He spoke first and said to me, “So Keat Peng, we have no other candidate!”, when in actual fact I was the last of nine candidates every one of whom I had shaken hands and spoken with when we waited to appear before the panel (and each one of them my senior and far more experienced and much better known in ecumenical circle than me!). Whereupon, the bishop stood up and shook my hands in welcome! My point here is that PETER YOUNG did not only serve his CHRIST himself but he identified and provided impetus, encouragement and avenues of CHRISTian service to a great number of us. Because of the kind of person and missionary he was, many of us were brought into CHRISTian service and learned the hard way often under his tutelage to become CHRIST’s servants too in a variety of ministries.
Regardless of what I actually thought of his methods and views at the material time, I had PETER YOUNG to thank for the path my life had taken in CHRISTian service – for better or worse. In our long walk together, we had times of much laughter but also times when we disagreed vehemently, argued heartily and fought each other fiercely, as was inevitable, since he was many many years ahead in ministry and I was of course but a L-licence driver! But like his dogs he loved so much, PETER was as faithful to us who served with him and were guided by him – in agreement or disagreement. He really cared for us and earnestly prayed for us and those he served. Because PETER YOUNG’s entire person and being was oriented to the cause and ministry of CHRIST’s GOSPEL. And he made the way for others of us to be involved. The ministries he helped found and served in opened up numerous avenues whereby those outside of the church had the opportunity to know the Grace of CHRIST. I think of our dear PETER YOUNG’s life of life-long ministry as an example of what it meant and caused to fulfil the words of our Lord JESUS: “And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10.16) PETER’s life was also in accord with what the Apostle Paul said and lived: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 1:21-26) PETER’s life of ministry became the social conscience for many of us and many churches.
I myself don’t quite know yet what life will now be like without PETER YOUNG. Although we were seldom physically together these past several years, he was frequently messaging me from his not-so-smart phone. He took the trouble keying in each letter to make a long message. NOW you and I shan’t have him: no more questions from him; no more promptings from him; no more nudging from him. JO (his daughter), you and your family shall miss him terribly. But this one thing we know: your dearest father, PETER YOUNG, belongs where he is now – IN THE ARMS of his LORD JESUS CHRIST and the HEAVENLY FATHER in Whose House “there are many rooms…” And I can just picture him – hand-in-hand with your mom, his dearest BETTY. THEY belong together. And we must let them be reunited for all eternity.
THANK YOU, FATHER for taking BETTY & PETER into YOUR ETERNAL HOME and there to never suffer or ever be troubled again. In fact, BETTY & PETER are now in the midst of the heavenly chorus as described in Revelation 7.9-12: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues (how PETER will love that!), standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.”
Henceforth, this will be how I picture my boss, my guide, my friend PETER YOUNG. And – in my own mind and my own imagination – I am sure our LORD GOD will let him stand in his trademark batik shirt (though it must now be a white-coloured one!) in the midst of the heavenly congregation unceasingly worshipping the LORD! Amen.