Prodigal son

Rev. Wilson Kaan

Vietnam in the 60’s was filled with human misery, wars, deaths, shortages of food, restlessness and a dozen or so social ills that accompanied every toss and turn of the elected or take over governments.

While singing to the tune of Country Joe, “And it’s one, two, three, What are we fighting for? Don’t ask me, I don’t give a dxxx, Next stop is Vietnam”, young men from America flooded the streets of Saigon; but for this country boy, the tune of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” or “ Leaving on a Jet Plane” would do me just fine!

Well, that was one side of the war. On the other side, war years were not all bad; thriving black markets, readily available vices, exposure to new music and people from far off places were just part of my everyday daily living.

Mom and Dad were send to Vietnam by their church in Hong Kong. While we were exposed to all the trimming of wars, the purge went beyond our reach. Resentfulness, hopelessness and envy took over this young heart.

While preparing for the Father’s Day message, I thought of the familiar story: “The youngest did not wish to live at home ; he ... Father,” said he, “ give me my share of the money that will fall to me.” His father gave him his portion, and he went away into a far off country.” A one way ticket from Saigon to America would probably be more than my a year of my Mom and Dad’s allowance. One semester of tuition + room and board at Toccoa Falls Academy would be beyond my comprehension.

Yes, there were a few silver quarters that were given to me and I foolishly deposited them in the laundry machine and my developed-new-taste for RC Cola. Other than that, I did not make new friends or squander away my new wealth. The truth was, there was just nothing to be squandered away.

During the first summer in America, I found myself walking the pavement of NYC. A local pastor allowed me to bunk in one of the Sunday school rooms and in exchange, I would be emptying all the trash of the building. No, not just taking the trash out, but emptying the entire high rise and each of the floor’s collection.

I thought of home that was no more and there was no turning back. I was now a stateless person, a man without a home and without a country. “Coming home, coming home, never more to roam . . .” an old song was sung in the church and flooded my eyes with tears.

Not many will see that we too are the prodigal son, far from home and far off from our father’s love, coming home, coming home, never more to roam . .