Speech by Stephen A. Metcalf for

 the 60th anniversary Celebration of Weihsien Camp Liberation.



         The honourable Party Secretary, Mr Zhang Quanlin,

         ― Mayor, Zhang Xingqi

         ladies & gentlemen.


         My name is Stephen Metcalf.   I was born in Kunming, Yunnan Province nearly 78 years ago. My father was translating the Chinese Bible into the ethnic Lisu language about the story of Stephen when I was born and my Chinese name was Si-Ti-Fan.


Weihsien was my prison. Weihsien was also my school of adversity leading to liberation.


         Weihsien Camp had many great teachers. None of them meant more to me than Eric Liddell, who was a famous Olympic athlete. He gave up all ― to come to China to teach the youth of China.


         Eric gave me two things:


         1. ― His worn out running shoes.   My own shoes had worn out,  and it was winter. Three weeks later he died of a massive brain tumour.


         2. ― The best thing he gave me was his "Baton of forgiveness."   He taught me to love my enemies ― the Japanese ― and to pray for them.


         In these days when China is preparing for the Olympic Games, there are angry protests against the Japanese.   We all need to learn that the opposite to love is being self-centred and indifferent.


         In 1948, the American General in Japan appealed for missionaries to go to Japan.   He said, Japan was a new democracy and the people didn't understand government by the people for the people. This appeal came like the voice of heaven to me. I gave up my job and took my savings and entered college to prepare to go to Japan as a teacher   like Eric.


         In 1952,  I went to Japan by ship. The ship was carrying 300 young British soldiers. On Sunday,  their officer asked me to speak to the soldiers.   I told them the story of Eric Liddell and how he had taught me to love my enemies. I told them: “You are going to Korea with guns and may die there fighting with the UN for peace. ― I am going to Japan with Eric's message of true Peace.”


         I have spent nearly forty years in Japan and am now retired. Until 1989,  nobody in Japan spoke about the war.   It was taboo.   When the Showa Emperor died,  people began to ask me about the war.


         Because people were ignorant about the war, they were indifferent about it. They all believed they were the victims of the war,   not the aggressors.


         This was because of the Atomic Bomb.


         In 1963,  the town I was living in had a big International Exhibition for Peace.  I was invited to give a speech on World Peace. I had to talk this matter over with an important teacher in the college where I taught English. So I went to his house. When I rang his door bell, I heard angry shouting going on at the back of the house so I rang the bell again, but still the shouting continued so again I rang louder and longer. This time his wife came running. “Oh,  it is you,  teacher”, she said.  Quickly she showed me into their living room saying she would call her husband.  For the next hour we talked about world peace.


         All the time I kept thinking about this important teacher ― zealous about world peace but he doesn't have harmony or peace in his own heart or home.


         In the end,  I found it very hard to point this out to him. He listened very quietly and said he would think about what I told him. He told his Japanese students about Eric Liddell the great Olympic athlete who knew true peace and did something about it.


         In London ten years ago,  I was approached by a Japanese English teacher at the Japanese Embassy at a meeting for reconciliation.  He asked me to tell him about the war.   I said this was a very big subject ― why did he ask?


         He told me that he had to take a lot of graduating students on a trip to Beijing. There they had an open forum in which the Japanese and Chinese students could ask and exchange answers.


         A Chinese student asked a question about the war.   The Japanese students said they didn't know. 


         Then another student asked a question about the war.  This time the students were ashamed and asked their teacher to answer. The teacher who was talking to me said he was so ashamed that he couldn't answer.


         Then the Chinese students asked them about the war in Korea. The Japanese gave very good answers.


         So they asked them about the war in Vietnam again they gave clear answers.


         So they asked them about the war in Europe,  and the Japanese students gave clear answers.


         Then the Chinese students got angry and said:  “You know all about the wars in other countries,  but don't know anything about the war you fought in China.”


         Some of the Japanese answered saying they didn't even know they fought a war in China. The Japanese have made a very great mistake by trying to sweep the war under the carpet.   Indifference can lead to great problems.


         I have written a book this year in Japanese and am presenting a copy to this museum. Unfortunately,  this is a problem which just won't go away. If any of you are interested please talk to me later. Eric has shown the best way for athletes ― the world over ― how to live.


         Thank you for this opportunity to speak. #

[click here to see the photos and movie of Stephen Metcalf's speech]

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