Summers in Maine

Janice Roberts

Sam was our Elder at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, when we expressed a desire to join the fellowship back in the fall of 2000. He intervened with leaders of the “Membership Class” to let us participate even though we could not make all the required classes due to business obligations. He said, Phil Ryken approved it, even though I was fairly certain that Phil had no idea who we were. Sam simply knew that we should be received into the body of faith at Tenth, which has profoundly changed our lives.

Sam was a constant presence in our Church life but we barely knew him until the day that he and Paul Jones came to dinner about five years ago. That night changed everything. Sam was totally relaxed; laughing, telling stories, and making us feel welcome to share his life. It was a side of Sam, his “non-public” side, which enabled us to appreciate all he had to offer in genuine friendship, as well as Spirit-filled fellowship.

Sam loved life as few do, including Christians. He was always “UP” and ready to party or pray depending on the occasion and the needs of those around him. About four years ago he came to Maine for the first time with Paul and spent a week with us. We were a little nervous about entertaining him for a full week but needn’t have been. We had a wonderful time! I gave him a sweatshirt labeled “Maine” and he looked like a native. He gamely allowed us to load him onto a “sit on top” Ocean Kayak and ferry him around our ocean front playground. This exercise required a three-person team to get him down a steep cliff and over seaweed covered rocks. He trusted (Or more likely was urgently praying) that we could deliver him safely back to terra firma.

On another occasion we were invited out on a neighbor’s boat and explored islands and coves while watching for the many seals and other wild life. Sam loved it!

While in Maine Sam wrote musical compositions and worked on editing other’s work. He was a counselor and encourager. He got involved in everything, using his considerable gifts to uplift others.

We spent a lot of time walking the beach and lingering over long meals. We never tired of hearing Sam’s stories that often gave us some small insight into his amazing life. He was so much more than a brilliant prodigy; he connected with others quietly but forcefully to understand their thoughts and views. Sometimes you would think he wasn’t paying close attention but he heard every word and listened closely to the heart as well as the voice.

Last year during his trip to Maine that coincided with his 64th birthday, he presented us with a manuscript that he had prepared at our house the year before, which we will cherish for years to come.

This masterpiece, which is now renowned by so many, was the work he presented: Hommage à Chopin: Fantasy on This Is My Father’s World.

Sam generously shared his talent with our neighbors as well. He delighted us all one evening with his rendition of Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major, Op. 47.

We often walked part way home with Sam after Church on Sunday night. As we separated on each occasion he would say “Good night, my friends” in such a way as to simultaneously impart friendship and God’s blessing upon us. In fact whenever Sam was with us it was a though we were in the presence of holiness. He never preached at us even though he was our elder and we certainly gave him occasion. He was a Christian ambassador; being with Sam was always a reminder of what it means to have “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Sam's Chinese name means
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