Who Am I?  Pt 2

My full name is Norman Craig Weatherhead.  In my last article about “Who Am I?”, I related how it was by God’s hand of providence that I was even born at all.  I also told the story of how I used to be called Craig as my primary given name, but due to some interesting sleight of hand, my given name of Craig got slipped into the middle of my name on the official documents that were signed at the hospital.  So that explains my middle name.  Now how about my first name of Norman.  Well, it has a story too.

Norman was the name of my Grandfather on my Mother’s side.  He was in the British military and right after World War 1, he joined the British Customs Services and was posted to China in 1921.  He had been living there for some time when a slight, attractive woman, who was quiet of speech but strong in will, caught his eye and in 1927 they were married in China.  An interesting piece of history here and a claim to fame is that Eric Liddel, the famous long distance runner in “The Chariot’s of Fire”, was the best man for my Grandfather in their wedding in China.

This marriage of Norman Knight to Violet Baty had an immense impact upon his life.  You see, my Grandmother was a missionary from Canada who worked for the United Church of Canada’s North China Mission in Tianjin, and when she married Norman, he quickly found himself employed by the mission to be the Business Manager and Director of the mission’s hospital further inland.  There is no doubt that his experience working as a Customs Officer prepared the way for him to serve well in this mission in this capacity.

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But to say that Norman Knight was just a Business Manager would greatly understate the valuable services that he provided for the Chinese people themselves.  When the Japanese forces invaded China in 1937 and up through 1941, for most of that time Norman was the liaison between the mission members and the compound as a whole, and the Japanese garrison leaders.  As he used delaying tactics, the staff would hide some of the local Chinese guerrilla fighters.

It was truly by the grace of God that Norman and his family made it out of China as Japan tightened more of their control over the country.  Unfortunately, after Pearl Harbor, the same cannot be said for Eric Liddel, who had become such a great friend to my grandparents.  Eric, for whom our son is named after, was interned by the Japanese and suffered malnutrition and terrible physical conditions in the Japanese POW camps.  Eric died just a few months before China was liberated in 1945.

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Back to Norman Knight, who returned alone to China after the war, was again recalled to Canada just before the complete takeover of the Communists in 1949.  Following his China years as a missionary, Norman was ordained by the United Church of Canada, and asked to minister to some small rural churches in Alberta.  And even though he had no formal theological training, his mission experience and skill sets were more than enough to help him be a good minister to a number of rural Albertan churches.

Now fast-forward a number of years until you come to 1960.  My mother was now pregnant with me and they had not made any firm choices on potential names for this fourth child of theirs.  But on September 27th, exactly two months before I was born, my grandfather Norman Knight died.  This motivated my parents to then give me his name of Norman, both as a memorial to him, and an inheritance for me.

Now jump forward again about 15 years.  Up until my middle teen years, I had always been known as Craig as I mentioned earlier.  But two things happened in the next two years that caused me to change that and go by my first name, Norman.

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The first thing that happened was that my names caused great confusion for the Navy of Canada.  (I bet that surprised you.)  You see, I had been part of the Sea Cadets for three years (ages 13-15) and in the summer of my 15th year, I attended a rigorous Navy Boot Camp.  And when it was over and I was back in Calgary, two packets came to me from the Navy Headquarters.

In one packet was the certificate of completion, the group picture of my squid mates, and my awards that I had won from some of the competitions.  These were all given to Able Seaman Norman Weatherhead.  But in the other packet, there was a certificate of completion of Boot Camp, but no group picture and no awards given.  This packet was sent to Able Seaman Craig Weatherhead.  : )  So Norman was outstanding, but Craig was missing.  This is the funny story about my two names.

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On the more serious side, I was wrestling with my own self-identity, and one aspect of that was trying to decide what I wanted to do in life.  The Navy really attracted me, and I will tell you a further Navy story in the next “Who Am I?” article.  But after accepting Christ as my Savior in 1972, then sensing in 1974 that God wanted me to be a servant-worker for him, and in 1976, being able to see Bible translation being done in the mountain town of Cuzco, Peru, I knew that God was calling me to be a missionary.

And that caused me to think about my grandfather, Norman Knight.  It would seem to me, that not only did I receive my grandfather’s name as an inheritance, I believe that I also received his vocation as part of that inheritance.  This thought has gone through my mind and my mother’s mind, and even my grandmother’s mind while she was still alive, that in some divine way, there was a connection between me and my grandfather.  And we have wondered, if it is possible, that during the two months since he passed away and before I was born, perhaps he and I had some very interesting conversations together in the spirit realm.  Maybe I’ll get to find out if this is true when it is my turn to graduate to heaven.

Whatever the case, thank you Granddad for your namesake and your legacy passed on to me.