Until I was nineteen years of age, I lived in Patrick County, Virginia. Moonshine liquor was a part of the business landscape. Involvement in this product had terrible consequences for several family members. I could see the horrible effects and never allowed it to touch my lips.
When I accepted a quality control managers position at a Taipei, Taiwan plant, the managers and engineers did not know I did not drink alcohol. Shortly after arriving in Taiwan, there was a gathering of managers and engineers at one of their favorite restaurants. The waiter came by with two bottles of Chinese rice wine (actually a strong liquor) and glasses for all. I pushed my glass aside and requested either a soda or orange juice. According to the reaction to my refusal of the rice wine, you would have thought that I had committed a royal sin
At this plant, there was an overall plant manager and five sub-managers including myself. All managers were Americans except one who was Chinese. Somehow it had become known throughout the room that I had turned down the alcohol drink, so the Chinese manager stood up with a rice wine drink in his hand and announced that Sam Foley would be drinking rice wine before his tour in Taiwan ended. I did not make any comment.
At the very next gathering with most of the same people, including my young quality engineers, gathered around the large round table. Five of the seven joined me in drinking orange juice instead of the rice wine. At other meetings before I left two years later, all seven of those engineers joined me in drinking orange juice.
Later, I learned that “saving face” is a strong inducement to follow traditions in the Asian culture. Most of my new engineer acquaintances thought they should drink the rice wine whether they liked it or not until I came along and disrupted the practice.
When my tour was completed, I was given two going away parties, one at the plant where alcohol was not allowed, and another at the same restaurant previously mentioned. To my great surprise, the Chinese manager that predicted I would be drinking rice wine stood up with a two-liter bottle of orange juice to toast me and congratulated me on sticking to my commitment that I would never drink alcohol. Today, I still like my orange juice. In fact, by coincidence, there is a glass of orange juice sitting here by my computer as I type this report.
-Sam Foley (Sam & Helen are newer members that we’ve come to love dearly) Consider Proverbs 20:1; Daniel 1:8; 3:16-18; Matthew 5:13-16