Hebrews 11 is a wonderful roll call of Old Testament men and women who trusted God. The story of the Church has been one of passing down the baton of faith in the Lord Jesus from Pentecost to the present, generation by generation. Sometimes families have the joy of successive generations following the Lord. Here we trace one family whose journey of faith began in China in the 1890s.
One day in the 1890s, a Chinese lady watched anxiously as her grandson became ill. This was the eldest son of her eldest son, and in the culture of that time such a child had very special value in the family. The grandmother was a respected matriarch in both her family and village, so when she saw her precious grandson growing weaker, it was she who decided to take him to the CIM hospital. She had heard that the doctors there could do wonderful things, though nobody in her village had ever been there.
As the doctors cared for the child, they also spoke to the grandmother of the living God to whom they looked for healing. ‘We are here in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,’ they said to her, ‘and so we pray to him for healing for your grandson, as well as using medicine.’ The grandmother had never heard of this God before, but she thought, ‘If he can heal my grandson, when nobody else has been able to save him, then I will believe in him.’ The little boy was cured, and his grandmother kept her word. She went back to her family and told them that because he had healed her grandson, she was going to follow this God.
She probably didn’t understand very much, and some resisted this strange new religion. However, little by little, her standing in the village led people to become first curious and then convinced. Some villagers started going to the church near the hospital. In addition, three generations of the women of the family would go to the school set up by the CIM. They embraced faith for themselves.
In time, one of the grandmother’s sons became a pastor. In turn, his son grew up, and soon after World War II, worked for an airline and was posted in Hong Kong. Later, others from the area where he had grown up also moved to Hong Kong, and since they had a different dialect from the Cantonese used there, they established a network of churches in their own mother tongue. Two generations later, Anna was born in Hong Kong.
When she was 20, Anna met Joe, then 24, when the company for which he worked sent him to Hong Kong for training. Joe himself was born and raised in Singapore, but his grandfather had been a well-known doctor in the same area of China as that from which Anna’s ancestors had come. That grandfather, too, had come to Christian faith through the witness of CIM missionaries. In due course, he sent his eldest son, Joe’s father, to Hong Kong to study medicine. Later Joe’s father moved to Singapore, where he met and married Joe’s mother.
After that meeting in Hong Kong, Joe and Anna kept in touch with each other. It was to be another seven years before Joe and Anna married, during which time Anna’s family had emigrated to the United States, and Joe had gone to New Zealand for further study. It was there that he gave his life to God.
Soon after their marriage, Joe and Anna settled in Singapore. They felt that their calling was to engage in business, and through that to provide jobs, to serve the community, and to share the gospel. This they did in Singapore till 2011, when their attention was captured by the work of a Non-Governmental Organisation caring for orphans in Cambodia. The Foursquare Church Children of Promise runs over 100 homes for some 3,000 children. Bringing their business skills, Joe and Anna have been able to contribute significantly. Joe says, ‘We’re helping them with a rice production facility in Banteay Meanchey to produce rice for the needs of these children. Anna has also been able to set up sewing projects in Siem Reap to teach Cambodian women how to sew clothes and handicrafts. These products are sold in other countries, providing employment, serving the community, and giving many opportunities to share the gospel.’
Years later, looking at a photo of Joe’s uncles brought back from a visit to family members, Anna realised she could recognise all of them. They were her relatives, too. Several generations back, some of Joe’s relatives had married some of Anna’s relatives. Their stories were intertwined. Now the seeds of the gospel sown when a little boy was ill, way back in the 1890s, were bearing fruit on three continents, through their extended family.
Joe and Anna are not members of OMF International, but they are part of the fruit of the gospel cascading down through the years.