A brush with death
2005 Christmas I had a near brush with death from a ruptured appendix. Prior to that, as a young urban professional in Canada, I was leading a very self-centered and lonely life. Making good money, doing the type of job I always dreamed of, and lots of free time… but something was wrong, I felt empty and unfulfilled. I looked in vain for something to fill that hollowness in my heart, but all was futile. God was merciful. He led me to him.
At the time I knew little of Christianity. My upbringing and life experience led to me having two pillars of faith: In science and in myself. But at age 30, the incident with the ruptured appendix and its subsequent physical and psychological complications completely turned my life upside down. In confusion and pain, I started attending church hoping to find something trustworthy to lean on. Throughout the journey, God sent many angels to accompany me and slowly nurse me back to health. After one year of struggling to come to faith in Christ, one morning, unable to sleep from tinnitus again, I tried to pray to Christ for the first time. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find the Chinese church I wanted to try attending and ended up going to an English service at a nearby church. The sermon that morning was “Jesus Christ is our healer”. Afterwards, the speaker invited all who are willing to accept Christ as savior to come forward… I began my journey as Christ’s follower that morning.
Back in Hong Kong
After that, I decided to return to Hong Kong to be with my family. God’s grace was more abundant than I could have imagined. Within two months of landing in Hong Kong, He blessed me with meeting my future wife-to-be, Carrie. At the same time, I also started working for Fujitsu, a Japanese company who was planning to start a new division in Hong Kong, and they sent me and a few others to their Nagoya design center for 4 months of training. It was an eye opening 4 months.
Follow their working routines; the early starting hour, and long working hours was very difficult for me. Having worked in Canada all my life at that point, my laid back and lone ranger way of approaching work really clashed with the always punctual, workaholic and team oriented Japanese culture. Gradually, I learnt to recognize and appreciate the differences, especially the working together part.
After the training I still had to make infrequent trips to Japan to meet with my boss, but one image from one of those trips really stick with me. That time the roll of seats I was sitting was missing two people, my Japanese team leader and another worker. I inquired about their absence. And I found that one was severely sick physically and the other, my leader, was psychologically unable to work. To this day, no one knew of the whereabouts of my leader. He seemed to have disappeared off the face of earth. The empty chairs image really stayed with me because of my illness earlier. At the time, God sent many angels my way to nurse me back to health and to Him, and I wondered if I can be one of the angels to the Japanese people as well.
The Call to Japan
From that point on, I talked to Carrie about going to Japan to share the gospel. And to my surprise, the Lord had also placed a longing in her to share the gospel to the Japanese as well. Being an engineer in training, I like to do things step by step and take low risks routes. One possibility was to request a transfer to Japan office, but that path was permanently closed when economic downturn led to the shutdown of many offices within Fujitsu, including the HK office. But as a result, the severance pay from the layoff provided funding for me to into seminary training. And that opens my eyes into the missionary path.
The rest of the story is a long winding path about how God prepared us to come to Japan. Whether it is 3 years of seminary instead of 1, or 3 more years of pastoral work first instead of directly going to Japan, God is constantly breaking down our preconceived plans and teaching us to surrender to His leading. And we feel so blessed to be walking on this path because His love and grace is so much more than we could have imagined. We can only give praise and glory to God. Hallelujah.