I came from a large traditional Chinese family where our father was foremost authority and head of the family. In our family, all of us children grew up pretty independently of each other and we didn?t really communicate much with each other and especially with our parents. A peek into our family life:
a) Individual TV Dinners
b) Speak only when spoken to
c) Family togetherness only during Chinese New Year
d) Cold family atmosphere most of the time
e) The word ?I love you? was never spoken to each other
f) To scold is a sign of love and concern
As I grew up, I learnt that things don?t have to be like that in our family. We can have Love and Love abundantly in our family.
From then on, my only wish was for my family especially my parents to know Love which can transform our lives.
I prayed that my family, especially my father will one day be able to experience and be filled with this Love.
Both my wife and I began to take the first step of courage in 1994 to reach out to my father via Sunday lunches.
It was a little awkward at first but then he warmed up to the attention and love displayed openly from his son and daughter in law, week after week.
We all became a lot warmer as a family from then on ? all it took was for one of us to take the first step to put an arm around his shoulder and let him know we love him.
I discovered that it was ok to display my affections for my father. We could share jokes together and chat about our lives, work, plans ,etc. Those were such wonderful times!
But this was only shared amongst my father and mother and my wife and I but not with the rest of our rather large family of 7 other brothers and sisters. I knew deep down inside he would want the same warmth we had with all my other siblings.
My father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung cancer ...
Tragedy struck in mid-1999. My father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung cancer and was in a very critical condition. All the past 60 years of smoking had caught up with him. My family was totally devastated. He was given no more than 3 months to live ? the cancer was in such an advance stage that either the toxic cancer treatment or the cancer would kill him.
We prayed for God to touch his life with His love and fulfill his every wish before he leaves this world & most of all that he would not suffer.
During these trying times, I actually spoke with him about God?s Love for him and he rejected time and again this free gift from God. I was very discouraged, thinking all this time my prayers for him to come to know the God of Love as his personal friend and saviour and for all his wishes to come true have been in vain.
He had always wanted to reconcile with one of our brothers whom he had hurt in the past. He truly loved him but could not and did not know how to reconcile with him.
We prayed that his deeper wish to reconcile with my brother to come about ? if need be through divine intervention.
As the time drew closer (final quarter of 1999), we were more and more open about our feelings with our father as we realized there may not be much time left.
The reconciliation between father and my brother took place and past hurts were healed! Finally, as a family, we all really bonded together closely during this time.
My father?s greatest wish was answered!
He had always been emotionally attached to his ?Motherland? China and we know deep inside he really wanted to visit his motherland in Samsui, China again before he leaves this earth & if he could still travel, visit and see what a Western country is like.
At that time he was in and out of hospital suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy he was undergoing ? a total of 17 sessions of chemo & 54 sessions of radiotherapy over an amazing 2 years to keep the cancer under control!
Even the specialist could not believe how a 74-year old frail man like my father could still take all of that!
We prayed with him that his life will be preserved and that the swelling from the blood clot in his legs of the size of his waist at the peak will ease. He acknowledged our prayer requests for God to extend his life to fulfill his every wish and that he will know that God is a God of love who answers prayer.
Our prayers were answered and the swelling came down & he was up and about again though he had to use a wheelchair and crutches on and off.
His wish came true and he visited his parents? province of Samsui in his motherland China together with my mother twice in that same year with my eldest brother!
Later on, his last wish to visit a foreign or western country came true ? my sister and her family took him and my mother to Australia for a visit!
He was a much fulfilled man and most of all, our prayer that he did not suffer from the cancer was granted by God. Although my father had minor discomforts on and off, his body responded well to the many toxic cancer treatments.
My last prayer request was for my father to accept God?s free gift of Eternal Life and Love by receiving Jesus into his heart as his personal friend and saviour.
Time and again when I shared with him, he would reject God even after he was frequently reminded of God having answered his prayers to extend his life and fulfill his every wish. My sister?s many attempts to share with him were also rejected.
It was very discouraging and I actually gave up, thinking that our prayers will go unanswered. I was saddened by the thought of being separated from our beloved father in death. We had hoped that our prayers will be answered so that we will be reunited with him as the head of our family in heaven, a beautiful place prepared by God for all who will accept his free gift of Eternal Life & Love.
We were very disappointed. We had hoped that after his experience of God?s hands upon his life he would see and feel God?s love and respond positively to Him. However, my father regarded the answered prayers as strokes of luck instead & instead gave credit to the food supplements and medicines that we bought for him.
|We were very disappointed ... To our shock one evening when he was already seriously ill, he exclaimed ...|
At this point, I just told him not to say yes or no to Jesus but to open up his mind and in his own quiet moments of need and loneliness to speak to Jesus and to ask Jesus to reveal Himself to him and fill his heart with love and peace at his time of need or pain (my father did not at any time take any powerful drugs to help with the pain inflicted by the cancer).
My sister and I would usually visit him in his room in the evenings and would ask if he would want us to pray for him.
To our shock one evening when he was already seriously ill, he exclaimed in Cantonese ? I cannot avoid the truth anymore! I will believe and accept Jesus! The whole family should also accept Jesus!?.
The next morning a pastor came to reaffirm with him in Cantonese his acceptance of Jesus as his saviour. He requested my sister for a Christian burial while having his breakfast.
We were overjoyed., We know that although he is no longer physically with us on earth, he is now in the arms of Jesus in a beautiful place called heaven and one day he will be reunited with all of us, his beloved family!
Well, we just need to continue to trust in Jesus, that He is faithful and will unfold His great plans for our lives and answer our prayers for our loved ones in His own time and way.
All praise be to God for His great faithfulness and transcending love. It doesn?t matter if you are a Christian or not. God loves you just the same & He is waiting for you to open up your heart to Him so that He can fill you with His love, peace and joy.
His love transforms lives ? the transformation of my live and those of my family members is just one of many examples of His goodness. Our prayer is for everyone to have a much deeper walk and personal relationship with God. We hope this prayer will come true for you.
If you could identify with us and feel that God is speaking to you too, please feel free to call us. We are:
By Phoon Yew Sang & Audrey C. Siow