Following the ‘Manufacturer’s Manual’
By William & Esther Ho with Goldie Chong.
Samuel entered the University of Washington, Seattle at age 10. He completed his mathematics degree at 13 and earned a Ph.D. in computer science at the age of 22. Adina was already taking university classes at age nine and entered university at 14. She earned two bachelor’s degrees by the age of 19 in chemistry and music. She then obtained graduate degrees in genetics and psychology. Susanna also entered university at 14 and earned two bachelor’s degrees by the age of 18 in chemistry and biochemistry. By age 26, she had earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Harvard Medical School. Sean enrolled at 13, and by the age of 20, had earned both a B.S. and M.S. in mathematics. He has a Ph.D. in computer science.
When William and Esther Ho realised that God had given them ‘unusual’ children they knew it would be an awesome responsibility to raise them. There were many distressing stories of child prodigies who grew into unhappy, eccentric and maladjusted adults. Moreover, how would they pass on their precious faith to smart, intelligent, thinking kids who would likely not accept things they could not explain. The Ho’s knew they would need God’s wisdom and help.
They made two vital decisions: to base their parenting methods on the ‘Manufacturer’s Manual’ and to devote their time to the children’s upbringing. William took a day off each week to spend with the children but he attributed credit to Esther, of whom he said, “God has given me a loving and saintly wife who has sacrificed her career in biochemistry to care for our children.” When Esther discovered Susanna was not fitting in at school, she made a careful study of what was available for high IQ children in the schools around her neighbourhood. Finding nothing suitable, she kept her at home and taught her herself for several years. Eventually Susanna was able to enjoy university at age 14.
Passing on the faith
The Ho’s are now grandparents. What makes them most happy about their children is not their incredible scholastic accomplishments, but that they love the Lord, are actively sharing their faith and are intentionally passing on their faith to their children. William shared, “What touched me at our recent family reunion was seeing each of our four children with their families going to their own rooms to have their family devotions with their children, and the grandkids doing personal devotion in the morning.”
Samuel could read the Bible at age two. Susanna came to know Christ at age three. Adina grew up in an environment saturated with Scripture. She recalled, “The Bible was read to us before we were out of the womb!” She received the Lord at age four, and from then onwards was encouraged to explore the objective reasons for accepting the Bible as scientifically true. Their adherence to God’s injunction laid a firm foundation: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9)
“We started our kids from birth to participate in family devotions,” William shared. “Every evening before bedtime, we read the Bible and prayed. They understood that their parents also came under the laws of God. From the time they could say yes or no, they were led in a prayer of acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour. When they could read on their own, we impressed on them to read the Bible first thing in the morning. When they faced decisions, we would help them to analyse the situation, pray for God’s guidance and then leave the ultimate decision to them. They knew they were responsible to God and God was responsible for them.”
Children are usually told to obey their parents, but the Ho’s realise that parents are not infallible. Instead they teach their children to obey God who is infallible. “Parents make mistakes. Also, they can’t be there to watch the kids all the time. If children obey God, they will never go wrong.”
All the early training, prayer and devotions have enabled the Ho children to handle the onslaught of anti-Christian philosophies such as evolution indoctrination, atheism, humanism, and others in the American academic environment. They emerged at the highest tertiary level with their Christian foundational beliefs strong and unwavering. The Ho’s have proved that teaching children from young lays a firm foundation for their future. They discerned their readiness at a young age to understand spiritual truths and intentionally reinforced it at every stage of their lives.
Made In His Image
“What you teach children is extremely important,” Esther emphasised. “You see, if you teach a smart kid that he evolved from monkeys, he will perhaps act like one. But if he’s convinced that he’s created in God’s image, he will be more inclined to know that there is right and wrong. He will understand that there are spiritual laws designed by the Creator. We teach them that when we follow these laws – the ‘Manufacturer’s instructions’ – our lives will go well.”
“When we know that we are created in God’s image and not evolved from nothingness, we know that we are all created with worth and dignity. Everyone is unique. Samuel has scientific gifting, Adina is good in music and song, Susanna loves medicine, Sean has a mathematical mind. They do not need to compete with one another; there is no sibling rivalry. On the other hand, they appreciate one another’s gifts. They understand the Chinese saying: ‘Heaven made me for a purpose’.”
According to Esther, all children are gifted by their Creator. Parents are responsible for nurturing and developing those gifts. “God gives gifts to everyone,” Esther said. “If we are given more, we should not be proud; if we are given less, we need not feel inferior. The Bible tells us, ‘to whom more is given, more is required’. Knowing God’s ‘grading system’ sets us free from the competitive system of this world. God is far smarter than we are; therefore, we should thank God for how He made us and not complain about our sex, appearance, temperament, talents and so on. We should give thanks for who we are.”
By understanding that each child is gifted, parents of ‘ordinary’, ‘mediocre’ or ‘handicapped’ children need not lament or compare them with others, but try to discern their gifts and help them develop to bring out their full potential.
A Valuable Legacy
Bringing up four exceptional, ‘genius’ offspring definitely required wisdom and help from their Creator. This family has shown that following the ‘Manufacturer’s Manual’ put them on the track to success, achievement and fulfillment.
This article first appeared in Asian Beacon vol 46 no 3, 2014. page 24 Reprinted with permission