By Goldie Chong
Dinner at Long Lae Thai Restaurant, Perth
Celebrating Father’s Day
We celebrated Father’s Day a week early on 29 Aug. because we wanted to have it before our daughter Cristal leaves Perth to return to China. Before the Thai delicacies were served, around the restaurant dining table our three generations shared “something memorable I remember about my father”. Some sample memories from different persons:
• my dad believed in the importance of education and saw to it that all his children went for tertiary education to become professionals while his business friends kept their children to look after the family business;
• in the USA during my childhood blacks and whites did not mix but my dad treated our black servant’s son who was the same age as me equally without racial discrimination;
• my dad was always willing to listen when I wanted to talk to him;
• he helped me patiently with my math, science, etc. while always chewing something in his mouth….”
My dad Renald
I shared, “dad was a clever student. He was one of two students chosen from each province in China to be awarded a scholarship from the Indemnity Fund (after the Boxer Rebellion, China was forced to pay indemnity for the foreigners killed in Beijing but instead of taking the money, the US set up this fund to educate Chinese students.) He went to ChingHua University and excelled in studies and athletics. His record-breaking pole vault feat is recorded there. He went on to the University of Chicago to get his medical degree and specialized in ophthalmology and became a well-known eye specialist in Hongkong. *
One of Dad’s interests was to study religions. He researched and travelled to Malaysia to study astro-travel, to India to study Buddhism, to UK to see mediums and seances, to Philippines to observe the faith healers operate with bare hands, attended courses in the catholic church in Hongkong, etc. He did this not because he wanted to worship but to tickle his intellect. After I became a Christian as a teenager I often shared with him about Jesus Christ. He replied, “I know a lot about Christianity because I went to Pui Ching, a Christian school. I was even baptized.” He proudly recounted the reason for his baptism.
“In the boarding school, the Christian students went to church on Sundays. After church, they were allowed to go home, so I got myself baptized so I can go home on Sundays.” He recalled how his baptism caused his father to be so upset that he refused to have his usual wine with his dinner that night. Long afterwards my aunt told me of another unusual event that happened that night. “The Buddhist lamp which was hanging on the ceiling of the dining room crashed to the floor in the middle of the night.” Obviously even though dad did not know what he was doing, the spiritual realm took notice.
Renald and his Father
Renald at 9yrs old
Renald with his Parents & Sister Merritt in USA
Renald at ChingHua University, Beijing
Renald & Louise 1934 in Chicago
Renald with his parents & family 1950 in Hongkong
Facing the end
Fast forward to dad, 86 years old, on his deathbed. Mom asked all of us siblings to go back to Hongkong. In the hospital, I again explained to him the way of salvation through believing in Jesus Christ.
After praying the salvation prayer, I asked, “Do you want to be baptized?”
This time he did not give his previous reply, but said, “yes”. So, I baptized him as well as mom in the hospital. (in our church, we practise the priesthood of all believers so baptism need not be performed by an ordained person)
Remarkably immediately after his baptism his whole countenance changed. Not only was he changed spiritually but physically he became stronger until the doctors gave him permission to get on the plane to come to Perth, accompanied by mom and my sister Sansan. During the seven months he lived with us, he regularly requested, “let’s read the bible. Let’s pray…” Every Sunday he worshipped with us in church. I asked him, “you have studied so many religions, what made you choose Christianity?” His reply, “no other religion offered me what Jesus offered.” He was indeed clever to make a wise choice.
Leaving Hongkong for Perth 1994
*My mother recounted how my dad was well-known in Hongkong:
“Pa and I wanted to go to a lawyer to have our signatures witnessed for a document. I remembered our long time friend June Ho. We took the risk of locating her downtown office. Pa was having trouble walking after he got off the taxi. After we finished our business we hoped to get a taxi but where we were standing was a bus stop where no cars could stop. There was a narrow ledge in one of the shops so I sat Pa there and went to another place to try to get a taxi. When I got one, I told the driver to stop where Pa was sitting. He said he could not do that. I said , “please do a good deed because the old uncle is 90….” He said, “what business has he to come out at 90?” But he did oblige and got Pa into the car.
We gave the driver our address and on the way home while chatting, he said, “I’ve driven countless people there to see an eye doctor. I wonder if he is still there.” I told him Pa is the eye doctor. He stopped the car and turned around. He pulled down his lower eye lid for Pa to examine him, almost missing the turn to our street. He wanted to come up with us to be treated but I told him to come the next morning. He did.” END