From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
First, happy Easter to you all. Easter is the most important day in our Church year when we remember and celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. The world celebrate Christmas, but we celebrate Easter above all. May this Easter be another new beginning for us all because Christ has risen, He has risen indeed.
The Coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, and with a new strain of the virus and the number of confirmed new cases still over 900 daily, we are still very much in the pandemic and still deeply affected in our daily lives. This even though vaccination has started. We have been on a rollercoaster in the past year, as we began well with the lowest infection numbers in BC and just as we thought we were getting out of this pandemic at the beginning of the fall, we saw the rise in the curve and now when other provinces have started to get things under control, our number of cases tested positive for the virus is among the highest in Canada. We shall keep being vigilant and cautious in our own reopening and back to church schedule. We know that God is still in control because Christ has conquered death and gives us hope in His resurrection.
On a family level, the COVID hit closer to home when my own daughter Sarah was tested positive for Coronavirus after she was taken ill with many of the symptoms and had to go into quarantine for 14 days. The same quarantine had to be taken by my son-in-law Vernon and grandson, Elliott. Because Lydia was in close contact with Sarah, she had to be quarantined as well, which of course means that I too was affected and spent 14 days separated from her with her inside own room! To me that was what I was forced to give up during Lent. 14 days was like 40 days. It was nevertheless a good discipline. Eventually we all got through it. Praise be to God for His mercy and healing. We now treasure each and every day we have even more, knowing that each day is a gift from God.
These days I have been thinking about life and death a lot. A few days ago, we participated online in the first anniversary of the passing of Rev. Nick Tsang in a Celebration of Life. Nick was a dear friend of ours who gave up his prosperous business, in his words, to be engaged in the even bigger enterprise of God’s heavenly business. He was an energetic tireless servant of God and a mission pioneer, faithful to the end. Not long ago we also bade farewell to two of my esteemed teachers from Regent, Dr. JI Packer, Dr. Ward Gasque (also our colleague). I am privileged to have them as my teachers over 40 years ago. Another, my own most respected Regent classmate, Rev. Dr. Philip Yeung, who served together with me in the field of theological education in Hong Kong for 18 years also succumbed to pancreatic cancer, just like Nick. Another university mate from UM we had was Dr. Cynthia Chan (陳兆儀醫生), a brilliant family physician who served her patients and the Lord faithfully, also died of cancer. Nick, Phillip and Cynthia were all my peers, and they have all have finished the race set for them. There are many others faithful senior servants of God who had finished their journey, including Rev. Dr. Hay Chun Maak and Rev. Dr. Cyrus Lam, who were all my models in ministry.
Our latest loss, early this month, is in Rev. Matthew Wong, our dear colleague who definitely deserved to be called by God “a good and faithful servant.” It has been the privilege of Lydia and I to have known Matthew and Stella for over 45 years since our days in Winnipeg Chinese Alliance Church, where we served together in the Sunday school. When Matthew retired from the ministry several years ago (after many years in the business world), he never stopped to serve the Lord and was active serving locally in establishing new churches and also in short term missions, especially in helping the young Alliance Churches in KL, Malaysia. When we were without a pastor to take charge of the Putonghua ministries at RCAC, I phoned him to get him to help us on an interim basis. He agreed immediately with the one condition, that he could still visit and serve in Malaysia every year in the fall and the Spring. The success we have in this ministry owe a lot to his leadership and support. About a year ago, after his last trip to Malaysia, he was taken ill and later diagnosed to have pancreatic cancer. We shall miss him dearly. What impresses me most is that throughout his illness, he was always so encouraging to us, and he truly believed in prayer, and was totally submissive to the will of our Lord regarding the final outcome of his illness. In the end, he taught us to see heaven as God’s Paradise as he himself marched towards this eternal home. At the burial with only the family present, Stella mentioned how the burial site was a most profitable investment Matthew made many years ago, and to me it is so symbolic of Matthew’s life which was invested in eternity.
A hymn that Pastor Matthew loved was “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and it was sung by the family at the burial. The words are so precious”:
Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
What a lovely hymn that came from the heart of our dear colleague, Matthew. Indeed, he is now home, led there by the hand of our precious Lord, even though he was tired and weak, he was led through the storm and through the night, to God’s eternal light.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
Yes, this we believe and therefore we have hope, because Christ has risen, He has risen indeed.
Your servant in Christ
Rev. Simon Lee