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We were sad to hear from Timothy from our church Zion Praise Harvest that his grandma had gone to be with the Lord when the family requested that I give a eulogy at the funeral. Memories of our friendship urged me to write about the remarkable story of Heong Ngoh. From a lonely young widow, she tasted God’s mercies and blessings to her four generations.
Mrs. Heong Ngoh is our 84-year-old relative in Perth. Because of a stroke eight years ago that resulted in a loss of the movement of her left hand and leg, her family decided she would be best looked after in a nursing home. That’s where Tek, Cristal (our daughter), and I visited her.
Heong‘s husband died tragically in a motorbike accident in Malacca, Malaysia, leaving her to bring up their two-year-old daughter by teaching in a Chinese primary school. Being a devout Buddhist she considered becoming a nun, even ordering her white robe for the ceremony. Unfortunately (actually, fortunately) the robe was the wrong size so she never got to join. When she migrated with her daughter to Perth, she lived in the same neighbourhood as us. I tried to make friends with her and offered to read the Bible with her. She recounted how she dreaded my visits but was too polite to refuse. One stormy morning she was hoping I would not turn up. But I came with an umbrella on my bicycle! So our Bible reading sessions continued.
One day as she was babysitting her grandson Timothy, she got a fright seeing that a small wheel of a toy Lego car was missing. She thought the little boy had swallowed it. Not daring to tell anyone, she kept checking the toilet to see if it had been expelled. She could hardly sleep that night and remembered desperately calling out to Jesus for help.
She recalled, ‘‘Then it happened! This Jesus answered my prayer. In the middle of the night, I was awakened by loud noises. I heard distinctly loud bangs on the toilet seat in the bathroom: bang..bang…bang…6 times. I got up, went to the bathroom, noted nothing unusual, and went back to bed. Then again bang…bang….bang…6 times…. I got out of bed again. But somehow instead of going to the bathroom, I found myself going to the kitchen. I was standing in front of the kitchen cupboard when I looked down, and there I saw the tiny Lego car wheel. I exclaimed, ’Jesus I want to believe in you!’”
In church that week, she could hardly wait for the speaker to finish preaching. “I was so eager to rush up to the front to proclaim to the whole church that I wanted to receive Jesus as my Saviour.”
And that is how she became a follower of Jesus and a faithful member of our church, Full Gospel Assembly Perth (FGAP), in the Chinese congregation.
Isolated in a retirement home, speaking little English, Heong wondered how she would pass her days. But she believed God had work for her to do. She picked up some English, explaining, “Because I wanted to tell the staff my needs”. Smilingly, she confessed, “ But I also want to share with these loving nurses about my wonderful Jesus. Often, I would have an opportunity to listen to their stories and to pray for them.” She took out an exercise book – her prayer journal – where she recorded these prayer requests.
She also lovingly produced three other exercise books explaining, ‘’I have one book for each of my three grandchildren where I record down what I pray for them.’’ As we opened the pages we saw her penmanship in beautiful and neat Chinese characters.
Knowing that transportation was not easy, we asked, “Is it difficult for you to go out? Do you miss your family and church friends?’’ She brightened up, “Oh no, my Pastors Daniel and Judith Ho, Mary Tang, and others from the church and my family come to see me regularly. I have the privilege to hear their needs and pray for them.”
Many years ago, I remembered a biography I read called ‘’The Queen of the Dark Chamber’’ written by a missionary of the China Inland Mission about a Chinese lady called Christiana Tsai who suffered from an unusual skin ailment that prevented her from being exposed to sunlight. While being confined to a perpetually dark room with drawn curtains, she joyfully used her time to pray for all her friends, relatives, missionaries, and many others. Thus, she praised God for allowing her to be constantly in the house of prayer, interceding for people all over the world. She was nicknamed the Queen of the Dark Chamber. This book was an inspiration for many who felt they couldn’t serve God in their confined circumstances, but the one worthwhile thing they could do was to intercede.
Suddenly I felt I was in the presence of another queen in her chamber, confined, but certainly not in the dark, for she bathes in the glorious light of her Lord, cheerfully and faithfully carrying out her assignment, leaving a precious legacy to future generations.