|In Remembrance of Our Father – Rev. Silas Chan
In Memory of My Father – Mrs. Susan Tan
|A Letter to Rev. Chan – Mr. Douglas Chun
Memories – Mr. Carlin Yuen
Tribute to our most respectful Rev. Stephen Chan – Ms Winnie Cheng
2010.12.25 – Mr. Carlin Yuen (Grandson of Rev. Chan)
I’ve been thinking about writing this note for a while now. It’s hard to know where to start—first impressions are so important—but I sadly do not have the time to wait: some things should not be made to wait.
For the vast majority of you who do not know, my grandfather recently moved on to a better plane of existence. By recently I mean: today marks the first month since his fateful departure—Reverend Stephen CT Chan passed away on the night before Thanksgiving Day (in the US).
The sad thing is that I barely know anything about my grandfather. I didn’t know he ran away from home when he was young, or that he is a known pastor and author in China, or even that he liked ice cream. I learned all these things at the funeral; I don’t even remember the last thing I said to him… I hadn’t visited in over two years. When the news hit me, I took it like any other piece of bad news that I couldn’t do anything about: I put a new task in my calendar—“Follow up with family”—and proceeded to have dinner with my roommate at some falafel joint by Trader Joe’s. We argued about how to fit eight people into our little living room for Thanksgiving tomorrow.
I felt horrible. I felt horrible because I felt nothing. I waited all night for some realization, for some welling up of emotions, or some sense of loss. I interrogated myself: is this all I have? But there was nothing; I just could not remember him. That night, I felt a little less human, a little emptier.
A week later, I sat in the second pew of a funeral home in Vancouver, Canada. Sad to say, in those several hours I learned more about my grandpa than I ever did over my self-aware lifetime. I learned that he touched many people’s lives; I learned that he lived with a purpose, and I learned that he made a difference. Over 500 people showed up that day from across Canada and even from China to pay respects to this man that I knew so little about; I had lived the past 20 years without any real idea of who my grandfather was.
What did I do with all the time I had with my grandparents? Oh right, I wouldn’t stop talking with my cousin about the Nintendo GameBoy Color (yeah, remember those?). Why didn’t I care to ask them about their lives? About what they’ve done? Well, I guess that’s just it: I didn’t care. Perhaps that’s what really defines maturity; the ability to step outside of myself, and appreciate things for their value in the greater picture and act accordingly. But like Eminem says, I don’t get another chance, life is no Nintendo game; now I only have myself to blame…
The hardest part of the hour for me came when everyone finally lined up to give their condolences to my grandmother and family. The slideshow with pictures of ages past came up and as person after person shuffled by—hugging my frail little granny with tears in their eyes, both young and old and all dressed in a darkness that denied the creamy white of the room—I couldn’t help but look down at the floor. And I felt it. In those moments, I felt the overwhelming sense of loss that resonated in the room: a loss with an unspoken finality.
Despite what it seems, this isn’t supposed to be a reflection on death; so please, bypass the pleasantries and don’t bother sending your condolences. Rather, I write to preface something closer to my heart: things that tie people together beyond time and space, even life and death—the effects often undetermined, and the value perhaps immeasurable—things that are in some ways timeless, and yet, so very time-sensitive. I speak of the experiences that people share together. I speak of memories.
Before I left the next day, my granny told me that she would miss my grandfather, and in Chinese, roughly translated, that he was no more. But she said it was alright, because they had a lifetime of wonderful memories, and that she would see him in heaven one day. It made me really glad to hear that.
After I got back to New York, I had to start cleaning up for my trip to Korea. Halfway through a drawer of old junk (I have tons of junk), I found a photo of my grandparents and me, celebrating my 17th birthday the spring before I headed out to Penn. And for the first time in a while, I took the day off and did zero work. I spent the day sorting through stuff I’ve collected over the years and family photos my parents shared through Dropbox. I found a memory, even if only a small one; I remembered him.
I live a life full of memories I hold dear, and memories forgotten. I suppose it’s just the way of things—creating new memories to replace the ones that have faded—we simply have to pick the ones to keep and hold onto them ever more tightly. May you also find and remember the good memories that matter, and don’t let time fool you into letting go of them… they deserve more than that; the people in them deserve more than that.
Merry Christmas, Grandpa. :o)
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2010.12.04 – Rev. Silas Chan (A Pastor in Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church)
Dear Friends and Relatives, Brothers and Sisters in Christ. First of all I’d like to thank you for coming, to bid farewell to our beloved father. Your presence is a great support and comfort to us.
Rev. Stephen Chung Tao Chan was born in Hong Kong on July 2, 1924. The name given to him at birth was Yeung Tak Chan. He grew up in a big traditional Chinese family. He hated his parents because they showed favouritism to his siblings. He began stealing money from his mother at the age of 9. On June 14, 1936, he repented and received Christ as his saviour in an evangelistic meeting led by Dr. John Song. However, soon after, he started stealing again and ran away from home. In 1945, during a revival meeting he dedicated himself to the Lord and resolved to study the Word, to keep the Word and to practice the Word for the rest of his life. He gave himself a new name, Chung Tao, to remind himself of that.
Dad’s Faithful Service
Through his determination and with God’s blessing and favour, the Lord used him for over 60 years spreading His Word in writing, Bible teaching and pastoring churches. We are amazed by God’s mighty work through His humble servant.
Dad’s greatest work was the 10 volume commentaries on the New Testament epistles. It was a 22-year labour of love and faith journey. Dad also wrote many other books and was also the editor of a couple Christian magazines. He started the Golden Lampstand Bi-monthly publication in 1981. Dad taught in a half dozen Bible colleges in between the 50’s and the 70’s. He was a pastor of churches in FuZhou, Tai Pei, XiaMen, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Richmond, B.C., Calgary, and Toronto.
Dad was very dedicated and serious about his work, especially his writing. He would count a day wasted if he could not write anything. Therefore, he spent hours in his study to study the Bible, to meditate and to write.
He was a caring father. He took good care of our mother. He planned for the family. He was a carpenter, a doctor and a trainer. Though we had limited resources, we never felt that we were any less fortunate than other children. He was a shepherd. While we were young, he taught us the Word of God, led family worships and exhorted us to walk with God.
He was a normal dad. He liked classical music, photography, Chinese calligraphy. He liked to eat ice cream, bacon, steamed buns, and green onion pancakes. He had a lot of gadgets: a tape recorder with a big reel, mini-recorders, walkmans, German-made mini camera, watches—different models. He liked to watch Hawaii Five-O, Judge Bao包青天.
Although he stayed in his study most of the time, he would make time to take us shopping, to the beach, to the park, or to dine out. Once he was given two basketball game tickets and he took one of us to the game.
In recent year, Dad’s health deteriorated, his mobility lessened and he gradually became unable to carry on a conversation. It seemed that he could no longer serve the Lord. However, the smile on his face seemed to convey that he realized that in the last stage of his life, the ministry given to him was to bring the peace of God to the people around him and to those who visited him through a smile. We are grateful to God for how He fulfilled Dad’s desire to study His Word, to keep His Word, to walk His Word and to preach His Word to the very end of his life.
On Nov 24, 2010, around 2:40PM the Lord received my Dad home, from an earthly temporary home to the heavenly eternal home, to a glorious new beginning. He was 86.
2010.12.04 – Mr. Douglas Chun (Richmond Chinese MB Church member)
Reverend Chan, the first time I heard of your name was twenty years ago at the Tien Dao Publishing House. The bookstore person introduced your book, Commentary on Romans, to me. After my emigration to Canada, my family and I were blessed to join the Richmond Chinese MB Church in which I got to know you.
Ever since the first time I joined the bi-weekly church Bible-study on Acts, I learned a lot and changed my way of Bible reading.
In several occasions, you came a long way to my house to help Elaine and me to prepare Bible study materials so that we would not misinterpret God’s word. We appreciated your labor and instructions. Your faithfulness to God has touched me and many other Christians. You are our role model not only that you teach with your words, but also with your deeds.
You showed your concerns not only for the local church, but churches worldwide. Even during the time when your body was struck by illness, you insisted to travel to the United States to teach Bible to the local Christians. Reverend Chan, do you know how much we worried about you at that time? While the long walk to board the plane was nothing to many, but we knew it was a challenge for you.
When my son Hanson was born, you and Mrs. Chan came to see us. At that time, my parents came to Canada from Hong Kong. Although you and my parents have never met, you managed to have a good time chatting with them. My parents told you the hardship they endured during and after the Japanese invasion of China, I remembered my mother could not help but shed her tears while sharing the stories. Your response was one that was full of compassion and comfort. You certainly left an excellent first impression with my parents.
I still recall when I was invited to serve at our church, I was struggling inside for the fear that I might let you down. But your encouragement had compelled me to take up the challenge. Within a year joining the church leadership team and during one of the meetings, I witnessed you experiencing heart attack and being admitted to the hospital. At that time, I was upset and worried about your health, the impact on our church, as well as the increasing ministry burden I was probably going to take up. Reverend Chan, please forgive me for having little faith. And, it was at that time that I realized how important you were to our church.
While you were hospitalized, I thought you were going to be taken by the Lord, and even the doctor believed so. Brothers and sisters at our church prayed for you earnestly, and eventually God healed you in a miraculous way. Since then, even though you said you would not get involved in our church ministry anymore, but whenever there was a critical decision to make, you were the person we all looked up to. It stayed this way until the time you openly announced that you decided to retire for good.
Reverend, your recovery not only revealed that miracles do happen, but it also showed your great determination. You told us that God has commanded you to finish the book you were writing. From Phebe, we knew that you resumed writing with your feeble hand as soon as you regained some strength. If your right hand was not strong enough, you used your left hand, until you finished the entire book. Your writings have left such a rich legacy for the future generations, and you also serve as a role model for the people of God.
A little over two years ago, you came to our church service for the very last time. I greeted you but you recognized me no more. Yet, you put the same smile upon your face over your fragile body frame. This image of you will stay in my mind forever.
Rev. Chan, in the past years you have racked your brain in church ministries. You worked so hard for the church expansion project. You always prayed for our spiritual growth. You were involved in pastoral search. You stood firm in upholding the biblical truth. You have certainly done your bit in fulfilling God’s mission. We must give thanks for such a shepherd among us. Rev. Chan, all of these have passed away. You have fought the good fight and finished the race, and you are with God now. Enjoy his presence with great joy. Your love towards us and our church will be remembered forever.
2010.12.16 – Mrs. Susan Tan (South Vancouver Pacific Grace MB Church member)
During the past few years, our father was fading away right before our eyes. At first, he was increasingly disorganized, then he became suspicious of everything. Eventually, he couldn’t even draw simple figures, like a triangle. His conversations would not make sense, and he needed to be reminded repeatedly about what he had just said. Slowly, he stopped talking and only gave us smiles or blank looks. He became very scared of strangers — anyone who he did not see every day. Five days before his passing, to our surprise, he was talking continuously for about 5 minutes. KG taped his speech but we couldn’t understand his muffled words. He looked as if his mind was clear and focused. A flash of hope went through my mind, he was getting better! But it wasn’t to be, as he slipped into a coma on Wednesday morning and passed away that same day.
Caring for our father at home with Alzheimer’s and cardiac complications was very hard on Phebe and mom, but Phebe is exceptional for her endurance. I remember 15 years ago, when dad was dying from a serious heart attack, he was transferred out of the Intensive Care Unit into a regular ward to live or to die. He needed constant suctioning as his airway was overflowing with secretions after the removal of the respirator. The nurses did not have time to do the job, so we were at his bedside both day and night, suctioning him ourselves. He was too weak to cough, and would aspirate and drown in his own phlegm. After an exhausting night, I left the room in the early morning for a break, but Phebe never left the bedside until the day shift came. Then, miraculously, our father improved and was eventually able to return home! For the past few years, Phebe and mom faithfully and lovingly cared for dad. Phebe again, coping in her own way…always smiling, always willing, and never get frustrated with any of the messes he made. Recently, when it became too difficult to manage, the Minoru Residence became available. Dad was only there for about 2 months or so. Daily visits were physically draining, but dad appeared to adjust satisfactorily at the Home, and Phebe and mom could have some sleep at night. But there, he started to have trouble swallowing. All too soon, his meals came with thickening fluids. Then the choking happened and the inevitable followed.
My dad did not die of heart disease. He was overcome by pneumonia. I thought maybe we should have been more demanding with the doctor at the residence, who took him off most of his medications, never showed his face at the hospital or residence, and sent him out of the hospital to live or die again. This time he died as it was destined. The day before his passing, I prayed for peace for dad’s last days, and courage for my mother and sister Phebe. God answered my prayer really fast, too soon and caught me by surprise. I think I also saw courage in mom and Phebe……….. His abundant grace is more than sufficient for us.
My father worked feverishly since his calling when he was in his twenties. When I was twenty, or when my children were twenty, what were we doing? Dad spent the rest of his life penning down as much revelations he received from the Bible as he could. I didn’t know what deep thoughts he had until I started seriously studying his books…….the books that we saw around the house so much, but never really treasured them. As the saying goes, no pain (loss), no gain.
I wonder what people will write about him in the history books..? Something good..? Something bad..? There will be many opinions. As for me, he is my father who dedicated his life to God in the days of his youth, and God has used him, a humble and ordinary human being, for so much.
2011.03.13 – Winnie Cheng
Among the many teachings of Rev. Stephen Chan that I had learned, I would like to share on two. First, is his encouraging Christians to participate in Christian literary work. According to Rev. Chan, there are three ways we can be a part of the ministry of Christian literary work, that is buying Christian literature, reading Christian literature, and giving away Christian literature as gifts to others. Ever since listening to Rev. Chan’s teaching on this, I have been practicing the three in support of Christian literary work. The second teaching I learned from Rev. Stephen Chan is about reading the Bible. According to Rev. Chan, there are three purposes for Christian in reading the Bible, for devotion, for memorization and for in depth studying. Hence there are different means to serve different purposes. I have been teaching others and practicing the three ways of reading the Bible for the different purposes.
I have so much to thank God for Rev. Stephen Chan. His model as a servant leader of God will continue to impact many of us who had received his teaching in the past while continuing his teaching to others.