A mother's prayer turned a wretched son around.
Author: Bessie Lo
Pastor Eddie Lo, pastor emeritus of First Evangelical Church (FEC), passed away in March 2008. Bessie Lo, Pastor Lo's wife, a God-fearing woman who has dedicated her life to God.
Mrs. Wong was a countrywoman, a little over 5 feet tall, living in the suburb of Canton. Her husband had married her and then left for the faraway land of Canada to toil, coming back home for a few months every 5 years. This was in the early 1900s. This time when he was back, she became pregnant with a son. He was all that she would live for since she had lost an eight-year-old daughter the last time he was back. When the boy, Man, was seven years old, Mrs. Wong became gravely ill. The doctor said she would die. Relatives brought Man to see his mother for the last time. In his typical childhood innocence, he asked, “why do I need to go to the hospital, am I going to get candy?”
That night Mrs. Wong knew she was dying, so she cried out to God and said, “How can I meet you when I have not done anything for you? Must I go empty-handed? Lord, give me a chance and I will serve you!”
Sometime during the night, Mrs. Wong saw a very bright figure like the glorified Jesus. He came to her bed with hands outstretched toward her. She felt warmth all over her body. The next day, Mrs. Wong was healed. She proceeded to carry out her promise to the Lord, doing what she could, preaching what she knew, and praying for the sick. Relying on the monthly income that her husband sent her, Mrs. Wong and Man were living comfortably.
Man did not turn out to be easy to care for. He was very active and always seemed to be in trouble. He had seen his father only once when he was six years old, and only for a short period of time. Deep inside this little boy, he longed for this father. He remembered wailing loudly when he saw his father leave for that far away land. In school, Man was not a good student, the teachers did not like him and he was extremely restless.
World War Two came. Japan invaded China. Mother and son moved to Macau. When Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese, all the financial support for Mrs. Wong was cut off. Now Mrs. Wong had to find some way to support herself and the growing lad who had just become a teenager. Every morning, Mrs. Wong would pray for “bread for the day,” go out and sell things and do what she could. Somehow, every night they would have something to eat. As months grew into years, Man went all over Macau to look for any job he could find, just to be able to eat and survive. He worked in many jobs, sometimes as a doctor’s help, sometimes as a farmer’s help, and sometimes pulling a rickshaw. Most of the time, Man found that being poor with no connections, he was being taken advantage of, and being looked down at. Man, also saw much cruelty inflicted by Japanese soldiers to others.
War ended. Man went to Hong Kong and worked in a hotel as a clerk and later in a dancing hall for about a year. Then he went back to Canton. By now, Man was a tall man about 18 years old. He did not have the opportunity to go to high school. Having made some friends, he learned he could buy high school certificates to enable him to take entrance exams to college, which he promptly did.
Man became a bona fide college student. All this time, he had not been kind to his mother, looking at her as a countrywoman. Mrs. Wong would cook for her son and waited every day for him to come home and eat. Man, in the meantime, would go out with his college friends, drinking, smoking, and eating till early in the morning. In these two years in college, Man saw, experienced, and learned many bad things. Many times, when Man came home, he would see that the food his mother cooked was not to his liking. He would get mad, shout something, and storm out of the house. Oh, how Mrs. Wang cried and prayed! You see, her husband had died in Canada, now she was alone and Man was her only hope.
Man started to hook up with gang members at his time, began to sell and smoke opium, and conduct many illegal trades. On one particular day, he and his gang member friends had guns ready to hijack a certain vessel going down the river, as was the custom in those days. This was going to be their first and only attempt because they had lost a big sum of money from somebody hijacking their vessel. God remembered Mrs. Wong’s prayer. As God watched over, on this particular day, the Communists started to post soldiers to guard the boats. Their hijacking attempt failed!
Even though his father had passed away, Man still found an opportunity to go to Canada by buying a fake passport. This might be a start for a new life. Mrs. Wong went with her son to the pier where the boat would be sailing. By this time, Man was finally conscience-stricken and said to his mother, “Mom, I promise I will change my life and when I get settled, I will send for you.” Mrs. Wong looked at her son and said, “Son, I’ll be praying for you!”
Man arrived in Vancouver with $20 in his pocket. His name was now Eddie Lawson because this was his passport name. Eddie now faced a big cultural shock as he found that he was deficient in language and in skill. Nobody would hire him because he was Chinese. In looking for jobs, he had to have a chest X-ray taken. Very promptly, a letter came back saying that he had TB and had to be hospitalized.
In the quietness of the hospital, reality set in. There he was, with no money, no job, no future, no health, and no hope. TB was a deadly disease in the early 1950s. Eddie promptly remembered the only person who cared and wrote home, “Mom, I have TB!” Mrs. Wong wrote back, “Son, I am praying for you!”
In the Sanitarium was a Canadian pastor Rev. House who came to visit the patients weekly. He went to every bed, greeting each patient, and passed out a tract. Coming to Eddie’s bed, he nodded and many times passed him by because he felt this was an impossible man to convert. Eddie looked so proud, sitting with his legs and arms crossed and a pipe in his mouth. But deep inside, God was doing his work in Eddie’s life. One day he told the pastor, “When I get out, I will go to church with you.” (Son, I am praying for you!)
The first Sunday Eddie was released from the Sanitarium, he went to church with Rev. House. It was a huge Canadian church and he did not understand too many words. But he understood “sin.” He understood “you’re a sinner, Christ must redeem you!” When the altar call came, this pastor walked with him to the front. As soon as Eddie knelt down on the floor, he saw his whole life of sin flashing like a movie in front of him. He looked at it, “NO, that’s not me.” A voice came, “Yes, it is you. Yes, this is you!” Eddie went down and sobbed and sobbed for a couple of hours. When he finally got up, everybody had left the church. That night on the streets of Vancouver, he had joy as he’d never experienced before. Everything was beautiful, God was in the air, in the breeze, in the trees, and in everything that was Vancouver. Eddie had found Jesus Christ and the angels in heaven were rejoicing with him. The first thing he did was to write home to Mrs. Wong to tell her he had discovered her God and that her prayers were finally answered.
That was nearly 70 years ago. Eddie became a compassionate and humble man, and God used him to enlarge his kingdom. He was pastor emeritus of First Evangelical Church (FEC) and passed away in March 2008. He took over FEC in 1966, a year after it started, in a house with around 60 people on Sunday. He pastored it for thirty years and members increased to over 1,500 with three big churches and Evangelical Formosan Church (EFC) was also birthed. With God’s provision, FEC now has six big churches in LA with over 2,500 members as well as smaller churches in other states and overseas.
What happened to the simple countrywoman, Mrs. Wong? Eddie never received a letter back from his mother. Many months later, he received words that she had passed away. Mrs. Wong died without knowing her son had come to the Lord. Remember when she was gravely ill, she did not want to see God empty-handed? She never knew that thousands were blessed because of her prayers for her son. She was faithful in her prayers. Her prayers prevailed. Her prayers were timeless. In heaven, she will know that her prayers were heard and were answered in due time.