Remembrance of My Father – Rev. Barnabas Cheung
by Henri Cheung
As you may have learnt from my father’s biography, his story began when he committed his life to the Lord and His ministries. From his humble beginning as a missionary in Vietnam and Laos, to his very last mission trip to Peru last year, he truly had embraced and loved all the peoples he met, especially the ethnic minorities. My father told me that he’d rather go and preach to those unreached in the remotest part of the world than to places where many are already there.
He shared his faith journey with my mom and his three children, Deborah, Noah and me. For as long as I can remember, my father often taught us to always be faithful to the Lord, no matter the life circumstances. In fact, in our weekly family worship at home, my father loved to sing the hymn “Be True.” That is the music you heard earlier in the video tribute. In my mind, I can still hear him saying, “Let’s sing #200 of the Hymnal (宣道詩), Be True (要忠心).” He often led the family sing hymns and told stories to us. He loves to tell a story, whether you want to listen or not.
My father’s health was a miracle, a testament of God’s healing and protection. From the beginning of his ministry in Laos, my father begin to have episodes of coughing out blood after long series of preaching. When I was 6 years old, one day we came home to find my father passed out from heavy bleeding. We didn’t know better; we just thought he was taking an afternoon nap. Later when a medical missionary from US visited Laos, he told my father that the only way to treat this was a surgery. However, the risks of such surgery include the loss of the ability to talk. My father would rather take the risk of continual bleeding than not being able to talk again. Over the years, his bleeding never ceased but so was his determination of preaching the Word of God. The thorn in his body had always been there, but that thorn did not kill his ministry.
My mom and dad always lived a simple and frugal life. They did that to alleviate the financial burden on the church. However, Dad was always generous to those in needs, and to the church and seminary that he loved. He also was generous to his family, his children and grandchildren.
My father didn’t care much for worldly recognition. In the 80s, he received an honorary doctorate degree for his lifelong mission work. He told us that he’d rather not tell others about this degree during his lifetime. He didn’t want this to overshadow the title he held more dearly as a Reverend. To him, being a pastor—a servant of God—is the greatest honor of all.
Dad loved all the brothers and sisters at Chinese Christian & Missionary Church, a church he founded and served for 36 years. At the beginning of his last hospital stay, he was upset because sending him to the hospital Friday night meant robbing him of the opportunity to go to church that Sunday. Greeting, shaking hands, and laughing with everyone at CCMC was something he looked forward to all week long.
My family sorely missed Dad in our human way when he passed on to the other side of glory on June 27. Yet God’s timing and plan are always perfect. During his last 7 weeks of life, my father could not eat or talk—two simple things that he loved. Despite this suffering, God was indeed merciful. The day before his passing, he was able to spend some quality time with all three grandsons together—Justin, Enoch and Austin. He smiled brightly and lovingly, communicating with them through hand gestures. Inside his body, his disease was eating him up. Outside, he gave a bright smile for his grandsons. He said goodbye to them as they left for church fellowship that evening. What a legacy of faith and perseverance he was passing to his grandchildren! God is merciful because I am certain that those beautiful moments were in his mind when he departed.
Today, we take great comfort knowing that my father is sharing a huge feast and a laugh with his old friends in heaven. He is finally in Jesus’ outstretched arms, resting in a home he had been preaching about and longing for.
It is our family’s wish to carry on my father’s legacy and passion for mission work with the “Rev. Barnabas Cheung Memorial Mission Fund.” We pray this memorial fund will carry on some of his lifelong mission works and beyond.
On behalf of my family, I would like to express our gratitude to all of you. You have walked, shared, prayed and supported my father’s life journey. He fought a good fight, not only in the mission field, but also during his illness. I hope that my father’s journey is a testimony of God’s provision and sovereignty. May God’s Word continue to provide peace and encouragement to you, knowing that we may have troubles in this world but Jesus has already overcome the world! Praise the Lord!