By Rev. Norman Fong

April 2, 2018

I’ll never forget the sermon preached when I became an ordained Presbyterian Church Minister on Nov. 29, 1981 in the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown: “For some ministers, the Church is their whole world, but for Norman Fong, the whole world is the Church”, said the preacher. (Rev. Lloyd Wake who knew me well & was one of my mentors).

To this day, I still believe in that powerful message. I don’t think that the Love of God and it’s amazing grace should be seen as the exclusive right of the institutional church or just for those who say they believe and were baptized. I don’t think it’s that simple. Some people live their lives as Buddhist or other faiths and some don’t go to church or a temple but believe in their hearts that they must live a good life and help those who are poor or in need of help.

mei lun yuen
Mei Lun Yuen

Easter is a message of HOPE for the world! If you just see life as what you see in the world day to day and on TV, life can look pretty sad & frustrating with all the wars, fighting, poverty, prejudices… but the message from the Easter story is there is more to what we see and there is life beyond life as we see it. My favorite bible verse is Micah 6:8 which answers the question of how we are to live our lives on earth: 1) Do justice & 2) Love Compassion (or Kindness).

I learned about Compassion when someone in the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown helped my family when we received a 30 day eviction notice. Someone bought the building that my family had been renting and kicked not just my family out, but all my relatives that squeezed into that building too. The church member helped us find a new place to rent. It was a scary time for our family. Later on, as I became a part of the church, I saw our Pastor & so many community based groups join together to fight for Mei Lun Yuen which was the first “Redevelopment” affordable Housing for Chinatown which our church members continue to run. I learned about “Doing Justice” too from the Church.

presbyterian church in chinatown
Presbyterian Church in Chinatown

1953 congregation photo
Presbyterian Church in Chinatown (1953)

easter egg earth

Chinatown is a poor neighborhood with a lot of seniors living on fixed incomes and almost half the people (even families) living in tiny rooms with no private bathroom or kitchens. They are called SROs (Single Room Occupancies). We need to show them our love & support. We have so many “homeless” too in San Francisco, many of whom ended up on the streets after serving our country in the military. Many are mentally disabled. If we have “Compassion” in our hearts we must “do justice” by supporting programs & services that will help them and others who are poor. We have a great history in Chinatown of serving the poor, new immigrants, seniors & youth that truly demonstrates the EASTER MESSAGE: Give Hope to those who are facing DESPAIR. I got helped when my family was evicted and now I get to help others in need of affordable housing or even food. That is the deep message of Easter to all of us in the world.

Who do you know around you that is facing despair & in need of hope? Happy Easter!

Originally published in Sing Tao Daily on April 1, 2018

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