Good evening, my name is Patrick Wong… and I have about 5 minutes to cover 40 years of my very blessed experience being a part of CEC.
Galatians 6:10 reads: So then, while we have opportunity, let’s do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
I’m so grateful God led my mother and I to this particular “household of faith”… this Christian family… and through the eyes of a child now grown up (at least physically), I’d like to share with you some memories that I have of each decade at CEC.
It was the 80s, escaping Vietnam, living as a refugee in Hong Kong for 2 years, landing in Chicago… that was all in the past. For my mother and I, it was a new start in a new part of the country, right when Mt. St Helen’s erupted in the Spring of 1980.
I was a clueless 7 year old, I had no sense of identity, all I knew was that my mother had saved us, and now braved a new world and like many others at CEC trying to carve out a living. She had very little time to raise me… so in many ways CEC raised me.
As a child, it wasn’t the Sunday school, it wasn’t the sermons… it was the weekly steadiness, routine, common friends to get into trouble with. There was a saying back then, “if it wasn’t Kenny’s fault, it was Tim’s fault.”
At that time, I had no real father figure, so CEC dads became my father figures, brilliant, hard working high tech, God fearing men that nailed the American family statistics of 1.9 kids, 1.5 dogs, 2.1 cats and a Volvo sedan or a Volkswagen Wesfalia Camper.
I wanted to be just like them…
I wanted to be like Paul Chen with the 4Chens license plate -> When I grew up, I was going to with a plate that said ‘4Wongs’
I wanted Philip Chou’s gorgeous Nikon F4 camera and every zoom lens they sold
I wanted to fix cars like Samuel Chan, he was cool…
I wanted a wife like Harriet Chen that cooked both Korean and Chinese cuisine that was amazing!
By the late 80s we kids started looking up to faithful youth counselors such as Grace Lin, Joan Chen, Jonathan Lui, Keen Wai and Mai Dong, David and Sharon Lee and others. What you see here are a bunch of smiling kids. But what you don’t see is a blend of kids that come from well structured families, and some kids like me who were not as fortunate. We kids didn’t care, but we noticed… almost as if God had brought us together, to allow us to relate, to grow up together, to learn about Jesus and our Heavenly Father when our biological father wasn’t there.
By the 90s this band of friends became close, experiencing high school together. We went camping together, stayed up late playing card games together, figuring out who was crushing on whom together. But the constant influence of who Jesus is by CEC leaders remained… which led to some of us accepting Jesus as their personal savior before the uncertainties of college came.
The first half of the 90s were college years, throughout college I held onto my faith and attended a Chinese Christian Fellowship organization at Oregon State. Somehow I finished engineering school. There’s a particular electrical engineering professor pictured here that somehow gave me a passing grade. I thank God for Professor Lu and Jenny’s influence in my life during my time in Corvallis.
Sidebar: right at the very last term of college, I found my Proverbs 31. So a quick note to you young people… trust God’s timing on that special someone someday. He knows you better than you know yourself.
Now back in Portland somehow I got a job at Intel. How did a fairly clueless refugee kid raised by an incredible single mother get this far I wondered? Now, Holy Spirit is prompting me, asking me “how will you give back the abundance given to you Patrick?” In response, whatever small ways I could help out, I tried with the English worship team and youth ministry.
Fast forward into the 2000s… one verse comes to mind:
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. Ecc 7:14
The good times… there were marriages to celebrate, babies that were born, mission trips with our high school kids to be taken. I want to thank Pastor Peter Lim and Pastor Bob Aldstadt for presiding over our wedding. I want to thank Mike and Janet Paolicelli for coming to CEC during a time of uncertainty.
And then the bad times…
When our beloved CEC aunties and uncles who went home to Jesus sooner than we expected.
When our CEC family had friction in moving to this very building.
When our CEC family had friction regarding our by-laws.
And yet time after time, story after story God turns human failures into blessings. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Today I see CEC thriving thanks to the perseverance of many CEC members here.
I’ll go much faster now. By the 2010s my young family made a personal decision to experience what other churches in our community have to offer.
I want to thank John and Margy Slivkoff for being there when my young family was making big decisions on our future. Prayerfully advising and praying with me. I still remember those Wednesday night prayer meetings when it was just the 3 of us.
Here is my family today. No 4Wongs license plate and Korean food is strictly dine out.
I’m blessed to still be called to youth ministry and lucky enough to witness both of my daughters get baptized in the past 2 years. All that I have is possible through the love of God, the parent and the community of CEC that raised me.
Back to Galatians 6:10, Paul describes all of us who are in Christ as belonging to the "household of faith." In Christ, we are siblings, with God as our Father. Doing good to others in our household is an investment that will pay off for them and for us, both now and for eternity.
And so Thank you CEC, for Training up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6