A memorial commemorating the life of a godly and courageous woman who passed away 30 years ago still brought together 500 friends during the two hour event on a working week night in Hong Kong last month.
Her name is Miss Yan-Pui (Josephine) So, who wrote the autobiography titled “Death, Be Not Proud” and founded a magazine ministry dedicated to the youth called Breakthrough Ministry (www.breakthrough.org.hk) in 1973. The ministry’s mission is to counteract the secular culture and negativities of this world through bringing to the light the positive values from the Lord into the lives of youths today.
That night, some made special trips back to Hong Kong just to participate in the event, and the auditorium was filled to maximum capacity. So’s life is characterized by her fearlessness in face of difficulties, where she tightly held on to God’s blessings and promise; with the attacks from the cancerous demons, she ignited her own spirit by challenging Christians in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and North America to return to the core of faith, carrying their own cross, igniting oneself for the sake of Christ, illuminating this dark world.
Miss So died on Easter of 1982 in her birth land Hong Kong. Dr. Rev. Philemon Choi said that he has never seen anyone who was able to survive under such high blood pressures. Undeniably, the Lord watched over his precious daughter. In the early 70s, she founded “Breakthrough” magazine and is one of the founders of Hong Kong Breakthrough ministry.
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Miss So originally could have entered to study at Hong Kong University, but chose to teach elementary students in the remote Tsuen Wan District how to enjoy music. While she had the opportunity to go to United States to study English literature and theology, she chose to write a book that reminded Chinese intellectuals to not forget the Asia that is currently in suffering and poverty.
While carrying thyroid cancer and lymphoma, Miss So, in her weak state, returned to her land of birth, asking, “What can I do for this city?” Because of her love for Hong Kong, she published “Breakthrough” and “Breakthrough Youth” magazines and wrote her reflections towards the city in “Bus, Ferries, and 747.”
The Lord Jesus gave up his heavenly glory by incarnating into this world in order to redeem mankind of their sins. Miss So’s sickness has allowed her to deeply experience God. The spirit that touched her has enabled her to leave behind a touching life testimony that is filled by every trace of her footprints and every words and sentences.
Despite her illness, Miss So pushed for the “simplistic lifestyle” - she believed that the earth’s resources should be treasured through wise uses. Therefore, he recommended a group of “Breakthrough” magazine staffs to read “Small is Beautiful”, which explained the effectiveness of technology versus being transcendent. Her reasoning for simplicity is for freedom from control of materialism.
Miss So chose the path of counteracting the mainstream culture that boasts of “earning to the max” concept in the capitalistic society. Furthermore, she actively worked towards liberating women; she once asked the challenging rhetorical question of “Why is it that 30 years old is the dead end for women to get married?” in that time period.
Just before her death, Miss So completed her autobiography, “Death, Be Not Proud”, which testified of the ability of Jesus Christ in her life. Without any reservations, she devoted her life for the Lord, which allowed the power of God to be revealed through her greatly handicapped body.
In the autobiography, Miss So wrote of her superb health during childhood, but also her surprise to find out about her sickness. She described how she had to face the limitations in her ability to work, emotional collapse, sufferings and training from treatments, fear from knowing that she has cancer, the founding of “Breakthrough”, and finally writing of the article “Still a Blessing”, which revealed her proudness to be the daughter of God.
Miss So’s life witnessed God’s merciful love, protection and provisions. Despite how death encroached upon her again and again, the word “give up” has never appeared in her dictionary.
Speaking of Miss So, who started battling with cancer at age 17, Choi, the honorary general secretary of Breakthrough ministry, said that Christians today mostly devote part of their times to God, but Yan-Pui’s entire life has become the fire that ignited others and planted the seed of life inside the hearts of people.
[Editor's note: Michael Shih translated the report.]