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Interview: Chen Wen Yen, Taiwan's living Forrest Gump

Forgetting what is behind and straining forward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
( [email protected] ) Jul 19, 2005 04:06 PM EDT

Forward: Chen Wen Yen, Taiwan's living Forrest Gump is now 41 years old. Since a young age, he had a serious condition of near-sightedness. In addition, he lost his vision in an accident in High School. He tried committing suicide many times, but because of God's love and many people's encouragements from many people, not only was he able to stand up but he was able to stand on many accomplishments. His life story will be edited into sixth grade after school tutorial. He has established Taiwan Forrest Gump Mental Development Association in hopes of proclaiming love and exercise.

Q: Can you describe the important turning points of your life?

If you want to draw a graph, the first half of my life is a 'W', and the second half is 'V'. There are many highs and lows of lows in the front part, but the back part is gradually going up. The first stage is during the time in 6th grade when my father passed away. Our financial condition were poor, we can only work hand-crafts. Since birth, I did not have good eye sight. I cannot see with my right eyes, left eye has severe near-sightedness. My vision is only around 0.03. When I was 17 years old, I studied and worked in a blind recovery center. While I studied, I learned how to massage.

When I was 22, I was student as Taipei School for the Visually Impaired. At night time, because I did not want to bother my classmates from sleeping, I would go to the shower to study, use the washing machine as my table, clothing racks as my bookshelf. One day, when it is almost dawn, I wanted to return to my room to rest, but because I was really tired, so I accidentally fell to the floor, my eyes hit the side of a chair and it started to bleed heavily. The school sent me to a hospital, but after examining my eyes, the doctor said that I won't be able to recover my vision. At that time, in my heart, there is hopelessness. I wanted to end everything. I wanted to end my life, tried committing suicide by jumping off a building and crashing into cars.

Since I lost my vision, a friend of mine invited me to stay at his house. At that time, he was longing for the word, so every Sunday he would go to church (Chen Pei Holiness Church). He asked me if I wanted to go. I thought that because I have nothing else to do, so I would go with him. After spending two years in church, I've decided to become baptized at the age of 28 years old.

From 28 years old to 41 years old, my life of faith and exercise career officially began. After believing in the Lord, my favorite verses are: "If there is anyone who is in Christ, then he is a news creation, the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17) In the past, I felt pain because I was hurt, but after I was baptized and have faith as my goal, I have another verse that I really like: "Forgetting what is behind and straining forward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) Through faith, I've made a new life plan. This life I live I will run for public Philanthropy.

Reporter: Why do you like running Marathon? Is it because it trains your mind and determination?

Ever since I am little, I really like running, because while running, your body feels really light and it is good for heart arteries, and I feel really happy in my heart. At that time, I wanted to be an athlete. However, until I became blind, I always felt that it is impossible to accomplish my dreams; but God allowed me to meet Coach Liu Wen Huh and Coach Wu Hsin Cheon, who took me to run marathons and climb mountain, allowing me to become the first Taiwanese blind to finish running the marathon.

I have climbed up Taiwan's highest mountain Yushan (4000 meters), Japan's highest mountain; I've also ran around the entire Taiwan (999km). Then I ran for Liu Xia (Hsin Lin-chi), I thought about twenty years ago, she proclaimed the gospel from her wheel chair. Today, I wish to use my legs to proclaim the gospel. Soon after, Chinese christian Relief Association sponsored the 1919 Love Moves Race, I ran 666 km. At that time, the churches in the entire province ran continuously for 10 days with athletes relaying from one to the next, but I ran the entire course by myself.

I feel that running can train my concentration and persistence. If I were to run the tracks in school, I can run 105 laps (Every lap is 40 m) all at once, and the marathon is 42,195 km. This is challenging the limitations of human body and it is characterized to guide one to be goal-oriented. Then I had the opportunity to participate to in the Bangkok and Seoul Olympics, in Thailand Olympics of Disabilities Marathon I got received second place. Until now, I have already ran 27 marathon. My goal is to challenge 100 marathons.

Not only can running help train persistence, but it can also allow one to overcome different kinds of environments. For example, when I run long runs in New York, it was zero degrees but I still ran; and the weather in the Bangkok marathon was very hot, 30 degrees, so no matter if it is raining or cloudy, day or night, I run. Compared to most people, I cannot see, so I have to rely on using 'guiding rope'. I run with my coach, who is always guiding me by my side and it helped us developed great team work.

Reporter: Can you introduce the vision and meaning behind the establishment of Taiwan Forrest Gump Mental Development Association?

There are three goals to establishing Taiwan Forrest Gump Association. First, it is to be absolutely willing to be a happy blind; second, it is willingly to be joyful in pushing forward the sports gospel; third, it is to proclaim the gospel. The vision of Taiwan Forrest Gump Mental Development Association is to provide healthy recreational exercises, economic exercises and community exercises. Through the direction of faith in the Lord, I hope to be able to guide all aspects of people's spiritual development in a healthy way.

I wish to not only train athletes to become nationals, but to also help them develop their life's plans, providing a market of career for them. In addition, I wish to promote National Health Planning, because there are too many people with careless attitudes about their health, which lead to heart attacks, diabetes, obesities, etc. Besides this, if there is any opportunity, we can also promote in churches; for example, after Sunday Service, we can form a team of 100 people for slow runs. This can also become a method to proclaim the gospel. And the short-term goal of Taiwan Forrest Gump Association is to train and develop athletes to be able to participate in the 2008 Chinese Olympics.

Reporter: I have heard that you will publish a book. Can you reveal the title and the plot?

Other than working for sports gospel ministry, I also want to do life education. After the book is published, I will arrange sports life courses. The Lord has given me much grace. The grades that I have now are given by God. Even though we may have lots of awards, but the most important thing is the life of faith.

This book is my life story. There is a movie called "Forrest Gump". Ma Ying Jo, mayor of Taipei City, called me the living Forrest Gump of Taiwan, so the media calls me by this nickname. For now, I will name the title of the book, "Running on the Unseen Road." Many people will lose direction in their lives, or regret the decisions that they have made; but I want to testify that even if I have nothing, I can be happy. I have the light in my heart. I hope this message can be passed from Taiwan to Hong Kong to China, and from Asia to places where there are Chinese, and become a testimony for the Lord. The plot of the story will begin from my youth until I grew up, met the Lord, participated in the races, and ran the marathon, etc. Everything will be recorded. I hope this book can encourage more people to live their lives positively.