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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Po-Chuen's bow

The gracious gesture of a dying man blessed me

The most amazing thing is — I didn't know Po-Chuen well. Yet in one brief moment, he touched me deeply and taught me an unforgettable lesson in the graciousness of God.

I met Po-Chuen when I worked as a secretary for the dean of students at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, Calif. Po-Chuen and his wife, Jane, were students there from Hong Kong. They impressed me, as international students always did, with their openness to challenge and newness. Not only did they undertake the rigors of graduate study, but they did it in a language that wasn't theirs and in the midst of a strange and often-confusing culture. I admired their enthusiasm and courage.

But soon Po-Chuen and Jane faced a much greater challenge than studying in a foreign country. Disturbing physical symptoms caused Po-Chuen to seek medical opinions. Doctors assured him he was fine, but the symptoms persisted. Eventually his fears were confirmed: He had nasopharyngeal cancer, which attacks the nose and pharynx (the area between the mouth and esophagus). Although fairly common in Hong Kong and readily cured if detected early, this cancer is rarely seen in the United States. By the time diagnosis was made, Po-Chuen's cancer was too advanced to be successfully treated.


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