1907 - 1986"To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."
-- Lōa's Calligraph and his Life GoalWhile Rev. Bú-Tong Hwang (黃武東) and Dr. Chiau-Seng Hwang (黃昭聲) appeared on this site as father-son, this article would mark as the first two Taiwanese figures appeared here related to each other in marriage. The daughter of Chhòa Pôe-Hóe (蔡培火 posted April 12, 2007) married to the son of Lōa Bûn-Liông (賴文良.)
I had heard of Mr. Chhòa often back in Taiwan but never met him. I first heard of Mr. Lōa was at a Detroit area Taiwanese church late in 1986. Even though I never met Lōa in person but felt like I had known him well through his family members.
Lōa was a traditional and disciplined gentleman. He took his time to shave well, to dress properly and to enjoy mostly the classical music. He also loved to read and to work in the garden. Most of all, he loved the nature, his family and the communities.
Lōa was born on 1907, 12 years into the Japan’s rule of Taiwan that had brought modernization of infrastructure and educational system to Taiwan. Lōa’s father died when he was nine. He was raised by his mother with some family owned lands in Tōa-nâ (大林). After three years at the Tainan Normal School, Lōa decided to pursue his higher education in Japan. He got transferred to a Tokyo high school, and whence successfully gained admission to the Tokyo Institute of Technology, one of the top colleges in Japan. Upon graduation in electrical engineering, he took a break coming home before taking up a lucrative job offer in Japan. But Lōa’s mother, having long for her only son to return, found him a very nice lady Miss Chan (曾綢, also well educated), and urged him to stay. Lōa’s plan for returning to Japan thus ended but a love story and a very fine family began to form.
As a then rare college graduate, Lōa took a job as a supervisor in the major sugar refinery. After several years, he accepted an invitation by the town elders to return to Tōa-nâ, to manage the local agricultural corporative. Within a few years he was able to turn the organization around into the black. He recruited educated Taiwanese youths to the team, and added facilities for storage and distribution of farm produces, contributing to the local economy. Lōa’s leadership and amiable personality won the trust of the community. His son Hiro (弘典) recalled an incident years later when once he was caught riding a bike without the front lamp lit in the evening. While Hiro waited to be fined at the police station an officer recognized him. When he was confirmed to be indeed Mr. Lōa’s son, Hiro was given a verbal warning and sent home without penalty.
Towards the end of WWII, a shortage of qualified technical school teachers developed as Japanese teachers got drafted to the war. Lōa was called upon to teach at the Tâi-Tiong (台中) Technical High School, a prestigious position. When the war ended and the Chinese took over Taiwan, however, Lōa was appointed to take charge of the Tang-shi (東勢) county government in Tâi-Tiong area. In the ensuing tumultuous years of culture shock and confusion, Lōa managed to maintain peace and stability in the area. It was not a small feat and he won warm support of the Tang-shi people. But the pressure was great, and Mrs. Lōa became ill with tuberculosis around the time their last child Siù-Khêng was born. Then, Siù-Khêng also contracted the disease on the spine, and Lōa had to spend increasing amount of time for their medical cares.
It was a tough and long journey for the entire family. Lōa resigned from his job and took the family back to Tōa-nâ. While by the grace of God Siù-Khêng’s condition got stabilized, that of Mrs. Lōa’s continued to deteriorate despite of the use of a new antibiotic. At one time lady Chan’s condition was so critical that even the doctors turned pessimistic. At one time she pleaded her husband to “Please give it up. We all suffered enough already.” Still Lōa refused to give it up, and continued to pray to the All Mighty he had come to trust.
Miraculously Mrs. Lōa’s condition turned around, and she felt better by the days. She continued to regain her strength slowly yet surely. With friends from Tōa-nâ church who had often prayed for her, Mrs. Lōa began to attend the church services. The entire family soon followed, and eventually they all converted into Christians.
As normalcy returned, Lōa started to work as a mathematic and physics teacher at public high schools in nearby towns. The ‘land reform’ that the Chinese imposed on Taiwan had taken away most of Lōa’s lands, and his working became a necessity. Fortunately the workload was relatively light, so Lōa could devote large part of his time to church affairs. He studied the Bible diligently, and his morning prayer became a daily must. Having been a local celebrity and because of his dedication to faith, he was elected as the church elder just a year after his baptism.
When Tōa-nâ church, with its aging wooden structure next to the busy market, was looking to a new building, Lōa took the leadership in the project. From fund-raising, selection of the building site to design, contracting and construction, he worked incessantly, and with prayer. The contractor of the church building was so moved by Lōa’s sincere attitude and strong faith that he later became a Christian himself. The new church of brick and concrete, with an affiliated kindergarten was dedicated on 1965. Lōa’s calligraphy was installed permanently on the insignia of the new Tōa-nâ Presbyterian Church. When he left Tōa-nâ for the US several years later, he was made the honorary elder of the church.
Mr. and Mrs. Lōa raised three daughters and four sons. He taught his children in such a way that good traditions were to free people’s thoughts, not to limit them. Unlike some families at the time, Lōa’s family value was “to have quality of life among children” (但願子孫賢.) Lōa practiced what he preached. Among his children, there are professor, electrical engineers, dentists, and software developer. All are actively involved in the Taiwanese American churches and communities. And there are doctors, lawyers and other professionals among his grandchildren.
Lōa’s calligraphy was outstanding since he was very young. After he retired with his wife to the United States, when not playing with their grandchildren, he continued to demonstrate his beautiful writing skill with Biblical verses. His favorite one was from the Old Testament, “To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
Mrs. Lōa***, once almost died from tuberculosis, now at the age of 97, still shows up in the church near Detroit every Sunday. When asked what she was doing there, her answer was simply, “To give thanks to the Lord.”
** Mr. Lōa Bûn-Liông would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2007.**
*** Mrs. Lōa passed away April 2008 at the age of 98, with moving memorial services in both Detroit and New York *** Updated, May 2008
Related website: http://www.pctedu.org/~kagipct/church/c11.htm