Pius Chi-Shing Lee
The tranquil days and idyllic scenery of Norway were surreal. I indulged in that for over 6 years. Although Oslo, Norway was remote from Chinese theological educational opportunities, I was blessed by Bible teachers from the Chinese Overseas Christian Missions from London and Hong Kong Alliance Bible Seminary through Theological Education by Extension. I continued to learn theology and remained active in the Scandinavian Chinese Church (SCC) whenever I was free from my ocean engineering job. However, the most influential teachers during my Oslo days were the SCC advisors: Bible-woman Annie Skau Berntsen (司務道), Pastors Anders Tangerås (湯格柔), and Georg Rinvold (任芝清). They were former missionaries in China and continued to love Chinese until their last breaths in their earthly sojourns. I had sweet fellowships with these elderly missionaries and no remote learning can impact my life more than these many tangible occasions sharing meals and prayer times with these genuine Christians. Among many influential encounters with them, one of the occasions came vividly to my memory. During a visitation to Sister Annie’s Horten home, in southern Norway, she cooked us lunch and entertained us afterwards with the song “God’s way is the best way” playing the piano and singing along all by herself. It was a heavenly experience.
Christian fellowship is precious. I encourage you, readers, not to shy away from in-person church meetings since online and virtual meetings are blatant deserting of church attendance as forbidden by the Bible : “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”(Hebrews 10:25). Do not miss out the sweet fellowship and mutual edification in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus when genuine Christians congregate.
In the late 1980’s, a work-related conference brought me to Taipei. My experience there, figuratively speaking, hit me with a tornado’s extreme gust force that plucked me out from the comforts and routines in Oslo. The conference was held in Grand Hotel (圓山大飯店) at the waist of Mountain Yuan (圓山) in ZhongShan District (中山區), Taipei. The hotel is situated at a higher elevation in the metropolitan area of Taipei. I stayed at a friend’s place in a low-lying part of the city and must take a bus daily to Mountain Yuan. In the late 80’s, Taipei still had many diesel buses resembling the US Greyhound buses. They spewed out blackish exhausts. The bus I depended on heading to Mountain Yuan did not have a stop near the hotel but instead it passed the foothill where the hotel was situated.
Once on the bus, I asked one of the nearby passengers for directions. A kind lady in her early 30’s responded. She was friendly and politely said she worked in the hotel and there was a stairway winding up the hill reaching the hotel. She volunteered to guide me up that stairway. We could see the hotel on the mountain waist from far away. It was a major landmark. As the hotel loomed near, it was a large ancient-style Chinese Palace looking structure. The large hotel at the mountain waist was even more imposing-looking as we peeped upwards from the bus stop at the foothill of Mountain Yuan. Once disembarked from the bus, we could see the eaves of the palace styled Grand Hotel hundreds of feet above us. There were 3 flights of stairs, each maybe 150 steps long. I noticed that the kind lady walking a few feet in front of me began to pant and I looked behind me. I saw the ZhongShan District underneath us. It was capped in a misty smog of air pollution. The kind lady said to me: “Young man, go slow, everyday I walk this path I need to take rest at each of the stair bends”. She was panting. I was having some breathing problems too as the air was acidic and impregnated with air pollutants. Further higher up the stairs, I saw a larger extent of Taipei, sitting in a valley capped by a brownish doom of unhealthy air. This suffocating imagery still haunted me to this day 35 years later. This lady’s respiratory health might have been jeopardized by the city’s air pollution. Although that was my first trip to Taipei, that encounter with a commoner resident there was very powerful. I thought to myself, sanitary engineering might not be as urgent as air pollution abatement. This encounter corroborated with a few stories I heard from Oslo that Shanghai was experiencing similar outbreaks of respiratory health issues for children and the elderly due to air pollution — in the 70’s and 80’s most Chinese immigrants in Oslo were of Shanghainese descent, and they had a tight connection with their hometown.
Coincidentally, there was a reorganization in the ocean engineering firm where I worked. I had a prolonged period of time to rethink work, church, and nature stewardship as a Christian. The encounter in Taipei became a catalyst motivating me to explore the possibility of a career change from being an ocean engineer that helped petroleum production aggravating air pollution to becoming an environmental scientist to help curbing air pollution. It was nothing short of miracles upon miracles that I could venture out of my comfort zone in Oslo to go to Aichi Prefecture, Japan to study air pollution. The reason for choosing Japan was because of the similarity factor in culture. A successful air pollution resolution must simultaneously (1) Raising public awareness, (2) Applying technological innovation, and (3) Legislating air pollution abatement policies. Japan had succeeded in this three-prong approach and should be emulated for Shanghai, Taipei and Hong Kong.
As Proverbs described the state of the heart of a man and his footsteps: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). It was roughly an eight-month lapse between my decision of going back to school and actually boarding a plane to realize the decision. Every step along that life-path-altering change, God was faithful and generous in His providence. One of most touching gifts to me days before my departing Oslo was a sizable monetary gift from Sister Alice Tang (湯靜琪）, sister-in-law of Rev. Timothy Chao (趙世光牧師). This elderly sister encouraged me and assured me that the plan of our merciful God would converge despite the immediate uncertainties. She prayed for me and admonished me to set my ambition straight that: “God will use you.”
On my inauguration as the Development Director of NYSTM on October 29 last year, I quoted a conversation between Rev. Peter Ng and I that “I uprighted myself” when I changed career from studying ocean to studying the atmosphere. Namely, the co-ordinate axis for ocean studies points downwards, whereas that for atmospheric studies points upwards. It demands enormous energy to upright a person from a bad habit such as binge drinking or serial smoking. It is much harder to upright the heart from wickedness to righteousness. For me, changing my career took the aforementioned indelible encounter in Taipei. The aforementioned anecdote: “uprighting myself by a tornado category strong gust” as described in the first paragraph was a configurative description, the immense consequence of that change was revolutionary for myself and for my future family. Since this chapter began in Japan, a subsequent sharing will elaborate on the many spiritual droughts and timely showers of sprinklings of divine provisions during our residence in this mystically beautiful yet spiritually-slumbering country of Japan.
Author: Pastor (Dr.) Pius Lee is the Director of the Development Division of NYSTM. In 2021, he retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, and was selected the winner of NOAA’s Administrator’s Award for the Air Pollution Forecasting Research Group in 2020. Pastor Lee and Mrs. Ancy Thuyen-Anh, Lee have three sons and one daughter. The couple relocated from the capital, Washington, to New York to take up the post.
Pius Lee. “[Storm Buster series] Brown Clouds over Taipei” NYSTM Truth Monthly, February, 2023.
當我們一家被迫拋屋棄貨被驅逐到龍安省（Long An）的一個小鎮墟（Thu Thua）之後；我們的戶口被取消，孩子同時也被取消在城市內上學的資格。四哥與我、弟妹都要輟學。
Storm surge causes inundation of large swaths of coastal land. Eleven years ago, storm surge from Hurricane Sandy havocked large damages in New York (NY) and New Jersey (NJ). Today, some of those destructions are still noticeable and remain unrepaired.
The Vietnamese government had planned well ahead and prepared many makeshift-hut developments such as the one we were sent among all the villages and provinces.
Upon the confiscation of our family-cloth-business, there was an undercover policewoman stationed at our home for three weeks every day from 7:00 am till 6:00 pm. Our every move was scrutinized⋯⋯
Autumn is pleasant. It has many public holidays for the most populous countries in the northern hemisphere. In the U.S. we have Labor Day, Columbus Day and the Veterans Day. In China there are Mid-Autumn Festival and Double-Yang Festival.
We were all stunned by the apocalyptic scenes of devastation and destitution caused by wildfires in Maui, HI. The utter sense of desolation and desperation was overwhelmingly sad. It destroyed the idyllic Island of Maui. Many people are still in denial and disbelief when they look at the news reports.
Mom and dad ran a textile and cloth business for thirty years. Their humble street hawker beginning was never remote. Only through thrift living and hard work did mom and dad gradually expand their business and eventually proudly owned a retail shop in the middle of the vegetable markets.
Heatwaves in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere captured the public’s attention. The inadequacy of the central air conditioning units in many of the northern cities testifies to the unexpected increase in air temperature across Northern Europe, Asia and America.
Born in Vietnam, my siblings of six including myself, lived in a Chinese town called “Cholon”. Cantonese was the business dialect that even the native Vietnamese learned to speak. Many of the Vietnamese natives sent their children to Chinese schools.
Man is an adventurous creature. In the pre-pandemic year of 2019 the US travel and tourism industry generated 1.9 trillion dollars in economic output. That was a startling 9% of the nation’s corresponding GDP of 21.38 trillion dollars in 2019.
When the communists took over Vietnam in 1975, my second eldest brother (David), I and my younger brother (Kevin) were studying in the “Same Heart” middle-and-elementary school in Cholon, Vietnam. Originally a private school, it was changed to a public school under the communist government.
My parents ran a textile and clothes retail shop from our home. Under the new communist government after the Vietnamese civil war, every home was eager to sew the new national flag. Therefore, all of a sudden our home business was thriving beyond our wildest imaginations.
Pollen allergy is more commonly known as hay fever. Medically speaking, it is called seasonal allergic rhinitis —- a provocation of the immune system to overreact to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. Hay fever occurs mainly in the spring and fall when pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds are in the air.
In the May issue we mentioned the civil war between North and South Vietnam. It finally ended on the so-called “Liberation Date” on April 30, 1975. The North united the country into a communist country.
▪︎前美國國家氣象局 NOAA 氣象預測科研組長
▪︎現國際短宣使團 (義務) 總幹事
▪︎2022年9月起成爲 IFSTM 國宣跨文化訓練講師
▪︎現任 Fairlea Aged Care, Harris Park & Rosehill, Sydney 院牧