Tri-City Chinese Baptist Church

To Live is to be an Offering to the Lord — Fanny Poon

In Memory of Karlson Poon by Fanny Poon, October 26, 2020

Psalms 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

My late husband, Karlson Poon, went home to be with the Lord on July 8, 2020 while he was being prepared to have fluid drained from his lungs when his heart suddenly failed.  He had just celebrated his 56th birthday.  Although my 3 sons and I knew that he was physically weak, but when the reality of his passing struck us, each time when we recalled his words, his mannerism, his laughter, his anger, tears would simply well up in our eyes.  We missed him deeply.

Cancer can be said to be Karlson’s “thorn in the flesh” for him to be more obedient to God, to trust Him more, and to experience Him as His child. He was first diagnosed with Paranasal Sinus (Cancer of the Nasal Cavity) when he was 15 and he recounted that it was radiation therapy  that healed him.  However, he suffered from its many side effects. At 30, he began to lose his hearing, had double vision, decreased energy level and so on. In 2011, when he was 47 years old, he was diagnosed to have a Stage 4 cancer of the parotid gland, suspected to be related to his radiation therapy. In the following two years, he underwent 6 surgeries, the most extensive of which was the very first which took 14 hours and three surgeons taking turns to complete. That surgery removed the entire parotid gland, surrounding tissues and the inner ear cavity on the right side of his face. They also grind down his lower jawbone and removed part of his ear.  They then took a muscle from his left leg to fill up what they had removed from his right face. Just listening to the description of the procedures will cause one’s hair to stand on end. After that, the cancer cells had spread to parts of the body below his neck.  Between 2014 and 2019, he underwent continuous chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and changes to his medication, all to no avail. In 2019, he underwent two courses of radiation treatment.

II Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Karlson would sometimes boast that since he had undergone all three major forms of cancer therapy, he was the most experienced person in the world in that field.  I am sharing all these not because I am complaining or being bitter but to share with all of you that God’s grace is sufficient, and He loves His own.  Although Karlson went through 6 major and minor surgeries, the truth is, he had not taken even a single painkiller; in 4 years of chemotherapy, he never once vomited; in the two courses of radium treatment he never got burned nor got his mouth messed up.  This is the evidence of God’s care and mercy and the reason he was able to find peace in all he went through all those years.

II Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

On October 4 1992, Karlson was baptized into the fellowship of TriCity Chinese Baptist Church in Fremont, California.  Through the ministry of Rev. Hsu and his patience in teaching, discipling and wise counsel, Karlson built a strong foundation for his faith and faithfulness in the Lord.  I came to know Karlson at the same church and we married in February 1997 and in four years, God gave us three healthy and adorable boys. January 2000, led by the Holy Spirit, Karlson gave up his work as an electrical engineer and relocated the entire family to the Golden Gate Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California to pursue the M.Div. degree program in preparation for the vocational ministry.  Life for the family in Mill Valley was fabulous.  He attended classes.  I took care of our three young sons. We lived a simple lifestyle but a joyful one. In 2003, we moved to Southern California where Karlson served his field ministry at the South Orange County Chinese Baptist Church for a year.  Through the wise counsel of the Rev. Wilfred Chung and the care of the brothers and sisters, we felt affirmed in going to serve in Mexico as a missionary.

Mexicali is a small desert town located on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border.  Between May and September every year, the average temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit although it could reach as high as 125 degrees Fahrenheit. When we first arrived, Karlson would usually carry a backpack with an umbrella on hand when going on his rounds in visiting the Chinese diaspora in Mexicali and preaching the Gospel to them.  Gradually, “Mr. Poon” has become a recognized face in Mexicali and a representative of the church among the Chinese community there. Early in 2005, Pastor Hsu and Mrs. Hsu came to visit us and through his encouragement and teaching, Karlson finally decided to form an independent church. As a result, the Mexicali Chinese Baptist Church was constituted, the first spiritual home for Chinese believers.  We praise God that in the last 15 years, many churches have sent mission teams to help us in fulfilling many aspects of the work here.   When Karlson was up to it energy wise, he would personally welcome the mission teams joyfully and participate with them in the ministry.  After his major surgery which caused his right face to be paralyzed, he would still insist on preaching and participation in the ministry of the church so long as his physical health allowed.  In his weakness, God affirmed his faith.  When he was tired, God gave him strength. Later, as his condition worsened, he spent most of his time resting at home. Even so, he had not forgotten his commission from the Lord.  Because of this, the Lord opened the door of preaching the Gospel for him on the internet through platforms such as WhatsApp, WeChat, and QQ.  These helped him greatly in conducting Bible Studies, sharing God’s Word, connecting with fellow believers to share in their joys and their cares.  Indeed! A smoldering wick he will not snuff out. God gave sufficient grace for a smoldering wick like Karlson to continue to lead truth seeking sheep that are lost in this dark world to The Truth.

Psalms 127:4  “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.”

Karlson adores his three sons.  When they left for college, he missed them dearly.  He would always say, “They are my three angels!”  The children served the Lord with us in the church.  They were good at playing the viola and the violin and so, naturally, they became the musicians during worship.  When they were in high school, they led the cell groups and the youth fellowship and whenever the church had music theory and English classes, they served as teachers.

The children are grown now, and we are greatly comforted.  The Lord watched over them and rewarded them.  The college tuition for two them which would normally cost USD100,000 on average was provided by the Lord.  As a result, they did not need to take out any student loans and as parents, we did not have to worry about them financially.  The Lord simply provided! We celebrated Karlson’s 56th Birthday recently but because of COVID 19, all the three children were home for four full months, and they were able to be with their dad. It was such an extraordinary and unexpected blessing and grace.

Matthew 9:38  “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” At present, I have taken up the responsibilities of the church on an interim basis.  But the Mexicali Chinese Baptist Church have a dire need for a pastor to come to shepherd and care for the Lord’s sheep.  May the Lord call out his servants to the harvest field and they will respond to His call.

Preparing to relocate to Mexicali in 2004, and family photo in 2020


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