Deacon Profile - Paul Ng
I grew up attending primarily at two churches - initially, it was First Chinese Presbyterian in New Orleans but for the most part, my time was spent at New Orleans Chinese Baptist Church. I have fond but distant memories of the first church. A family friend always volunteered to drive my mom, sister and I to church as my dad needed the car to drive to work on most Sundays. We would squeeze the three of us and the four of them in their red Buick, not wearing any seatbelts with hardly any elbow room. It was cozy. Their kindness and sacrifice stood out to me and had a significant impact on how God was going to shape my life. The Li family became my parents' best friends to this day, and their daughters were sisters to my sister and me.
Retreats, vacation Bible school, Sunday school, youth activities, potlucks, church outreaches, church picnics, etc. - they all had positive effects, but it was Reverend Kuo's sermons that spoke to me as he would preach with passion and a zest for His word. The odd thing he primarily preached in Mandarin/Cantonese and had a fellow brother translate in English. Growing up I learned the stories, made the crafts, memorized verses, and prayed often. There were several opportunities to pray, accept Jesus Christ as my Lord, and be baptized. But I was one of the last youth group members to get baptized. See for me, I took it very seriously, maybe too seriously at that age. I had witnessed older youth members get baptized, but some of their actions and words didn't exemplify God. I was naive and idealistic to believe that all Christians were soldiers for God. They would encourage me to get baptized, so I could go to heaven and live forever. I felt there was too much emphasis on dying/being in heaven and not enough about living in the present for God. It also saddened and frustrated me as I heard from secular school friends that Christians are hypocrites. As a teenager, I had a friend from church that was constantly bullied at school. And because he got in trouble at school, many parents at church didn't want their children hanging around him. To say he was misunderstood is an understatement. Fortunately, my parents trusted me and allowed me to encourage him and to be his friend. That is one example where I knew inside that I didn't want to be a lukewarm believer; I wanted to be all-in for the Kingdom of God. I was 15 when I was blessed to be baptized.
High school and college were times of maturation. I struggled with different religious views and defending the Bible to others. It wasn't until I joined a small group in college that I began to really dive into His Word and break down the origin/meaning of words. The didactic teaching was difficult to grasp but needed. Lifelong friendships blossomed as we would challenge ourselves and keep each other accountable. When I became a small group leader, it allowed me to teach, learn, and grow differently. Precious times together gave me a glimpse of what heaven would be like worshipping, praising without a worry in the world. 1996 was a powerful year. It was the year I graduated college, deferred medical school, knew Peggy would be my life partner, and went on a missionary trip to Macau. It would be a few years before China was to regain the reigns of the island. I have a special place for that region as though I am not from there, my parents and grandparents are from Hong Kong. Sometimes, I ask God why was I so fortunate to hear about the good news. It was that experience there that I began to pray more about my direct purpose was in life. It was definitely an eye opener to see how much hope and hopelessness present in their eyes. Is there something more I should be doing? There are so many people who haven't heard of Jesus. I came back learning more about who I was - reaffirming my strengths and weaknesses.
Call to Serve
Medical school was mostly a blur. I had the privilege to attend medical school in New Orleans. It had been 6 years since I was home and to spend time with my family and sister was priceless. I knew New Orleans would be a stepping stone in my journey, so I wanted to maximize my time. I was willing and ready to help out my home church, specifically the youth. I still knew many younger kids and would keep in touch with them even while in college. They had so much potential. And to this day, I am so proud of all their accomplishments and successes. But I wanted to challenge them spiritually and to prepare them for things that I have learned and seen. My plan was not part of God's plan. So even though I wanted to serve, it wasn't time. I couldn't provide the commitment they deserved and thus, the vision I had to teach them was limited. Instead, fellowshipping and encouragement were ways God used me during this time. After graduating medical school, I moved to Houston for residency. Peggy and I were beginning our next phase of life - marriage. She was serving her home church, Evangelical Formosan Church, before and after college. She was being pulled in several directions. We had to take a step back and joined a small group at another church, West Houston Chinese Church. It allowed us to grow as a couple with other Christian couples as her home church didn't have many members in that phase of life. At our new church, we learned how important it is to surround yourself with other people that have the same pulse and yearning for Christ. So there was no particular “A-ha” moment that led my desire to serve. I was saved by God's grace, and I wanted to share that opportunity with everyone. Serving others is not just an opportunity but a blessing.
Through the years I have learned that some of my spiritual gifts include shepherding, mercy, and serving. I am by God's grace, an optimist. Everyone has their own story to tell. I appreciate all stories because I am encouraged to hear how their experiences help shape and mold them through their successes and disappointments. As a health care provider, I see all types of people regardless of their gender, creed, culture, age, addictions, etc. It has allowed me to be sensitive and ponder the who's, what's, where's, why's and how's of their lives thus far. Medicine has provided me several opportunities to listen, pray, share, and cry with people I would have normally never encountered. A desire to care, to serve, to help and to heal are reasons why I am blessed to do what I enjoy and have an impact.
Strength and Weaknesses
God has provided experiences to allow me to understand what are my strengths and weaknesses. I think one of my strengths is listening and seeing situations in their specific point of view. I enjoy listening to others, and I imagine myself being in their shoes in times of jubilation, sadness, celebration, anger, numbness, etc. Being open and honest in these relationships has allowed me to inject Christ' love, hope and purpose in their situations. Having said that, one of my weaknesses is not being able to relax. Part of that is my occupation. Other times, I have a sense of urgency and do not enjoy the moment or process as I should. Having goals are great, but I have learned that it also can be a hindrance. When I went on my missionary trip, I was too focused on trying to share God's word and love that I let it consume what God was actually trying to accomplish with myself and our team. Reflections on these experiences make me appreciate to let go and allow God to do His work on His time at His pace with His grace.
Another struggle I have is empathy. This really has been a transgression over the years as a physician. It's ironic because I am sensitive in taking care of patients as I have seen disease and death from many unexplainable reasons. But my profession has hardened me in certain aspects that I cannot control. It's almost I become numb to these people as I provide care and yet sometimes I find myself over sympathizing and sharing how miracles are possible. It is a roller coaster of emotions as I am honest and direct but sympathetic and available to their needs and healing.
Balance is another weakness of mine. I have to learn to kindly decline opportunities that may stretch my time. Whether doors are being open at work, for new friendships, at home or even at church, I have to weigh how God is leading me. Peggy and I have been praying for me to slow down at work. It is a hard prayer as I am in my prime years of my career. But work has consumed so much of my time, that it is almost become an evil. Normally, one wouldn't assume work to be an evil, especially when you are taking care of people's health.
Present Ministry Involvement
Currently, I am involved with the youth ministry and participate in a small group. Both ministries humble, teach, and help me grow in several different ways. Small group allow us to pray, learn and grow with each other. I have seen God's work through the years and witnessed all of us grow through our words and actions. It is important as a small group that we fellowship together and walk in Christ through life. Being involved with the youth has always been a desire since my youth group experience help mold me to who I am today. I had such influential Christ-like men and women during my teens and their selfless time and sacrifice made a huge difference in my life. Being present and available are key and yet providing a nurturing, encouraging environment allows someone to develop their walk with our Heavenly Father.