Cry for Help

From an address delivered in April 1993 general conference.
We were paralyzed with terror when we realized the danger he was in. Then he let out the most incredible scream.

In my early childhood I lost both my parents. Aunt Gu Ma, a single sister of my father, kept my brother and me together. She brought us up in a little farming village where she grew vegetables for a living. Every morning she would carry the produce to the market in two big baskets, one on each end of a long pole resting on her shoulders. She then would bring home rice and meat purchased with the proceeds of her vegetable sales.

Aunt Gu Ma was a wonderful person. Although she had no formal education, she had a noble philosophy of life. She instilled in us correct principles, stern self-reliance, and an appreciation for the value of hard work. We are forever grateful for her love and sacrifice in our behalf.

I especially remember one occasion growing up in Hong Kong. My brother and I were returning from school during the aftermath of a severe tropical storm. The trail that we usually followed had been covered by a mud slide. Being the resourceful young boys that we were, we decided that nothing could keep us from going home. On a nearby steep hillside was a drainage pipe situated quite high above the rocky ground. If we were to get to our village, we would need to walk along that pipe. The pipe was suspended over a stream which, although normally small, had turned into a rushing torrent of mud and water. Carrying our school bags, we went up the hill and continued our expedition.

We both began cautiously treading along the narrow, slippery drainage pipe. As I approached the other side, I looked back to see how my brother was doing. I was startled to see that he was only halfway across and had come to a complete stop. He, being older and wiser, had realized what a precarious perch we were on and had instinctively frozen in his tracks, unable to continue. It was a terrifying moment for us as we realized the danger he was in, paralyzed by fear, perched there on a slippery, narrow drainage pipe suspended above a torrential river.

Then I got a big surprise. I heard the loudest scream for help I have ever heard in my life. His incredible bellow echoed through the hills and valleys. Luckily, Aunt Gu Ma was working in the fields below and heard us. She came quickly to his rescue. She lovingly guided him along and led us both home to safety.

In Hong Kong, there is a popular tourist spot known as Victoria Peak. On a clear day you can stand on the peak and enjoy a panoramic view of the bustling harbor together with the beautiful waterfront lined with skyscrapers and ferry piers. From that peak, if you look carefully, it is possible to see the distant airport with its busy air traffic and runway extending to the sea. At night, the view from the peak is even more breathtaking. The harbor is ablaze with countless lights glittering like diamonds. It is a glorious scene!

The picture, however, is not always the same. On a foggy day the scene can be dark, gloomy, and quite a disappointment. Life is so much like that for many of us. At times it can be glorious but at other times, gloomy.

Often we become anxious and fearful as we confront the complexities of life. If we seek divine guidance and follow the gospel path, we will be led to our final destination. Sometimes adversity may seem so overwhelming that we feel powerless to continue. If we appeal for help with humility and faith, our Heavenly Father will provide a way to lovingly help us through.

One day when I was 17 years of age, I came across a former neighbor of mine. He invited me to attend his church the next Sunday because he was to be a speaker in the meeting. It was there he gave his two-and-one-half minute talk, and I met the missionaries for the first time. One year later, I was baptized in the swimming pool of the Hong Kong mission home and became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Conditions in China during the 1940s were very difficult. One family with a three-month-old child left mainland China and returned to their home in Taiwan. Twenty years later, in 1963, that small child, now a young woman, arrived in Hong Kong for her studies. She responded to the invitation of the missionaries during their tracting and became a member of the Church in 1964.

A year later I returned from my university studies in Sydney, Australia, and became acquainted with that beautiful young woman, Hui Hua, in the Kowloon City Branch in Hong Kong. We were married one year later at the Kam Tong Hall in Hong Kong. The chance of our meeting instills in our minds the idea of a miracle in our lives.

Little did we know what the Lord had in store for us. Exactly 30 years to the month after my baptism (and also on my birthday), I returned with my wife to the very location of my baptism to preside as mission president of the Hong Kong Mission.

During that three-year term, we experienced inexpressible joy in watching people’s lives change as they embraced the gospel. The gospel brightened their lives. Through the gospel, hatred can turn into love, pride into humility, wickedness into righteousness, sorrow into happiness, and fear into peace. It promises us hope of returning to the presence of our Heavenly Father.

The gospel has also given me, an orphan boy, unshakable hope that someday I can be together with my family forever. I may even have a father-and-son outing with my dad to make up for my lost childhood!

As a special witness of the Lord, Jesus Christ, I share the feelings of the Apostle Paul: “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).

I express my gratitude for all the opportunities that have come to me in serving our Heavenly Father. He has blessed me with a loving wife and three wonderful children, all of whom have served missions. I am grateful to them for their unfailing support.

The 23rd Psalm says in part: “The Lord is my shepherd. … He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters” (Ps. 23:1–2).

I know God lives. The Lord is my Shepherd. He has, indeed, made me lie down in green pastures and has led me beside the still waters.

[illustration] Illustrated by Paul Mann

[illustration] Painting The Good Shepherd by William Henry Margetson