While on a recent vacation in Japan, an LDS family from Taiwan lost its husband and father. Despite the difficult circumstances, the love and fellowship of Japanese Latter-day Saints became a strong source of comfort for the family.
"It's a sad but uplifting rescue story," Arnie Chen, a friend of the family and first counselor in the Taoyuan Taiwan stake presidency, wrote in an email to the Deseret News and shared with permission from the family.
Bing-Cheng Lin and his wife, Chia-Hsiang Chen, were baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Nov. 2, 2014. They were sealed as a family with their two children in the Taipei Taiwan Temple on Dec. 19, 2015. They are members of the Taoyuan 3rd Ward of the Taoyuan Taiwan Stake.
After a recent weeklong tour in Okinawa, Japan, a large family group, including the Lin family, was preparing to leave their hotel and fly back to Taiwan when the 45-year-old Lin felt pain in his chest and lost consciousness. His wife and her sister administered CPR until an ambulance arrived and took him to the Okinawa Kyodo Hospital, Arnie Chen wrote.
Some of the family, including Lin's two young children, proceeded to the airport. Lin's wife and her older sister went with him to the hospital. Lin's brother-in-law, Yi-Ren Chu, contacted Chen in Taiwan to see if he could help them connect with LDS Church members in the Okinawa area.
"The two sisters definitely need help," Chu said according to Chen's email.
Okinawa is part of the Fukuoka Japan Mission of the LDS Church, so Chen reached out to President Bradley C. Egan and explained the situation. He requested someone give Lin a priesthood blessing. President Egan said he would call a missionary couple serving in the area.
Chen, who also serves as the temple recorder in the Taipei Taiwan Temple, knew a member from Okinawa who has served in the Taipei temple named Sufuan Kaneshiro. He thought she could help the two women, and when he called, she agreed to go right away. Over the next few days, Kaneshiro served as the Lin family translator and accompanied them most of the time.
After lunch that day, Chen began to fast for Lin and his family. A social media message requesting faith, prayers and encouragement for Lin and his family was also sent to ward members, Chen wrote.
Meanwhile in the Okinawa hospital, Lin had received a heart stent and was in a coma. Doctors said he needed to be observed for three days. His wife was worried but grateful for the company of the missionaries and members at the hospital, Chen wrote.
The following day was Sunday. Members of Lin's LDS ward in Taiwan continued to pray for his family and well-being. They found solace in singing hymns, partaking of the sacrament and bearing testimonies. They tried to comfort Lin's mother, who isn't LDS, and her two sisters' families, who had just returned from Okinawa and attended worship services.
"My eyes filled with tears because the Spirit was so strong and testified to me that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is true and only through him we can find peace and comfort during these hard times," Chen wrote.
Chen received a message from Kaneshiro during Sunday School saying Lin would likely die soon, and the family should be ready for that possibility. That sad news was confirmed the following morning, Chen wrote.
Four days after the heart attack, a funeral was held in Okinawa for Lin. Many local church leaders and members, including Okinawa stake President Hiroaki Yoza, attended the funeral in support of Lin's family, Chen wrote.
"The funeral was small and short, but the Spirit of the Lord filled everyone's heart and they were all touched by the Holy Ghost," Kaneshiro told Chen. "Although Lin’s mother and his younger sister are nonmembers, they sang the hymn and prayed with them. They also received a priesthood blessing. President Yoza and these brethren served as the pallbearers for brother Lin after the meeting. The Lin family was comforted and uplifted by these first-time-met brothers and sisters in the gospel and they were deeply moved by their service."
More than 30 ward members greeted Lin's wife at the Taiwan airport on Wednesday, March 8. While it was a sad reunion, Lin's wife recounted how she was "treated and rescued" by Latter-day Saints in Okinawa, and "it melted our hearts again," Chen wrote.
Lin's wife said it was not a coincidence that one of the doctors was Shibayama Noeru, a counselor in a local bishopric. In addition to having the family's best interests at heart, it turned out that Lin was Noeru's last patient at that hospital because he was being transferred to another facility. Because of Noeru, missionaries were allowed to enter the Intensive Care Unit and administer a priesthood blessing after hours. Noeru felt bad he was not able to save Lin's life but personally lifted and moved Lin's body into a coffin, an act that was meaningful to Lin's wife.
"My testimony has been strengthened through sister Lin's and her family's faith to see the light of Christ in this deepest sorrow," Noeru wrote in an email to Chen and shared with permission. "I believe that there is no single broken heart that the Lord Jesus Christ cannot heal. I will never forget him (Lin) and (will) be waiting to see him delightfully again in near future."
On several occasions, President Yoza and his wife sacrificed time at their jobs to bring food and drinks to hospital for the Lin family, Chen wrote.
While disheartened by the loss of a faithful member and friend, those involved expressed gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who is quick to dispatch his angels in times of trial. Being part of a worldwide network is a great blessing, Chen wrote.
"Our members have learned from this experience that the church is true wherever it is in the world," Chen wrote. "We are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and we are not alone wherever we are. We are all grateful for the rescuing efforts performed by these wonderful Saints in Japan."
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