Volunteer: An Accident Yields Purpose
In 2013, the lives of Ray and Winnie Fong changed in an instant. A serious car accident resulted in a 29-day coma for Ray, followed by long-term rehabilitation for his traumatic brain injury. For nearly a decade prior to the accident, the couple had planned to retire in 2014 and serve in ministry full-time. Little did they know that their lives were being directed to fulfill that desire, but in a manner completely different to what they imagined.
God Sustained Our Lives for His glory
As the Fongs waited for the right opportunity to serve, a family friend recommended that they look into International China Concern (ICC) as an option.
“The stories on ICC’s website caught our hearts and we decided to join a Short Term Team in January 2015,” said Winnie. Immediately after that trip, they knew ICC was where they needed to be and applied to serve as long term volunteers.
With Ray’s past career as an engineer and Winnie’s nursing background, their professional skill sets were immediately used in Hengyang. While those specialties were greatly needed and valued, the Fongs said that it was investing in relationships that caused transformative growth within the lives of young people at ICC as well as their own.
Ray experienced deep joy by using his creativity to design and build projects with limited resources. Along the way, he mentored many young people. “It was gratifying to see one of the boys doing the fix-up jobs I had taught him and even teaching others how to do it,” said Ray.
Thanks to Ray’s clever “anti-wobble wok” homemade adaptation, Zheng can now cook herself even with just one hand.
As a result of the car accident, Ray still experiences cognitive side effects, but he now sees how those perceived weaknesses help him serve with purpose and empathy. His short-term memory issues have given him a child-like faith: forgetting to save face or hold grudges has made him more honest, forgiving and trusting. Ray is thankful to be able to empathise with the cognitive hurdles some of ICC’s young people face.
Happiness Found in the midst of Trial
“My biggest joy came from seeing the smiles of the children; their contagious giggling would melt anyone’s heart,” reflected Winnie. While some children can’t walk, talk or eat independently, those circumstances don’t take away from their innate value or joy. “They are satisfied and can love for a simple reason: they know people love them.”
Undoubtedly, Ray and Winnie’s love touched the lives of children and staff alike in their cumulative two-and-a-half years of service. “The Fongs were great teammates in so many ways,” said ICC Therapy Manager, Alison Kennedy. “Their presence in Hengyang strengthened our work and helped us reflect the Father’s heart more fully.”
Zhixiao loved to give hugs and spend time with Winnie while working together on sewing projects.
“When I look back, trust and obedience are so essential to follow God’s call,” said Winnie. From professional careers to a devastating accident, and countless moments in between, each experience built a foundation of expertise and empathy within the Fongs. That groundwork ultimately led them to a life-changing opportunity in China that transformed their lives and those they served.
“There is nothing I would change about the precious time that Ray and I spent in China,” shared Winnie. “The stories of our experiences in China are endless. And, best of all, the stories go on.”