- Written by Tom Miles Tom Miles
- Created: 01 October 2011 01 October 2011
Pat Hu (Hu Pei Chwen) was born into a subsistence farmer family, in the year of the Dragon, 1916, in rural China. His family suffered through droughts and floods, and travelled 400 miles on foot to find a way to survive. Pei Chwen experienced homelessness and poverty, even begging for food. He took responsibility for himself and his younger brother while he was still just a child. American medical missionaries rescued him by giving him an opportunity to work. He became educated, served as an interpreter for the American OSS in World War II, and was given the opportunity to come to the USA, where he soon became a refugee. he had many low times, but God led him through all of his hardships, giving him wonderful opportunities to become educated and to use that education to serve others.
Patrick Pei Chwen Hu repeatedly asked, “Why me, Lord?” not as often to ask why did he suffer, but why did he survive? He came to understand that his life was preserved so he could dedicate it back in the Lord’s service.
The following is excerpted from Pat Hu’s autobiography, “Why Me, Lord? A Journey of Life,” which was pieced together from Pat’s writings over the years and from his telling of various events to his children, Lou Anne, Mark and Larry.
“Why Me, Lord?” 1
by Pat Hu
One Sunday in the morning about 9:00 AM, my younger brother and I carried a basket with a rice bowl in it and left home to beg. At that time, we lived on the south side of the famous American missionary hospital at Yijishan. It was operated by the American Methodist Mission. We heard a lot of good things that the Americans had done for the poor Chinese people. I thought if we were lucky, we might be able to meet some Americans that morning. I hoped they were as kind as I had heard, and willing to listen to two Chinese boys’ story. Certainly after they heard our true stories, they would do something to help us.
We were walking near the front entrance of the hospital and suddenly I saw an elderly American lady standing outside the front entrance of the hospital waving her right hand at us. With a smiling face she walked toward us and said Chinese words: “Lai lai lai, xiao hai ze men, qing ni men dao wo jiali lai. Wo yao jiang gushr gei nimen ting.” In English, this meant, “Come, come, come, little children. come to my home, I will tell you stories.” We were so surprised that an old American woman wanted to invite us to her home and tell us stories. But we were very happy to be invited. So without hesitation we followed her and entered her home.
I was surprised to see there were quite a number of children already sitting there waiting for the American lady to tell them the story. After we found some seats and sat down, the American lady started to talk to us. First, she told us her name was Kuo Jiau Shr (In English: Missionary Kuo). After she told us what to call her, she asked all the children to tell their names, one-by-one, to the group. She said she wanted us all to learn each other’s names. She wanted us to know each other, and to become friends from that time on. She expected all of us to come back to her home again because the story she was going to tell us was a very, very long story. It would take many weeks, maybe many months or even years to tell the story.
She asked all of us in the group to close our eyes and bow our heads and she said a prayer. After the prayer, she started to tell us the story as she promised. After the story-telling was done, she taught us to sing a song. She put up a board with four legs that supported the board. On that board was the song written in Chinese. The title of the song was: “YeSu Ai Wo”—”Jesus Loves Me.” Missionary Kuo spoke very good Chinese. She taught us the whole song in Chinese without any difficulty.
I didn’t know if other children in the group understood the meaning of the song or not. Honestly, my brother and I couldn’t understand anything about that song. It was the first time we heard the song “Jesus Loves Me.” We still didn’t understand the song even though she had given us an explanation during story time. She explained Jesus was the Son of God and Jesus came down from heaven to earth. She told us Jesus loves us even though we people on earth are sinners and need Jesus to help us clean our sinful behavior in order to enter heaven after death. We honestly didn’t understand any of the things the missionary lady told us.
While she was talking, my empty stomach was hurting. The whole time she was talking I kept looking at her hoping she would stop talking and give us something to eat. I guess none of the other children were from poor homes like me. They had food in their stomach so none of them had the miserable feeling I had at that time.
Finally, the children of the group all were treated to a cup of hot tea and some home baked sweet cookies. That was my first time tasting such good cookies. They were especially good because I was so hungry. My brother and I didn’t have anything to eat at home that morning. My brother and I were on a mission to get some food. But Missionary Kuo’s mission was to tell the children the good story of “Jesus loves me.”
That was the first time I heard the name “Jesus.” I wondered, how could Jesus love me? I never met him before. I didn’t know him, how could he love poor Chinese boys like my brother and me? After all the questions and answers, she changed subjects to ask me about my family. Who were my parents? What did my parents do to make a living? I told her my mom had died recently and my dad had a broken back from the accident at work, but because we were poor we had no money to take him to a doctor for treatment. He was enduring all the pain just laying there suffering. My dad could not do anything to earn money to buy food for the family. Because we had no food we were so hungry, and our stomachs hurt. That was the reason my brother and I were outside begging for food each day. After I talked to this point, I felt so hurt inside. I cried aloud, as did my brother. The American missionary also cried. She put her arms around the shoulders of my brother and me. The Missionary stood in the middle, my brother and I stood on each side. That was the first time I experienced human love like that. I never experienced that at home. After all the talking and crying, the Missionary asked me what I wanted to do after this. I told her I wanted to find work and earn money to feed my family. The Missionary was somewhat surprised about my answer. She asked me, “What can you do as a little boy?” I said to her, “I can clean the floor and clean the kitchen and things like that.” She took me seriously and told me, “Be sure to come here next Sunday morning, at the same time. I may have an answer for you.” My brother and I went home happily. Until now, I didn’t know anything about the love of Jesus Christ, but I prayed to Jesus to help me find some work to do.
- There is a copy of Pat’s autobiography in the church library (Room 301). You may also purchase a copy from the family. The soft-cover, wire-bound book, full of fantastic details and color photos, is $20. Contact the church office for details.
Get to know your family at Saint John’s! Each month we interview another of our long-time members to find out about their life, their Christian journey and their history at Saint John’s Lutheran.