Strike a Match in the Morning
Interview of Dr Peter Cheng, by May-Kuan Lim // 3 August 2020
Dr Peter Cheng’s earliest memory of growing up in post-war Hong Kong is seeing his grandmother strike a match to light a lamp by her bed. In the pre-dawn hours, blanket draped around her shoulders, she read her bible and prayed. She did the same before she slept. Peter’s grandmother was one of the first converts in Hong Kong under the Pentecostal ministry of Mok Lai Chi (莫禮智牧師). Growing up, Peter was very close to his grandmother, and he adopted her practise of Morning and Evening Watch, though, he said with a chuckle, ‘But I didn’t wake up as early as her.’
In the OCF Heritage oral history interview that follows, Peter talks about God’s providence enabling him to study dentistry on a Hong Kong government dental scholarship (1958 – 1962). He speaks of God’s supply when his scholarship stipend ran out after purchasing expensive dental equipment. His Youth Group back in Hong Kong sent him thirty pounds. They didn’t know he was down to one week’s rent, but the Lord knew. Peter describes summer jobs sewing wheat bags in 103 degrees heat, the joy of outreach and the significant change in his friend, Sim Hee, after Pastor Barry Chant preached on Acts 2 at Asian Fellowship (AF). AF was the precursor to OCF Adelaide, a small but vibrant group of students trying to reach out to their friends with the gospel. Crucially, the students also had the support of medical doctor, Dr Harrold Steward, and his wife, Gwenda, who opened their home to and cared for these young students.
In 1964, Peter returned to Hong Kong for four years to complete his scholarship contract with the HK government. During that time, he married Amy and they had a daughter. In 1968, the young family returned to Adelaide for Peter to pursue post-graduated qualifications in orthodontics. When Amy wasn’t coping with the challenges of caring for a newborn, Dr Steward advised Peter to send Amy back to Hong Kong for a break. With her mum’s help in Hong Kong, Amy was able to go out to meet friends, and she received the refreshment she needed. Then she resolved to come back to Adelaide be with Peter, determined to start again, because ‘my life in Hong Kong was 100% different from my life here’. Peter and Amy would go on to care for many generations of OCFers, who appreciated Amy’s home-made Char Siew Pau and Chee Cheong Fun. It was as if a generational blessing had been passed on from one godly couple to another, and on to generations of OCFers.
The interview covers about a decade of student life and ministry. Peter and Amy speak of many good things that the Lord has done. The audio file will be uploaded to OCF’s digital archive, and will help us to piece together the early days of AF. I interviewed Peter and Amy as part of the OCF Heritage team, but it became more than an exercise in preserving history. The picture of Peter’s grandmother doing Morning Watch before giving her attention to anything else stays with me. This simple act demonstrating the supremacy of the Lord in her life. I resolve not to reach for my phone when I awake to check COVID infection numbers, or to put myself to sleep by scrolling through my social media feed, but to let the Lord’s word be my first thought in the morning and my last meditation at night.