Eric’s Story

Eric’s Story


“When I reflect on my life so far I strongly believe God has been with me and has a wonderful plan for my life.”

Eric Chiu
Born in Darkness

I was born in China in 1953. My family did not know I was blind until one day somebody waved to me from the upstairs of our house and I did not respond. After confirming that I was born blind my mother was the one in the family who disliked me the most. I learned from a family friend who told me my mother had made a declaration that our family was no longer Christian because up until then the people in our village considered us to be a Christian family as my great-grandfather was a Christian.

Fortunately, God did not forsake me because he blessed me with a very good grandmother who loved me very much and would do whatever she could to take care of me. I was very sick once and my father told me they actually believed I would die. However, my grandmother did not give up. She knew somebody in the town who had the right medicine to help me. In those days western medicine was very scarce and expensive in China. So, she took the trouble of walking to town to beg for the medicine to save me. Finally, my grandmother was successful to get what I needed and I was cured. Thank God for his mercy that I could live. I remember whenever my grandmother could spare a little bit of money she would get more nutritious food for me to help my eyes. However, whenever this happened my mother would be very unhappy and curse me. Grandmother realized that the best way to help me with my future was to get me to Hong Kong. So she kept on urging my father to do whatever he could to have this done. Unfortunately, she was not able to see this happen because she died of tuberculosis when I was only a few years old. Undoubtedly, the death of my grandmother was a huge loss for me. Although my father was not bad to me, he had already gone to Hong Kong after the death of my grandmother. In those days I spent most of the time by myself wandering around the village. Sometimes I heard an old lady singing hymns with the door closed. Although I did not know those Christian hymns until after I went to Hong Kong, I had a special impression of them. I later found out one of the hymns I heard from this old lady was “Abide with me”. I believe the Holy Spirit had started to work in me then.

Escape to Hope

One day my mother suddenly came home from working in the field and took me to
town to take a photograph and told me she was applying to go to Hong Kong with me. After a period of time, I heard that the government had cut my mother off from the photograph and would only allow me to leave China because I was blind. Since my mother was not permitted to go with me, a solution had to be found for me to go to Hong Kong. Thank God, our next-door neighbour, a grandmother whose family was very close to us, was very kind to offer to take me with her and her grandson to Hong Kong.

We traveled first to Macau, a Portuguese colony because a very limited
daily quota to go to Hong Kong would take us many months to get there. After reaching Macau, it took us a few months to arrange for us to be smuggled to Hong Kong by boat. During the night as we were boarding the boat, I nearly fell into the sea. Thank God when they did not see me aboard they came to look for me. There were five of us put in the bottom of the boat where it was hot and dark and we were squeezed into an area of about 40 square feet. It took us two nights and two days before we reached Hong Kong. I remember I could not eat during this terrible journey due to the heat and seasickness.

Encountering the Light

Shortly after my arrival in Hong Kong, I started to receive treatments for my eyes, both with Western and traditional Chinese medicine. I had four operations between 1959-1961 and was given different Chinese herbs. After a significant amount of money was spent by my great-grandfather from the US, nothing could be done to help my vision. People started to give suggestions to my father concerning my future, such as training me to be a musician or a fortune teller. However, my father strongly believed in getting a proper education, so he started to look for the right school for me.

Praise the Lord! My father was able to send me to a school for the blind run by a German Christian organization by September 1961. When I was first admitted into this school, I did not like it at all. Sunday was the worst day of the week for me because every Sunday we had morning service followed by Sunday school. After lunch, we had to take a nap, then attend the afternoon service. Monday to Friday we had to learn hymns, followed by evening service. Since I was so unhappy with this kind of life, I had not learned a single hymn or a bible story during the first whole year in this school. In fact, I was very bitter about why I should be born blind and why the treatments for my eyes were not successful. Sometimes I even argued with my schoolmates if there was a God. However, God was very gracious and long-suffering toward me.

Finding Hope in the Word

As I gradually began to enjoy my school life, I also began to have more and more interest in what the bible says. I came to realize that we have no control over our life after listening to the story of a rich man in Luke 12:16-20. Later, I also heard another scary story from Luke 16:19-31 about the rich man being tormented in hell for rejecting God. Those two stories kept coming to mind, until some time later I was blessed by a message I heard from the bible, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

The preacher continued to explain sin is not only limited to the murderer or thief but also to those who lie or bully other people. The preacher then went on to give another quote from the Bible, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The preacher asked us to remember John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Then I said to myself, ” I need to accept this gift because I do not want to go to hell.” After I was saved the bitter feeling toward my blindness started to leave me gradually. At the same time, I began to learn to trust God, especially to trust him with my studies.

Challenges and Triumphs

Since my performance in school was very good, I was the first student sent to study in a regular school. However, it was not an easy experience for me. Although the basic textbooks had been prepared for me in braille, quite often when the school year started many teachers would change the textbooks to a newer edition which put me at a disadvantage. Thankfully, God answered my prayers by providing volunteers to record the books onto tapes for me. Another hurdle I had to overcome was that not all the teachers were ready to accept me as a student and didn’t care if I did their assignments at all. So I had to take the initiative to explain to them how I could do their assignments and tests in a timely manner. I would like to give glory to my Almighty God who was always with me and gave me the strength and wisdom to overcome these hurdles. By the grace of God, I was able to finish my secondary school with good results. I was told that since I was successful in studying in an ordinary school, other blind students would be able to follow suit.

Upon graduation from my secondary education, I was successful in applying to study in
a college for training social workers. The challenges I had to face were similar to those I had in secondary school but to a greater extent. One thing I did not expect was people, students and lecturers alike, had problems with a blind student training to be a social worker. Some people in the college even tried to avoid me while I was studying there. In fact, my dear wife admitted she had been one of them. Fortunately, God is faithful as he had enabled me to overcome all these challenges.

After graduating from the social work training course, God blessed me with a job almost immediately. I did not have too many problems with my job as it was an organization for the blind and also my employer was very supportive. Of course, it was expected I would still have to face discriminative and negative attitudes both within and without the organization. After working for four years, I got a scholarship for a one-year course at the University of Wales in the UK. Although I was very happy for the opportunity, I was also very concerned about it as I had never been there before. So I prayed to God that as He had given me this opportunity, I was sure He could meet my needs. Indeed, God knew all my needs and had miraculously arranged for somebody to pick me up at Heathrow Airport and also arranged for some students from the University to drive two hundred miles to London to take me to Swansea. During the whole year of my study, God provided me with more than enough volunteers to read my books and offer other help.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

About one-and-a-half years after my return to Hong Kong, God blessed me to be
able to marry Ellen. It was not that common in those days for a blind person to marry a
sighted person. God by His grace gave us a wonderful son, Martin. After his birth, we learned that China was going to take Hong Kong. I was so worried about this forthcoming reality and started to pray fervently that the Lord would make it possible for us to migrate to a free country. I have learned from my childhood experience that we should never trust communist China. Praise the Lord, on September 7th, 1990 we arrived in Canada as permanent residents. We were then able to buy a small, old house with our savings from Hong Kong.

However, life was not that easy for us during the first nine years. I could only work
part-time as a tele-fundraiser. Our home was broken into three times. During those nine years, I was not discouraged by the many failures of my efforts in job searching because I strongly believed nothing is impossible with God. God had His right plan for me. Yes, I had to face many disappointments month after month, but by the grace of God I was able to persevere. At last, God gave me a full-time job at the Royal Bank Of Canada in 1999. Although I had only very limited computer skills, I was given this job which required me to use a computer. RBC then hired a person to train me to use the computer and the screen reading program. I believe this was definitely God’s perfect plan for me. I thank God for making it possible for me to work until I retired.

When I reflect on my life so far I strongly believe God has been with me all my life and has a wonderful plan for me. I want to thank God that I was born blind so that I could leave China and get saved when I was admitted into a school for the blind. It is true, as a blind person I had to learn how to overcome the different challenges of life, study, and work. At the same time, I also had to learn how to face being despised and discriminated against. I want to thank God that I was able to complete my education. I am especially grateful God gave me the chance to work both in Hong Kong and Canada which is not possible for many blind persons. I want to thank God that Ellen was courageous enough to marry me, a blind person. It is a big blessing from God to have Martin as my son. He is the one who understands most about my strengths and challenges out of my entire extended family. I am also thankful that my oldest grandson, Jacob started to show a positive interest to understand me when he was about seven years old. Praise the Lord! God has been always merciful, gracious, and faithful to me in the process of my growing up, education, work, and family life. I pray that in my remaining years, I will trust and obey Him even more.