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A Slow Trek to My Roots in Zi-Li Village

The life story of my great-grandfather has touched my life ever since I was a child: An illiterate, orphaned, beggar-boy without a name, coming to Christian faith in America! A houseboy, gaining fluency in both English and Cantonese and advancing to become a medical doctor in China! It’s an amazing story! Amazing, even more, because it happened in the 1850s! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it well:

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Great-grandfather’s Life: In the beginning…

Dr. TO To-Ming1 , my great-grandfather, was born in the village of Zi-Li, located in Southern China, about 50 miles from Canton. His father died when he was about three years old. His mother remarried, moved to another village, and left To-Ming in the care of his grandparents. After both grandparents died, To-Ming was left to fend for himself. Initially, his relatives gave him some of their leftover food. But, in time, none of his relatives would share their food with him. In order to survive, he had to walk through the village and beg for food.


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