“Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your Master.” (Matt 25:23)
It is never easy to come to terms with the loss of a very dear friend, especially since we have been co-labourers in the mission field in Nepal for the last 11 years. Dr Jimmy Tang, a dentist, was called home to be with his Master and Lord on 29 April 2019.
When I heard the news of his sudden demise, I was filled with disbelief. It cannot be, I thought to myself repeatedly; how could this have happened?
Jimmy and a group of doctor friends—affectionately known as the 3-2-1—from Barker Road Methodist Church had been serving in missions in Nepal, providing dental and medical services to the poor and marginalised in far-flung villages that are often difficult to access. I had on many occasions accompanied the medical teams during their trips. My relationship with Jimmy had grown from that of being work colleagues to that of being friends and brothers-in-Christ, which made his death feel all the more painful.
As Jimmy ministered to the poor and needy with his God-given skills, I witnessed a very compassionate, caring and committed man. Humble and soft-spoken, he was very approachable to one and all. He was an excellent example a light that shines forth in the darkness, and offered words of encouragement to me and many others, always putting others’ needs before his own.
On occasions when we bunked together in the mission field, he would share with me his calling to missions, and the challenges and joys of his work. He loved his wife Regina and their three children—Tricia, Tracey and Trevis—always missing them whenever he was away on missions.
On one of our field trips to a village deep inland where the residents had little or no access to medical care, more than 400 men, women and children came to receive treatment over the two days we were there. Jimmy started his dental clinic early, working through lunch and finishing each day at dusk. He had a slipped disc, but this did not deter him from providing dental care with great patience and a warm smile.
My wife Jacqueline and our three boys have all been blessed by his love and generosity. During the occasions he spent time with my family, we enjoyed his laughter as he shared his love for food, photography and cars. When I informed them about Jimmy’s passing, they cried bitterly.
JJ, my eldest son, says it most aptly: “Dear Uncle Jimmy, thank you for giving your time, energy and attention to impact so many people’s lives purely out of love and compassion. Thank you for being a great example of a person who radiates God’s love and Jesus’ values to the people around you. Thank you for showing us numerous ways through which we can help others and how we should live our lives well. We love you and will miss you!”
Gopal Sebastian is the MMS Country Director in Nepal. He worships at Sengkang Methodist Church.
Photos courtesy of The Methodist Missions Society