Dr. Daniel L. Wong

Tyndale prof


June 2017

In Praise of a Classic Dad

I vividly remember my father and mother taking my older brother and I to U.S. National Parks. We went to Yellowstone when I was about 7. My brother and I were following around bears in the campground. We were just back in Yellowtone this June. Brings back a flood of memories. The picture above was taken on Oct. 31, 2007 in California, our home state. How many of you have United States serving World War II veterans in your family? My father served as in American-born Chinese unit. More about that here

I wrote this article in 1996 as a tribute to my father for the Family News of the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church where I was serving as English Ministry pastor.  As he passed away on June 10 ’11, it is good to reflect on this. His funeral service was on the Sat. (June 19) of Father’s Day weekend.


“Old fashion.” “Behind the times” “Something out of the pest.”  These are ways some people might describe my dad.  I prefer the term “classic”.  By this I mean that there are qualities to be appreciated in the old way of doing things.  Today we crave for the new, the novel, the better way.  Yet, there are lessons we can learn from time-proven ways of doing things.

There is consistency in having the same job for over 40 years.  By “same,” I mean that he did basically the same “routine” job from the day he began work until the time he retired.  He was a loftsman at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California.  I still can’t quite figure out what he did.  The best that I can figure out is that he made small scale prototypes of airplane parts from drawings.  He never aspired to be a supervisor.  “Too much pressure,” he would say.  “He became a foreman and look what happened to him,” was another of his famous sayings.  He never switched locations.  After serving in the Second World War, it was natural to get a job with the armed services.  He would leave the house at the same 6:30 a.m. time in the morning and return down the big hill at the same 4 p.m. time in the afternoon.  You could set your clock by his opening and closing of the front door.

Dad lived and still lives with mom at the same house in Oakland for over 40 years.  They lived there before I was born.  The only reason that I was born in San Francisco was because they knew the doctor there.  I forget the statistics how often people move residences.  From that house I went to Chicago to study at a Moody Bible Institute so I stayed in the dorm.  I spent a summer in Taiwan for summer missions after I finished my B.A. in Foreign Missions.  Then I was off to Dallas Seminary for study first residing in the dorm and then in a seminary apartment after I got married following the first year and a half.  Flora and I moved to our first house a few years later.  Then I was off to ministry in Toronto, first staying in an apartment, a rented house, our own house and then our current house.  That places me at 9 moves in over 20 years.  Other people have moved more or less times.  Yet my dad has zero moves in that time.

Dad was there in that house when the freeway was built and severed the street in two.  Our street name was change from “Avenue” to “Place”.  Dad was there when every neighbor in the 6 other houses in the “Place” changed owners, often more than once.  It wasn’t that my parents didn’t think about moving over the years.  My brother, Mike, the realtor, has often talked to them about the benefits of moving.  Dad would say, “It’s too much trouble to move.  We have too much junk!”  Well, dad is the consistency amidst inconsistency.  He is the stability amidst instability.

Dad never had a “to do” list.  Let me take that back.  He did get “to do” lists from mom.  They were the grocery lists.  Yet, Dad never seemed to get it just right.  He might bring back the right item but the wrong brand.  The other brand was the sale item.  The quantity was wrong.  The item didn’t match mom’s famous coupon that was supposed to go with the item.  We all had a good laugh when Dad returned from the store.

Dad never said, “I’m too busy.”  He always seemed to have time to play sports with his two boys.  When I went through stages of interest, he took me to the San Francisco Giants game, the San Francisco Warriors game, the World Federation of Wrestling match, and quite a few Oakland Raiders games.  It seemed like my wish was his command.  Dad wasn’t busy about his own hobbies but with ours like raising every kind of pet, including a total of three dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, turtles, tropical fish, and goldfish.  We assembled plastic models.  Or should I say, we assembled my models.  I don’t recall that he had any hobby except if it was family.

Dad was always there when he was needed.  He was at all the school events.  He “helped” with the school projects.  He took our family to church.  As chauffeur, he dropped me off and picked me up from places.  He was patient enough to teach me how to drive.

When I think about the responsibilities of fathering, I often think about Dad.  Our children are moving up into the teen years and I think of what type of father I am to them.  You hear the “horror” stories the absentee dad or the one who traded presents for time.  My dad seemed to have a high priority on his family.

I haven’t followed in my father’s steps to do things so traditionally.  Some might take issue with that.  I hope that I have picked up my father’s emphasis on family.  Such an investment can have long-term returns from generation to generation


Happy APPA’s Day!

Appa (father in Korean) or Mr. Kim is the main character in Kim’s Convenience. It is his store and his family at the centre of the drama. Many of us draw connection with him directly. We see ourselves in his shoes as men and fathers. Other see him as the father or grandfather in our families or the proprietor in the local family store.

On Father’s Day, ;et’s looks at the father figure of Appa in Kim’s Convenience.

  1.  Appa is a Strong Father Figure

Like many families, Appa is a strong father figure. This is the traditional role in many homes of  the older style. No equal opportunity here! The father leads. In many Asian homes, the father rules the home by providing decisions and direction. From the Confucian ethic – there is father over mother, ruler over people, parents over child, etc.

Appa runs the store and runs his family (or tries to). Many families appreciate a strong father figure. With this, there is stability.

How is your home? Is the father the main mover? Or does he appear to lead and the mother actually lead. You have heard – the father is the head but the mother is the neck that turns the head. Or is there a good discussion and mutual decisions make? Just a note – as this is what you see modelled in the home, it is the expectation you bring into your marriage and family.

While you may complain, appreciate your strong father on Father’s Day.

  1. Appa is the Provider of the Family

With running Kim’s Convenience, Appa provides for his family. He works tirelessly to meet the needs for the family. Note the litany of items he provides for Janet including the camera and music lessons.

I always appreciate the immigrant father. I sure wouldn’t move to another country with a different language and culture. And that, for the sake of my children or future children. So many immigrant families have sacrificed a lot for their children. Of course, they remind you of that often. Hmm, I did immigrate from the U.S. to Canada. At least the main language was English (with a few Eh’s) and I did study 2 years of French growing up in California).

We should be thankful for fathers (and mothers) who provide for the family. They do indeed work hard so that we have the opportunities and things we have.

On this Father’s Day we should show appreciation (not just say it).

  1. Appa means well but doesn’t come across well

Appa is awkward. He puts his foot in his mouth often. He is apt to embarrass Janet and other members of the family. How many of us have bemoaned that our parents never told us that they love us? How many of our parents understand us?

If we give them the benefit of the doubt, we can realize that they mean well and want the best for us. They love us but won’t say it. They show it, often in subtle and indirect ways.

It is interesting that Korean’s don’t have Father’s Day and Mother’s Day but Parent’s Day. My Korean friend give me this insight. Most Koreans in North American and other Western places have adopted this family recognition.

Still looking for a Father’s Day gift? I came across and interesting post about a Korean Father’s Day gift

The question and answer provided excellent insight: “The Korean [author of askakorean] is convinced that Korean men — particularly in late 50s or above — are the hardest people in the world to buy gifts for. In fact, it is somewhat sad when you consider why. Older Korean men, generally speaking, have worked in poverty all their lives. They did not have the money to develop a finer taste on anything, nor did they have the time to cultivate a meaningful hobby. Korea’s traditional gift-giving culture be damned — the very idea of gift-giving can be antithetical to these men, particularly when the gift is being given to them.”

The gist of the article is to ask the mother what the father needs, not wants 😉  .


The article concludes: “But there is something that Korean fathers do want — their children’s love and respect. No matter what you end up buying, do not let the material thing to be the substitute for your expression of love and respect. Make sure the gift is accompanied by a heartfelt card that you wrote. Korean fathers may not show their reaction outwardly, but they will surely smile in the inside.”

My Korean-American friend in the U.S. who is a Kim’s Convenience fan gives this reflection: “My Dad is Appa: stubborn and direct with his family, but full of love that eventually makes it way to the surface for them to see. I am Appa too, for exactly the same reason.” @eybyon

Appa of Kim’s Convenience has shared quite a bit about his Appa and his parenting. I’m sure we see much of this reflected in Season 1 of Kim’s Convenience. We look forward to more in Season 2 Am I on target, Paul @bitterasiandude ?

Happy Father’s Day to all!!! #okseeyou

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