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Love at the Garden Tomb

By R F. Whong


Lily Young is content to leave love to others more qualified. Betrayed and kicked out of her family home in Taiwan at sixteen, she can’t afford to be hurt again.

Josh Ying has his own share of life’s adversities. Growing up in Hong Kong with a sick older brother, he is the invisible child until he makes a bold demand that leads to a dire consequence.

Constant interactions at Ohio State University bring two desolate souls together. Yet personal hardship and circumstances beyond their control, plus unresolved guilt and resentment, scatter them in different directions.

Years later, they run into each other again at the Garden Tomb in Israel. Under the spell of the Jerusalem Syndrome (a set of mental phenomena that involves religions, psychosis-like experiences), will they jeopardize their hearts again?

Book Takeaway:

, the power of the Holy Spirit transforms and reunites two lonely hearts. At last, Josh and Lily are in harmony in all three aspects: body, mind and soul.

Why the author wrote this book:

One morning earlier this year, a strong urge came to me during my devotion (from the Holy Spirit I presume) that I should submit the Chinese version of my book to the art-and-literature section of a well-known secular newspaper World Journal (see this link:

I paused in the middle of my prayer and blurted out, “Lord, are you kidding me? No way they will accept a book with a Christian theme.”

World Journal solicits submissions from Chinese authors. Once they accept your work, they’ll pay you. If it’s a long piece, they break it into segments and run them in series. It’s competitive since they pay good money.

I sent in my manuscript (~100,000 words in Chinese). A few days later, the editor contacted me. They liked it, but it was too long for them. They asked me to shrink it down to ~10,000 words. I tried, but the best I could do was to reduce it to ~20,000 words. I sent them the abbreviated version, thinking that they wouldn’t accept it. They came back and told me they would publish it in series from 3/26/2022 to 4/21/2022.

Many friends read the novella in the World Journal and asked me, “Did you write your own story? I saw similarities between you and Lily.”

I promised them to provide a backdrop for why I wrote this book.

While in high school, my dad passed away suddenly. Betrayed and kicked out of our family home in Taiwan, I became an adult overnight. My heart was full of resentment, and I couldn’t connect with others. In college, through the guidance of a Christian professor, I accepted Christ as my Savior.

At Ohio State University, I met Ken. We were compatible emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Yet my mother and his parents objected to our courtship because they spoke different dialects and couldn’t communicate with one another.

Although Ken majored in civil engineering, he believed God called him to serve as a pastor in Hong Kong. He graduated and returned to Hong Kong, preparing to study in a seminary. Finally, I graduated with my Ph.D. in biochemistry. Still, our families hadn’t given us their approval.

Ken urged me to go to Hong Kong. I agreed. Since I held a Taiwanese passport, I needed to obtain a visa first. Because the reason for my visit was not tourism but to get married, the British embassy office informed me it would take at least three months before they could reach a decision.

My friends didn’t like my decision to go to Hong Kong. “You don't speak a word of Cantonese. How can you survive there? It’s foolish to give up your biochemistry career in the US.”

Then, my Ph.D. advisor called me. “A professor at Northwestern University read your four papers. I told him you entered our Ph.D. program as a college graduate and received your doctorate in three years and nine months. He is impressed and wants you as a postdoctoral trainee in his lab.”

My resolve wavered. With an F-1 student visa, after graduation, I could only stay in the US legally without a job for a few months. I couldn’t keep waiting. Lord, should I accept the job?

The Lord gave me Psalm 111:2 as His promise to us. “Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.” At last, I said a silent prayer. “Lord, I’ll wait until I get an answer from the British embassy. If they give me the visa, I’ll go.”

Before the end of three months, I secured my visa. Upon my arrival, Ken took me to an elderly lady’s house. Auntie Audrey watched Ken grow up in their church. She welcomed me to stay at her house. The next morning, a few more women came to see me. They had all known Ken since he was a boy.

Through them, God fulfilled His promise to us. Three weeks later, Ken told me his mom had picked a day for our wedding. He said those aunties talked to his parents and persuaded them we were well suited for each other.

Throughout our marriage, I often wonder. If God hadn’t intervened, what would have happened? “Someday, I’m going to write a book in which the heroine didn’t get her visa to Hong Kong.”

That was how Love at the Garden Tomb came into being.


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