“Crucial Health Need Gives Missionaries Opportunity,” Ensign, Dec. 1978, 46–47
In Hong Kong cancer is the number one cause of death. Also, in Hong Kong young persons are interested in learning about the Church—as indicated by the high baptism rate.
So the project devised by a group of Welfare Services missionaries in Hong Kong was natural—to teach young people about cancer. The obstacle they faced was formidable: “How can we get school administrators to invite us, a church, to bring our message into their schools, especially when so many of them are private schools supported by religious groups?” Theresa Baccus of Los Angeles, California, the missionary supervising the project, voiced the question. The missionaries found answers.
They wrote to the Hong Kong Government Education Department to offer the proposed program. They then worked up a script and selected pictures for a slide presentation. They had received no answer from the government, and inquiry showed that their letter had been lost in the mail. A second letter was sent. The director then discussed their proposal and responded favorably. He even offered to produce a circular and mail it to the 400 colleges in Hong Kong. The circular gave details of the program and endorsed it strongly. All that the schools needed to do was call the mission home to schedule an appointment.
And call they did. “We showed our program in large, beautiful auditoriums with hundreds of students, and in small biology lab rooms with twenty or thirty students,” says Sister Baccus. “All the students eagerly watched and asked searching questions.”
After seeing the slide presentation, the Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society which had already provided much current cancer research information offered to pay all production and travel costs accrued through taking the program to the colleges.
After three months, some 15,000 students had learned the dangers of cigarette smoking and alcohol and hot drink consumption, and the relationship between certain other foods and cancer. They had also been introduced to the name of the Church.
The missionaries say they have planted seeds—“the seed of curiosity to know more about a church that is not only concerned about a man’s spiritual soul, but also his temporal well-being.”