San Diego Memorial Audio (MP3)
Part 1 – Opening Prayer through to the Word of Encouragement (~40 min)
Part 2 – Testimonies of Friends and Family (~32 min)
Part 3 (~45 min)
Audio of Pearl singing her favorite song with her sister a few months before she passed away: Lord you love me so immensely
Pearl was born on February 11, 1978 into a family of faith, the younger daughter of Henry and Wendy Chang…and beloved sibling to her older sister, Priscilla. Henry and Wendy raised their two daughters in Queens, New York, where they lived nearby some of Wendy’s relatives. They instilled into their daughters faith in the Lord Jesus and regularly brought them to the children’s meeting of the church in New York City.
They consistently cared for people beyond their immediate family and relatives. Pearl’s father Henry, for example, did not have a car himself, but if he got a ride home from the meeting hall for himself and his family, he would also try to get a ride for others who needed one – to the extent that on one occasion, a total of 13 people comprised of adults and children piled into one small car. On another occasion, when a relative with young children became very ill, Henry and his wife Wendy were among those who took the children under their wings and cared for them for an extended period of time. Henry served as an usher for the Lord’s table, loved telling everyone he met about the Lord, and devoted most of his free time to serving the Lord, whether it was spending time with the saints or preaching the gospel to restaurant workers, bus drivers, and anyone he met. He was also a loving father and talented artist, able to quickly and accurately draw cartoon characters as well as bake cookies…much to the delight of his children who cherished the time spent in his company.
At a young age however, Pearl’s father was diagnosed with colon cancer, to which he eventually lost his life. Although he could barely walk as the cancer reached the end stage, he fought to go to the meetings. The devastating loss of their father in his early forties left Pearl and Priscilla’s mother a young widow to raise them. His absence left a painful void, but despite the outward hardships, Wendy continued her husband’s pattern of bringing her children before the Lord. In many ways, Pearl’s parents’ characteristics of loving the Lord, putting Him first, and caring for others, also manifested in Pearl’s own life, and was even magnified in the months and days before she was taken.
Pearl was a happy, active, and lively child. She would wave and say hi to random strangers when held by her parents on the subway. Later on, Pearl could be shy with people but once she warmed up socially, she was a friendly, playful child. Although she disliked being in the spotlight, she could flash a huge smile and give a hearty laugh, and could readily warm the hearts of others. She matured into a generous, vivacious person who could make anyone feel at ease. Pearl was also artistically talented like her father. From a young age, her talent and creativity impressed art teachers and earned her awards at school competitions. Her ability led her to study at the Parsons School of Design in New York City and become a successful professional graphic designer, especially within the publishing field.
However, Pearl desired more of the spiritual Christian things. She wanted to attend the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA) to know the Lord in a deeper way, to study the truths in the Bible, and to learn to serve in a practical way. She went for one year, but the thought of her student loans weighed on her mind. So she prayed to the Lord that she would be able to pay them off and return to the FTTA.
After attending one year of the FTTA, Pearl returned to New York City to work. While working full time, Pearl loved being with others who loved the Lord and helping others to love the Lord. She would attend home meetings in both Queens and Manhattan to be together with the saints. She also gave her heart to care for others in a behind-the-scenes, sweet and gentle way. She would sometimes send care packages and presents unexpectedly, much to the surprise of the recipients. She could be firm with the young people she was serving, yet they were open to her and loved her. Pearl could reach “tough” people and warm them up, making them feel welcome. She also offered her artistic talent, such as designing beautiful wedding programs and CD hymn covers, gospel tracts, and other media for the saints.
The Lord was faithful — after Pearl worked for a few years, she not only paid off her school debts, but even contributed towards completing payment of her mother’s mortgage while living with and caring for her. After more prayers and fellowship, Pearl returned to the FTTA for her second year.
At the Full-Time Training in Anaheim, Pearl realized that what the Lord did in her first year at the FTTA was only the beginning of His work in her. She had to come back for her second year in order to allow the Lord the opportunity to finish what He had begun. She described the experience as that of a surgeon operating on a patient – during her first year in the FTTA, it was as if the Lord had opened her up and exposed her of who she was, as a surgeon opens a patient on the operation table. If she did not return for her second year, the operation would be incomplete. The surgeon needs to perform the reconstructive work and bind up the stitches so that the patient may then carry on. Pearl’s return to the FTTA after 5 years had passed since her first year indicated that she really was seeking to be open to the Lord and affording Him the way to operate and finish what He had begun in her.
She wrote this message to an FTTA trainee: “These are some points of help 1) Stay in the fellowship of the Body. Always have more than three companions that you will be accountable to. Especially two in your own locality wherever you are. 2) Read the Bible consistently 3) Morning Revival – Start your day depending on Him 4) Redeem the time 5) Submit yourself to the Lord’s sovereign arrangement for you at that time. Don’t run before Him. 6) Fill your hands. Consecrate yourself to serve in whatever capacity you can. Working full-time I was still able to take care of the young people. Actually, they shepherded me, they encouraged me, they kept me in the meetings.”
As she entered into marriageable age, she, like other single sisters, thought about finding the proper husband. But Pearl did not want to just be married. She wanted to marry a husband prepared by the Lord, and prayed specifically for that. The Lord honored this desire. She did not know it at the time, but one of the fellow FTTA trainees was a brother and teammate named Michael Lee, who would, in a couple of years, become her husband. Michael graduated from the FTTA a term before Pearl, and had fellowship concerning Pearl while she was still finishing her last term in the training. Upon graduating, she was notified of his interest, and she was open to the Lord to agree to meet Michael before she returned to New York City in a couple of days. They began a long distance courtship over the next year, as Michael resided in San Diego. At the same time, Pearl immediately re-entered into the church life in New York City, serving and shepherding others. Gradually through courtship, she fell in love with Michael and they were engaged on May 3, 2009.
Michael and Pearl were married on October 17, 2009 in New York City, in the presence of hundreds of relatives, friends and saints. After the wedding, Michael brought Pearl to live with him in San Diego. In her marriage, Pearl desired to have an open home. In their small one bedroom apartment, she could fill it with close to 20 people for a home meeting. As she did in New York, Pearl continued caring for others in San Diego. She would cherish the saints with baking delicious little desserts and treats for them, bringing her goodies to sisters’ tea times and shepherding times, providing rides to the meetings, and being in Bible studies and prayer meetings with the saints. She also cared particularly for certain single working sisters and new ones. Pearl always loved being with the saints in San Diego. Often times, she had the sisters over to bake together, have a simple afternoon tea, or simply spend time together. Pearl and Michael joined the saints from the home meeting group on a gospel trip to Arizona in February 2012, where they preached the gospel, blended with the local saints, enjoyed the sweet fellowship time during the long car ride, and enjoyed the beautiful views together at Grand Canyon National Park.
In October 2012, Pearl was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that had already spread throughout her lymphatic system: chest, abdomen, pelvis and neck. At first, doctors were unable to determine the type of cancer nor its source; months later it was labeled as a rare neuroendocrine cancer. The diagnosis was humanly very difficult to take as Pearl was only 34 at the time, but she was steadfast in her spirit, telling relatives that “whatever it is, the Lord knows. And we can only trust in Him. Praise the Lord!” Soon after, Pearl began chemotherapy.
The cancer was aggressive, spreading rapidly over the course of a few months and depleting her physical body and stripping Pearl of her strength. In addition to Pearl’s family, the saints in San Diego and elsewhere poured out practical help, prayers and love. Pearl and her husband were sustained and supplied by the Lord through the practical care of so many around them. Though the cancer was aggressive, Pearl still had the use of her voice and a clear mind, and she testified, “While you have your lungs, it’s good to use them to praise the Lord.” She used her voice to praise the One who dwelled in her spirit and to sing hymns. Though it seemed that Pearl was the one who needed encouragement, often it was she who ended up encouraging others. By December 2012, it became apparent that the cancer was not only in her body, but had also spread to her brain in at least eight spots. Pearl needed radiation treatment as well.
From January 2013 all the way to June 2013, she continued diligently to undergo intensive treatments and hospitalizations that exhausted her body. She continued to take care of those who visited her, even in her extremely weakened condition, and was highly appreciative of the care that she and Michael received. She would light up when she heard about people she knew. She testified that through these sufferings, she no longer had any love for material things. Rather, she loved to be with family, relatives and the saints. As late as the end of June 2013, she planned determinedly for her husband, her mother, her sister, and herself a July family getaway that she thought would give her family memories of laughter and joy rather than of her sickness. Even during this time of intense suffering, Pearl continued to care more for the well-being of others. When her relative from the East Coast visited with a baby days before Pearl’s passing, Pearl wanted to not only arrange suitable hospitality, but insisted on going with Michael to the host home as well to ensure that the relative got settled in, even though Pearl could barely walk even with support. Despite the physical decline, however, the Lord preserved her mind and her strong spirit, even until the week before her passing.
Only when her mother and sister arrived in San Diego on July 1 did they discover that Pearl was in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit of New Palomar Medical Center with Michael by her side. Her condition had deteriorated rapidly while they were travelling. In intense pain that had to be suppressed by around-the-clock medication, Pearl was no longer able to speak, but her face showed strong emotional responses to hymns being sung to her and to the words of loved ones who gathered at her bedside at the hospital. Among these loved ones were saints, family, and friends, all of whom she loved dearly.
On July 8, 2013 at the age of 35, in the wee hours of the morning with her husband, her mother, her sister, and her two best friends from high school by her bedside, Pearl looked more at peace than she had looked in months, breathed her last breath, and went to be with the Lord Jesus whom she loved.