Monday, October 25, 2010

dǎo gào

that's mandarin for "to pray."

i was examining a patient last nite for surgery today. she has terminal cancer but looked surprisingly cheerful. while explaining what she would undergo, i noticed she has a bible by her bedside. i asked her if she was a believer, to which she replied she was. then unwittingly, i asked if i could say a prayer for her before the operation, to which she happily consented.

that's when i realised she is mandarin-educated & i've never gone beyond a smattering of mandarin in my everyday life. i decided to call up the mandarin-church pastor to ask for some pointers & interpretation. as i recited the prayer with him, he mentioned that i was not all that ready but i told him i just needed to do it.

so, i've never dǎo gào till today. & it wasn't fluent, some words had the wrong intonation but it was obvious she was pleased that i managed to say a few words of encouragement for her. that's the least i could do for someone who seemed to face her future with the confidence of God.

after surgery, my parting words to her was zǎo rì  kāng fù.*

*speedy recovery


ilene said...

awww....that's very nice of you DOC. I wish there are more doctors like you around. A small gesture like a simple prayer makes a lot of difference to a patient.

fishtail said...

She must have been very very encouraged, and she would know straightaway that she could put her trust completely in the hands of the God-fearing doctor who said a prayer with her. Not just that, she would surely make it a point to tell her family members of her experience with the doctor who said a prayer with her.

jemima said...


In most languages of the world where Christianity has taken root the word "Amen" has been taken over untranslated. Listen to a person pray in Chinese or Japanese or German or French or Arabic, and very likely there is at least one word we will understand: "Amen" - pronounced differently perhaps, but discernible.

God will bless with you & your family always, Ee-sen. :)

JoMel said...

You are one gem of a doctor! That's all I can say. And oh yes, yuan(4) shang(4) di(4) bao(3) you(4) ni(3). :)

Anonymous said...

I think that's something beautiful you've done to her. So thank you.

missyc said...

So nice & thotful of you to pray for her, if only more docs are like you, patients feel less stressed pre op.

I've learnt that its better to try to be cheerful & pleasant which helps alleviate the pain of what one has to go thru rather than feel sorry/depressed. I still remember an hour b4 2nd op, I made a joke about 1st surgery & the surgeon said "huh you can still laugh?" I replied Laughter is the best medicine .. after surgery only cry lah then blame its the Pain :(

doc said...



there are doctors like that around, it's just that you've not met them (yet).

i learned here that even a short prayer can bring much comfort.

doc said...


i'm also encouraged that she's comforted in that God is with her through this difficult time.

doc said...



you're right. AMEN remains untranslated through the centuries & across religions, even in arabic, & so be it!

(pun intended)

doc said...



what a coincidence - almost the same words i prayed for her, except that i used bǎo shǒu.

you know, my english-educated colleague, Dr L, is giving a message in mandarin this sunday, & i'm aiming to emulate that some day.

doc said...


thank you.

all in a day's work for God.

doc said...


actually i've been praying specifically for my patients if i know they are christians; it's just that i haven't done it in mandarin till now.

my colleague Dr L is also a praying physician & i know there are many others; it's just that you haven't met them.

yes, a cheerful spirit is certainly good medicine.

iml said...

I'm so touched at your gesture. In whatever language, a doctor's kind prayer will definately calm the mind.

Mei Teng said...

Praying in Cantonese is a challenge for me. For me, it's forget about praying in Mandarin..haha.

Unicorn Girl said...

as long as she gets the message and a caring doctor like you - I think the communication part is just a ' twinkie ' issue .

JoMel said...

The doctors that I came in contact with during those very dark days five years ago, made my days even darker. They lacked communication skills, lacked empathy, and lacked humanity. I still think of doctors that way.. till I "know" you here. :)

doc said...


all praise to God!

doc said...

Mei Teng,

take up the challenge & do good.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Gal 6:10)

doc said...


actually, communication is of utmost importance in the service industry, so i'm glad she overlooked my shortcoming.

doc said...


always some black sheep in every profession & i myself was a bit like that in my younger days.

maturity & experience & fear of God, however, can change a person's heart & attitude.

Hello Kitty said...

Hi doc, I'd be so touched if I were her. But how should our response be if she were a non-believer? I mean, if a person is facing eternity without knowing Christ, shd we not take the opportunity to pray for that person too. If I were her, I'd like to know the God Almighty whom the good doctor worships.

doc said...

Hello Kitty,

that's a pertinent point. as christians, we should make it our duty to tell people about God, irrespective whether they eventually believe or not. in this respect, i admit i have fallen short of that responsibility.

to foster a closer doctor-patient relationship, i would pray with a patient if i knew that person believes in the same God as i do. this i have been doing for some time & it helps BOTH the patient and i to know that we are not alone as we go through the surgery.

but yes, the next step would be to offer a prayer openly for someone who is not a christian & who will allow me to do so for him/her.

would you pray that i will meet such a person in due time?

Bengbeng said...

Doc, i feel touched by yr love for this patient

doc said...


all praise to the Lord!

Yvonne Foong said...

Hehe. I believe the best prayers are the simple prayers. No need to use big big words like, "Oh my Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Savior, the Almighty, the governor of my life!". Man... I believe God knows our hearts and He does not need us to profess our faith in words. He knows our faith. Our faith in the heart doesn't lie.

Let me tell you something funny. Hehe. After I had regained consciousness in the ICU last August, I was conscious enough to talk with the nurses and doctors. Then one day, a few people visited the patient next to me. One of thgem saw me waking up, opening my eyes, so she came near to say hello. She somehow knew I was deaf. I think she might have been visiting to pray for individual patients. She came near, picked up the whiteboard and wrote, "Greet You!" instead of "Hello!". The rest of her sentences didn't make much sense. She is Korean. It's like using plain nouns, verns and adjectives to express what she wanted to say. So I singled out the keywords very quickly and put them together in my mind to comprehend. I read, "God", "Healing", "Love". So I exclaimed "Amen!" with as much alertness as I could. She was very happy and nodded. "Amen! Amen!".

See? :P