The Story of Albert & You-Jin, and Eliana Hu
Written by Pastor Andy Hy
I had the opportunity to interview Albert and You-Jin about their story of a stillbirth. The baby - Eliana Grace Hu - was healthy throughout the pregnancy. You-Jin had nothing to worry about; Eliana was to be a normal and healthy pregnancy. At full term, on Good Friday, April 2014, You-Jin experienced out of the ordinary cramps. At first, You-Jin thought nothing of it other than it could be time for delivery. Baby Eliana was full term, ready to come into the world and finally meet her loving parents. Albert and You-Jin rushed to the local hospital. And it was at the hospital that they received the news that no parent ever wants to hear: Eliana had no heartbeat. On Good Friday, Christians all around the world reflect and remember the love of Jesus Christ through His sacrificial death on the cross at Calvary. For Albert and You-Jin, they will remember Good Friday also as the day the Lord took Eliana to be with Him. After an autopsy, no scientific explanation for Eliana’s death was given. To this day, Albert and You-Jin do not know why this happened. What we know is that Eliana did not choke on her umbilical cord. And there were not any identifiable illnesses that would have explained the cause. It remains a mystery.
Dark days & Hard questions
The onset of deep despair, doubt and grief consumes your life. You cry. You get angry. You question God’s love and goodness. You begin to have doubts about your faith in Jesus. You might go into depression. You start to avoid people intentionally. You blame yourself that maybe God is punishing you for your past sins. You crawl into a deep and dark place completely void from others. Not everyone will experience all of these behaviors and emotions when dealing with grief. But certainly Albert and You-Jin experienced some, if not all, of these.
Just one year before Eliana’s stillbirth, Albert and You-Jin decided to join a Small Group at Willingdon Church. You-Jin had been attending Willingdon for 10 years and Albert had just started attending but had never previously been a part of any small group. Being in a church this size, getting connected in a small group was a must for them in order to build a sense of community, accountability and friendship. They signed up for a small group with Derek and Elsie and Choiping in Burnaby. In this group, Albert and You-Jin were surrounded by a loving community. With consistency and faithfulness in this small group, Albert and You-Jin started to grow deeper in their faith and their knowledge of God. They found a genuine sense of community in this small group. Just when everything was going so well for Albert and You-Jin, the experience of Eliana’s stillbirth would derail their steady spiritual growth.
In the truest form of compassionate love, three ladies from the small group rushed to respond: Choiping, a co-leader, Sally, a regular in the small group and an attending nurse at the time of Eliana’s stillbirth, and Elsie. They listened to a broken mother who was searching desperately for answers. These beautiful ladies went above and beyond by making themselves vulnerable in their conversations with You-Jin. They shared their own experiences of deep heartbreak of loss and struggle. You-Jin said that vulnerable sharing done right made them approachable. And when the time was right, they pointed this broken mother to the Bible for answers. It was there, in the Bible, that You-Jin and Albert found great comfort. Particularly, they were drawn to the Biblical story of Job.
Surrounded by a loving community
For Albert & You-Jin, no matter what answer people gave and however many stories people shared, it would not completely satisfy them. Stories would not completely heal You-Jin’s shattered heart. Your good intentions would be appreciated but words alone did not bring healing. Therefore should one not encourage? Don’t stop. Although your encouragement may not be satisfactory immediately, in time it may become realized with the help of the Holy Spirit. Some forms of “encouragement” however will only do more damage, and they should never come out of anyone’s mouth. Be warned, bad encouragement is not helpful. For example, someone said to You-Jin, “You’re young. You can have another baby.” Why would anyone say that? Perhaps it was a desperate attempt to encourage a hurting person.
With the help of pastors, more loving and Godly wisdom was shared. Praise God for pastors like Amy and Walter in the Care and Prayer ministry. Albert and You-Jin were surrounded by a great community consisting of their small group, their family, and Pastors to walk alongside them. And when there were no words, they turned to wise teachings from authors in the form of books. This was helpful for Albert and You-Jin to process some of their more difficult questions. As God’s healing started to take place in Albert and You-Jin’s life, all the advice and support given would begin to fill in the cracks of deep hurt.
What is the purpose of Eliana?
A question I asked both Albert and You-Jin was, “what do you think was the purpose of Eliana?” The answer to that question will remain a mystery until the day they meet again in heaven. Having gone through this experience a year ago, Albert and You-Jin now see themselves as able to show compassion for and walk alongside others. Another realization was their need to come closer to God through faith in Jesus Christ and their need to trust Him more. Having complete and total trust in a sovereign God even though they struggle with accepting the Biblical truth that God is good and God does have a perfect plan. As I observed and listened to Albert and You-Jin, I see that God’s work of healing had begun in their life. And with healing comes a renewed sense of appreciation for God’s sovereignty. For me, as an outsider, looking into Albert and You-Jin’s story, I have to believe that Eliana is celebrating in heaven as she sees Albert and You-Jin grow deeper in their faith, in their hope and in their love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
And Now What?
Located in Queens Park, there is a bench with a metal plaque with the name Eliana Grace Hu.
Albert and You-Jin’s small group, after attending Willingdon Church’s Christmas production last year, all went together to this bench to celebrate the blessing of Eliana. Albert and You-Jin continue to heal with the help of their loving small group. And it’s their desire to someday lead their own small group.
Recently, in the most humble way, Albert and You-Jin celebrated another blessing in their life: a little baby girl named Evelyn. And like with Eliana, God will use Evelyn’s beautiful life to be a blessing to Albert and You-Jin and to many others.