Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 44 - December 2011 / January 2012 > The Hon Family Story (by Dulcie Hon and Jill Wong)

The Hon Family Story

by Dulcie Hon and Jill Wong (nee Hon)

The Hon Family Story - God's hand in the life of a family

Cecilia Hon was busy; Nappies, it seemed, dominated her life, but then there was cooking, washing and ironing as well. As the mother of sever-al small children she needed assistance. Washing machines, drip-dry clothes, dishwashers and detergents hadn't been invented, so she employed domestic help to assist with the house-work.

Susannah Lockyer, one of the women engaged from time to time to assist the Hon household, took over the task of washing the nappies. Cecilia provided washing soap for her, but occasionally Susannah would say, "Mrs Hon, you don't need to give me any soap today. I still have some left."

Cecilia was amazed, for this never happened with the others. The other women always took the soap offered whether they needed it or not. Susanah's honesty impressed her.

And Cecilia knew that even though Susannah's husband was crippled, she never complained, but seemed content and at peace. She willingly performed every task. At times she hummed or sang hymns as she worked.

Soon they became friends and, despite the never-ending household chores, they always found time to sit and talk. Occasionally Susannah would speak of Jesus. Cecilia was slightly interested.

Then the Hon family fell into financial difficulty and the bank gave Harry Hon time to sell the family home to meet the debts.

The bank's deadline approached, but the house wasn't sold. Susannah, noticing that Cecilia and her husband, Harry, were worried, inquired, "Mrs Hon, are you worried about something?"

"If we don't sell our house and furniture within two weeks we'll be penniless," responded the distraught Cecilia.

"Do you believe in prayer, Mrs Hon?" Susannah asked.

Cecilia believed in prayer, but it had never been a regular part of her life. Her parents hadn't been Christians, but Cecilia felt her children should have some religion, so sent them to Sunday school. The children had been christened, but that was the extent of her religion.

Susannah read the Bible to her and taught her to pray. Each day they prayed for the sale of the house and furniture. The deadline approached without any sign that the house would sell. But, on the last day possible, the house sold.

By this time Cecilia was studying the Bible for herself. She and the children began to attend Sabbath school in a small, rented hall. The hall was shabby and smelt of tobacco and beer from Friday-night dances, but the children enjoyed it.

When the Hon family left Glen Innes, New South Wales, Susannah's daughter, Queenie, took the family to Stanmore church. At Stanmore, Cecilia studied the Bible in preparation for baptism. She was baptised just before the family left to establish a business in Tenterfield.

At Tenterfield, Cecilia`found she was the only Seventh-day Adventist. Each Sabbath she conducted Sabbath school for the younger members of the family while the older children helped Harry in the shop. He felt he couldn't close on Saturday because it was his busiest day.

The Hon family were soon joined at worship by the Twartz and Schulz family. Church was initially conducted in the Hon lounge room, but as membership increased, a church was built, which opened in 1948.

Their eldest son, Eric, studied for the ministry at Avondale College. After graduating, Eric instituted family wor-ship, and Cecilia soon made it a daily priority. The Hon family quickly established itself as a productive mission outpost, and Cecilia took every opportunity to speak to her relatives, friends and acquaintances of Jesus and the truths she had found in the Bible.

Many people joined the Adventist Church as a result of the witness of Cecilia Hon. Ella Chung, a visitor in the Hon home, although at first disinterested, joined the Adventist Church with several members of her family. Ella was instrumental in collecting substantial funds from non-Adventist business contacts for many church projects in Hong Kong - including the Tsuen Wan Hospital and nurses quarters.

The Aps, a Chinese family visiting relatives in Tenterfield, sent their restless children to a Vacation Bible School and Sabbath school. The children told their parents what they'd learnt. Eventually Dick Ap and his family returned to Sydney where they had Bible studies and, together with Maisie (one of Cecilia's daughters), Denis Fook and the Chung family, became foundation members of the Chinese church at Strathfield.

Many lives were touched through the ministry of Cecilia Hon. As a result of her persistence, people in Australia, Hong Kong and the United States have joined the Adventist Church.

The faithful testimony of Susannah Lockyer in touching one life, in turn touched many around the globe.

Cecilia's husband, Harry, never opposed her in any of the stages she took towards Adventism. Cecilia had left school at 13 years of age but she was a diligent Bible student. She soon embraced the conventions of Adventism and Harry did not even object when she sold all her jewellery to start an orphanage. He was a generous and caring man even though, not at this time, a Christian.

In 1938 Harry decided to become a Seventh Day Adventist not only because of Cecilia's and her family's prayers but because of the friendship and support of the then President of the North New South Wales Conference, Pastor J.W. Kent.

Harry then decided that the shop must be closed on Sabbath. As a further test of faith, Christmas Eve that year, the busiest day of the year and the only day when there was late night shopping, fell on a Sabbath.

All the Kent family travelled to Tenterfield from Sydney to celebrate Christmas that year. Ora was to be married to Alfred Mee Lee on Boxing Day, the ceremony to be performed by Pastor Kent in the Methodist Church.

The Kents assisted on Christmas Eve when the shop was opened after the close of Sabbath. Lance dressed up as Santa Claus and other Christmas attractions were arranged. The footpath in front of the shop was crowded with people waiting to enter the shop when the doors were opened. The takings that night exceeded any received on any previous Christmas Eve.

All Cecilia and Harry's surviving nine children [two sons died in childhood] became baptised members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and were active in church activities especially in outreach programs.

The oldest son, Eric, studied Theology at Avondale and was instrumental in establishing the Welfare Work firstly in Greater Sydney and he later became Medical Secretary in the Trans Tasman Union. He died in 1980 aged 71.

The other son, Edward or Ted, studied Engineering in Australia, then Medicine at Loma Linda University in the United States of America. He received a scholarship to Yale University and specialised in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He invented the electronic Foetal Heart Monitor which is used as standard equipment in Obstetric Units worldwide and he held professorships at Loma Linda, Yale and Southern California Universities.

Before and after Harry's death in 1950, Dulcie, Merle and Hona, his unmarried daughters, took over the management of the shop and it became a very successful Drapery business. This was sold in 1973 to an Adventist family from Queensland and Cecilia, Dulcie, Merle and Hona moved to Sydney and became members of Thornleigh Church where Eric and family had attended and Jill and husband, Andrew Wong, are and have been attending since their marriage in 1956. Harry was 73 when he died.

Ora's husband, Alf was the senior elder of the Central Church in Brisbane and Ora was very involved there until Alf's death in 1976 after which she moved to Sydney and also joined Thornleigh Church.

Maisie, Cecilia's second youngest daughter, introduced Creative Activities into Adventist Churches, not only in Australia but overseas, initiating the first one in 1977 at the Chinese Church in Strathfield, where she and husband, Dennis Fook, were foundation members. Dulcie, Merle and Ora assisted in Creative Activities there. Maisie died in 2002. They had moved to the Central Coast a few years before her death.

Cecilia died in 1977 aged 89, Dulcie died in 1995 aged 84 and Merle in 2009 aged 97.

June who is married to Norman Long is a long time member of.Castle Hill Church and has been running Creative Activities, assisted by Norm, there for the last 32 years. They are both 89 years of age.

Hona and Jill have been active in the running of the Tuesday Club for the Frail Aged and Creative Activities at Thornleigh Church. Hona died in May of this year (2011).

Three of Cecilia's children are still living, Ora who is in Elizabeth Lodge and is 96 years old, June who is 89 and Jill who recently turned 81.

Interestingly amongst Cecilia's grandchildren there are seven doctors, a dentist, a social worker, three medical therapists, two lawyers, a teacher, an architect, an engineer and a manager in a computer company.

Possibly what is most known amongst our church's present members is Asian Aid which was established by Maisie in the 1960s. A separate article on Asian Aid is given in this issue.


The first part of this article is based on a story written by Dulcie Hon in the Australasian Adventist Church paper, the RECORD, on 16 October 1993.  The rest of the story comes from her sister Jill Wong.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 44 - December 2011 / January 2012 > The Hon Family Story (by Dulcie Hon and Jill Wong)