Christian Higher Education Since 1892

The RECORD Spring 2013 - Enoch Poon

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A Revolutionary Upbringing

Enoch Poon’s childhood and youth sound like the story line of a Hollywood script: political drama, family separation, dire circumstances, a wealthy benefactor and then a new life in a distant land. Still, Poon ’86, the president of Innovative International LLC, does not dwell on the hardships. He counts his blessings and points to God’s goodness.

“My parents were medical doctors in Xiamen, China,” Poon explains. “They were both Christians. During the Cultural Revolution, my father was sent to prison for about a year for his faith. After he was released, the Communist party sent both my parents to a remote village in China for further re-education.”

Poon’s parents were among the 36 million persons persecuted during China’s decade-long Cultural Revolution. The “Ten Years of Calamity,” as many in China remember it today, began in 1966.

Contributing to the calamity was Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong’s belief that knowledge was power and the Party must subvert educated people. Government officials closed universities for nearly a decade and sent educated, urban youth to rural areas to engage in manual labor.

Poon was six years old when the “re-education” of his parents forced their separation from Poon and his brothers. “We only got to visit them during summer breaks,” Poon recalls.Mao

Bleak economic conditions compounded the misery. “Life was very harsh at that time. Everything was rationed,” explains Poon. “We were allowed only 1 pound of meat per person per month. Most of our meals consisted of rice and cabbage.”

In 1972, Poon’s grandmother was allowed to leave China for Hong Kong. The law permitted her to take one child, and Poon, age ten, accompanied her.

“I believe that it was the Communist way of getting rid of the least productive members of society,” he says. “I left behind my parents and brothers and stayed with different aunts and uncles. They were Christians and afforded me a normal childhood.”

As a high school student, Poon professed faith in Christ. “I accepted the Lord and was baptized in a Baptist church in Hong Kong. I loved our Bible fellowship class, choir and summer camps. I would attend church every Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.”

China had just started to resume its university system when Poon was of college age. Still, universities in the U.S., Canada and U.K. were regarded as the best in the world. Poon qualified for a sponsorship from educator and philanthropist C.W. Chu to study at Vincennes University, a two-year institution in Indiana where Chu’s son had studied.

“When I was in Vincennes, I attended the Free Methodist Church,” explains Poon. “We had a very active international student Bible fellowship group. We would meet every Saturday evening at Phil and Sharon Cullison’s home. The pastor at the time was David Colgan. I befriended many good Christian families. They told me about Greenville College and encouraged me to visit and apply.” Poon did.

Poon became a U.S. citizen in 1994. He makes his home in Tampa, Florida. He stays connected to Greenville College and speaks on occasion to students in its Professional Business Leaders class. Last fall, his parting advice to the students was to keep their eyes open and acquire all the knowledge they can.

“That is the beauty of the liberal arts,” he said. “Try to experiment wisely, even in different disciplines. You never know what life is going to bring.”

Poon’s encouragement has a freeing ring to it, worlds apart from the ideologies that clouded his childhood and youth.

Poon, Tol, Oller, Kinsey at lunch

*Enoch Poon with GC graduates Mark Van Tol, Holly Oller and Ben Kinsey, first year English language
teachers in Changsha, China. The alumni lunched at Mao's Family Restaurant, which is said to serve Chairman Mao's favorite dishes.