KOTA KINABALU: An elderly local couple who left the shores of Sabah to spread the word of God in faraway Madagascar have both died of Covid-19.
Francis Liaw Yuk Yen, 73, died on Aug 5, three weeks after his wife Lily Chin Tsen Yun, 70, succumbed to the virus on July 14.
They left behind three children who because of travel restrictions which are still in place sadly could not attend their funerals.
On Aug 6, a memorial service was held in the home of one of their daughters here attended by close family members and church leaders.
Not a dry eye was in the house as the church paid tribute to the life and ministry of the couple in Madagascar.
“It is heartbreaking for us in the church community – but more so for their three children and families here,” said Bishop James Wong of the Basel Christian Church of Malaysia.
He said the couple had been sent to do missionary work among the Chinese community in Madagascar back in 2004.
As fate would have it, Liaw who was placed on a two-week quarantine following his wife’s death, fell ill while preparing to bring her ashes home.
Liaw had kept his hopes up and was receiving treatment for the virus infection but on Aug 5 the church received news of his death, according to a Star report.
Wong was quoted as saying the church had planned to bring Liaw back home to Sabah on the earliest flight available after his discharge from the hospital.
“But unfortunately, he passed away,” said Wong, adding they were now relying on church personnel in Madagascar to send the couple’s ashes home.
Recounting the days before Liaw’s death, Wong said everyone was heartened when he had shared photos of himself having a cup of coffee while recuperating in hospital.
“He was smiling and indicating that his condition was improving,” he said, adding that news of his death shocked everyone.
“The church and the family would like to record their thanks especially to Willy Andriambelo, Honorary Consul of Malaysia in Madagascar,” Wong said.
“He has been most caring and supportive and provided all the necessary assistance during the illness and the funeral of the couple,” he said.