My father was the Hollywood actor, Benson Fong. He starred in the Charlie Chan film series, as well as Keys of the Kingdom and Thirty Seconds over Tokyo. Because of his lifestyle I was raised around celebrities all my life. I would meet people like Gregory Peck, June Allyson, and Jack Lemmon all the time.
For much of my younger life, my father wasn’t around very much, but when he was, he was very strict. I was his only son and so he expected a lot from me. I suppose it was when I was about 13 that I started to rebel. At first it was drinking whiskey, then smoking pot regularly, and eventually graduating to LSD. As so many addicts do, I became a drug dealer, selling mainly LSD, marijuana, and hashish.
After a few years I moved to Laguna Canyon which was a notorious Orange County drug area, and became close friends with Rosemary Leary, wife of LSD guru, Timothy Leary. He was the man who coined the phrase, ‘Turn on, tune in, and drop out.’ I also delved into Eastern mysticism, using drugs to enhance my ‘spiritual’ experiences.
I was very serious about what I was into. On one occasion I fasted for 45 days and nights. I used to do yoga for hours, sitting out on the rocks in the high desert at the Joshua Tree Monument. (This is a national park close to Palm Springs.) Sitting on a blanket I would just watch the world turn, trying to centre myself and realise perfection.
There was almost nothing that I did not try in my spiritual quest. I finally got so frustrated that I decided I really wanted, once and for all, to become one with God. So there at the Joshua Tree Monument in 1970, I took a vial of pure crystal sunshine LSD. I snorted the equivalent of 150 doses and immediately began convulsing. I fell over on my back and couldn’t breathe. I remember dying, and, according to the testimony of those with me, they knew I was dead.
During this time I remember my heart flying and then ceasing. I peacefully nodded off into death. Then everything started to get dark because I couldn’t see any longer. I looked for the light and wanted to head for that light. That was what the mediums and psychics I knew had told me to expect.
When I could see no light, in desperation I cried out. ‘Jesus, if you’re real, save me.’ Then something extraordinary happened. In that darkness, there was light, flashing lights that became brighter and brighter. Pretty soon I woke up and could make out the Figure of a man in front of me. The brightness was such that I couldn’t bear to look at Him. Even the sun, shining behind Him, looked dim by comparison. I spun round and tried to bury my head in the sand but felt as if, whatever it was, could see right through every part of me. There was no place to hide. I head His voice saying, ‘I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.’ At that moment in time, I came back into this world.
Soon after this, a group of my old friends who had previously converted to Christianity, took me to hear a man preach in Long Beach. I remember listening carefully to what he was saying and knowing that it was what I had to do. I had to give my life totally and completely over to Jesus Christ.
Oden Fong is now a pastor at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, California.