How God called Kwong Tek to leave his profession to serve full time in the church
Tek’s wife, Goldie recounted:
One day in 1992 I was praying about my sermon to our congregation in Perth. Speak about “boats” God seemed to tell me. Puzzled, I listed down all the things I could think of on the subject and eventually settled on the account of Jesus walking on the water and telling Peter to do the same.
I thought there must be someone in the congregation who needed to hear this message.
Little did I realize that God meant it for me and my husband Tek.
We recently received a book through the post called “Moving the Hand of God” in which the author explained that if we are really desperate for God to answer our prayer, our prayer must be accompanied by an offering which should really cost us. The author gave the biblical examples of Hannah who was so desperate for a child that she promised that if God were to give her a son, she would give him up to serve God. Another example is the widow who gave her last bit of flour and oil to feed God’s prophet Elisha and was then provided for by God with a continuous flow of oil. At that time we were desperately concerned about certain matters in the church and were fasting and praying to find a solution. After reading the book I thought I should try accompanying my prayer with an offering so that God would answer. I wondered what offering would be costly enough. God revealed it a week later.
While on holiday on a bus to Singapore with my daughter Cristal, I suddenly said to her, “I am afraid God may want me to go full time for Him but I am very reluctant.” Cristal replied, “You should pray for His direction.” I decided I wouldn’t because resigning from my medical work was not what I wanted to do. On returning to Perth I found Goldie sharing excitedly about the lessons the Lord was teaching her in her preparation of her talk. Vaguely I heard she was preaching about Peter walking on water but I did not really pay much attention.
At that time I was helping my brother Kwong Wai pastor a church. We were both working in our professions – he was a lecturer in Engineering, I was working as a government medical doctor. A crisis arose in our church: members were confused and troubled by complaints from other members. This drove us to our knees pleading to the Lord for solution and direction.
On Saturday morning as I went out of the house to pick up the newspaper a thought suddenly flashed across my mind: “Kwong Tek, it is time you pay your vow.” And I remembered the time thirty odd years ago when I was interviewed by the medical faculty board in Hong Kong University. The interviewers asked me, “Why do you wish to study medicine?” I had boldly answered, “Because I want to be a missionary doctor.” Well, here I was, working as a doctor all these years; true, serving God most of the time, actively involved in lots of Christian and church activities – but all the time working fully as a medical doctor. Was God reminding me to keep my promise now? I let the thought pass.
I had lunch with Pastor Derek Hong from Singapore whom I met for the first time. I sought his advice concerning our church problem. The next morning while I was reading the newspaper he phoned me and said he had been thinking of what we talked about and he felt led to tell me that I should seriously consider leaving my job and spend more time doing God’s work. Although Goldie was working at her desk beside me during the telephone conversation, I kept this to myself. I waited until evening to tell her. She was not surprised. She told me that like Peter in her sermon, I had to be sure Jesus was telling me to come before I step out of the boat. She said she had recently read an article on ‘guidance’ which suggested how we can make sure: a scripture passage, at least two confirmations from people who know nothing about our circumstances and the confirmation of the witness of the Holy Spirit to our spirit.
On Sunday night when we were praying together, Goldie said she saw a picture of tumultuous water. At once I recalled what she had said about her sermon and in my mind I seemed to hear Jesus’ voice saying, “Come”. There and then I reached for my bible and turned to Matthew 14 to see if the word “Come” was actually there. I read:
“Jesus immediately said to them “Take courage! Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s You,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to You on the water.”
“Come” He said.
At that time, I was working for the government on a half-yearly contract basis due to the poor economic environment in the country. After a few years due to the strong recommendation of my superior I was confirmed as a permanent staff. Was Jesus really asking me to leave my boat, my security and step out into the water? Would I now ‘throw’ all this away?
On Monday, our church elder Lawrence Wulff phoned the Elders in FGA Kuala Lumpur for their reply to our invitation to come to Perth to help us in our difficulties. He reported the conversation to me: they did not feel led by God to come. However they gave four suggestions. “One of it is,” Lawrence chuckled, “Kwong Tek should come out to be in full time service.”
That evening I was with our co-workers Patrick Chen and May Wong in the church office working on our speakers’ program. Finishing our work, out of the blue May looked at me and said, “Dr Chong, have you considered seriously coming out full time?”
That night I told Goldie that the final test would be our teenage daughter Lisal. A few months before when she found out that I had cut down my government working hours to 70% because of church work, she was upset because of the reduction in salary. How would she take zero income?
When she came out of her room, I said to her, “We want to share something important with you.” Somehow she knew what was coming. “Are you going into full time? No I am not happy about it.” I told her that was what I felt God was telling me to do. And before I even recounted the events that led to this decision she quietly said, “But if God wants you to do it, I guess we don’t really have a choice.”
We really didn’t. But we made this choice gladly and with anticipation of what walking on water would entail.
Since 1992 till today the Chongs have felt led by God not to ask for a salary from any organization but to live by faith. God has been a wonderful paymaster, not only blessing financially ( through past investments and unexpected family gifts) but in all areas of family life, ministry, health, etc.
They can testify with Peter who asked Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “…. everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much…” Matt.19:27-29. God did keep His word.
The Chongs were the first Asian editors and publishers of Asian Beacon 40+ years ago in Melaka. Goldie still contributes a Q&A column in AB. The Chongs have started their own website: www.deargoldie.com. This article was posted in their website in October 2015
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