Canon James Wong, who shook church and marketplace by the power of the Holy Spirit, called home to the Lord
by Janice Tai // April 8, 2022, 6:43 pm
"We have moved on from the Billy Graham generation. The older ones may be passing away, but God is raising up a younger generation to get in there and gather in the harvest," said Canon James Wong In a 2018 forum “Remembering the Crusade – A Church United for the Gospel”.
Canon James Wong, who was active in building God’s kingdom for more than half a century, leaving an impact on every stream of the faith – in denominations, marketplace and schools – was called home to the Lord this evening (April 8).
He died of complications related to Parkinson’s Disease, which he battled for more than a decade. He was 82.
Canon Wong leaves behind his wife, Esther, their two children Jonathan and Timothy, as well as their six grandchildren.
“He is now fully alive and restored to complete wholeness in body, soul and spirit. We grieve with hope.”
“He is now fully alive and restored to complete wholeness in body, soul and spirit. We grieve with hope,” said his son Timothy.
Canon Wong was an Anglican minister serving under the Diocese of Singapore for more than five decades. He played a significant part in inviting Billy Graham to speak at evangelistic crusades in Singapore in 1978.
From that event, revival came to the churches and many came to know the Lord.
After the crusades, Canon Wong and other leaders formed the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore (EFOS), which was responsible for gathering the churches in Singapore together, and the Singapore Centre for Evangelism and Missions (SCEM), a missions-sending body.
Baptised in the Holy Spirit
A few years before Canon Wong invited Billy Graham to Singapore, he had his own personal revival moment.
In 1973, Canon Wong felt the stirrings of a holy dissatisfaction within him.
“I had such a hunger for God, and I was dissatisfied with my ministry. I desired to be filled with the Spirit but I didn’t know who to turn to. One night, the Lord baptised me in the Spirit and I began to pray and worship God in a new language,” recalled Canon Wong in an interview with City News.
“One night, the Lord baptised me in the Spirit and I began to pray and worship God in a new language.”
At that time, he had just become the first Singaporean pastor of Church of the Good Shepherd and the young leaders there had doubts whether he could walk into shoes previously worn by Western clergymen.
That experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit subsequently unlocked a whole avenue of ministry for him as God opened doors for church planting and evangelism works.
At that time, Canon Wong was pastoring a group of young people at the Church of the Good Shepherd at Marine Parade Centre. Working with Bishop Chiu Ban It, they witnessed the ushering in of the charismatic renewal in Singapore and South-east Asia in 1975.
Among those he mentored at Marine Parade were young men such as Kong Hee – who would go on to become Senior Pastor of City Harvest Church – and Yang Tuck Yoong, later the founder of Cornerstone Community Church.
“Opening the way for many to know Jesus”
In 1977, Canon Wong birthed eight new churches in various housing estates around Singapore, including the Chapel of the Resurrection, Bukit Timah Christian Centre (now Chapel of Christ the King) and Whampoa Christian Centre (now Chapel of the Holy Spirit).
“Working with the Holy Spirit, we began to see new congregations being built up in the housing estates.”
Said Canon Wong in a past interview with Selah: “I was challenged by the Lord to plant churches. I saw the need to have churches in the housing estates and my vision was to plant a church in every housing estate and to reach out to the community.
“Working with the Holy Spirit, we began to see new congregations being built up in the housing estates, opening the way for many to know Jesus.”
Since then, Canon Wong has served in many Christian organisations, including the Scripture Union, Graduates Christian Fellowship, the National Council of Churches, the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore and the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization and Tung Ling Bible School.
Since 1986, he was also the Founder-President of the annual Festival of Praise. He has also served as the Honorary National Director for Crown Financial Ministries and the Crusade for World Revival which was founded by the late Selwyn Hughes.
“I believe in the next generation”
Even in his later years, Canon Wong remained a firm supporter of youths.
In a 2018 forum co-organised by Thir.st, “Remembering the Crusade – A Church United for the Gospel”, he said: “I pray that God would use you, the younger generation, for the harvest. For this harvest.
“We have moved on from the Billy Graham generation. The older ones may be passing away, but God is raising up a younger generation to get in there and gather in the harvest – to reach out to our nation and region.
“I’m believing in God that the next generation will help bring a new wave of revival into Singapore, where we will see a new generation of young people coming into the Kingdom of God.”
To join the livestream of the “Celebration of the Life of Canon James Wong”, click on the following links:
9 April 8pm
10 April 8pm
11 April 8pm
Funeral Service: 12 April 12 noon
REMEMBERING CANON DR JAMES WONG:
“Canon James Wong was pioneer, church-planter extraordinaire and my beloved pastor”: Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong
“Canon James Wong, you are our hero of faith. You have finally entered the eternal rest of the Lord”: Pastor Kong Hee
Remembering the 1978 Billy Graham Crusade, Part 3: Hope for the next generation
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