1. Can you tell us a little about your early life? For example: where were you born, what did your parents do, where did you grow up and go to school?
I was born in British Hong Kong in 1960 to parents from Guangdong. Both my parents came from humble and uneducated backgrounds. After fleeing communist China, my father was sent to the United States to work at the age of 17. He was only allowed to return to his family once every 10 years. My mother worked as a seamstress, while caring for my older brother and me in Hong Kong. I attended a Christian mission primary school in Hong Kong and completed Primary 4 before my family immigrated to California in 1970. After I completed my primary, junior and senior high school education in Los Angeles, I obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, majoring in the History of Modern China.
2. How did you come to know the Lord?
Although I was exposed to Christianity in Hong Kong, I did not receive Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour until the age of 19, after completing my first year of university. College life was indeed eye-opening to me. I was bombarded by various claims that there was no creator God, truth was socially and linguistically constructed, and ethics were pragmatically driven. Growing up in Hong Kong, I had various supernatural encounters with spirits and ghosts. So, for me, it was never a question of whether I believed in the supernatural, but which god I would embrace. It dawned on me that I had little inner resource or moral compass to navigate life. Everyone in university was extremely smart, and we all worked hard to prepare for careers in academia, engineering, law, medicine, or business. It was also very clear that many students, including myself, pursued our ambitions through the avenues of knowledge, pleasure, and material things. I remember coming home one summer feeling lost, disillusioned, and broken. My heart searched for a deeper meaning of life, and I slowly began to consider spiritual things. That summer I worked as a manager in a Chinese restaurant, where a co-worker witnessed to me and invited me to church. As the gospel was shared, I acknowledged my sinfulness and professed faith in Jesus Christ. I learned through Christian discipleship that my identity as a Christian was not defined by what I do, the extent of my so-called success, or the things I have. Rather, my identity was shaped by the love of God and my relationship with Christ as the motivation for serving him.
3. How long have you been in Christian service? Have you always been in Christian ministry?
I have served the Lord in full-time Christian ministry for roughly 30 years, including 17 years as a pastor and 13 years as a Bible college professor and dean. After graduating with my undergraduate degree in 1983, I worked one year as a secondary school teacher to earn enough money to attend law school. On the advice of my pastor, whom the Lord used to completely redirect my path, I ended up going to seminary to prepare for pastoral ministry. I earned my M.Div, Th.M from Biola University, a PhD in Biblical and Theological Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a second PhD in Intercultural Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
4. Please tell us about your family.
My wife, Rhonda, and I have been married for 28 years. Rhonda is an American-born Chinese and a registered nurse by training. She currently serves as the registrar at International Community School (ICS) in Clementi. Our son Stephen is 17 years old and is an 11th grade student at ICS. Our daughter Elisabeth was also from ICS, and has since completed her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Washington. She currently works in digital technology in San Francisco.
5. Can you please share some thoughts and feelings about joining ORPC? What do you hope to be able to bring to ORPC?
Quite honestly, we did not know much about ORPC when the church reached out to us. So our initial reaction was one of surprise, with mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension. I felt excited because God has established ORPC as an important and strategic witness in Singapore for so long. And to be part of that tradition is a real privilege. However, at the same time, the Asian context in general and the Singapore context in particular have changed so drastically over the last 161 years that the church will need to know how to take the eternal word of God to engage the ever-changing world, so that we are at once faithful to God’s word and able to meet the needs of the time. Given the rich traditions of ORPC, this is a daunting task, because it will require us to be faithful, courageous, sacrificial, and appropriate in our Christian witness. My family and I come to ORPC, trusting that God has called us to serve this community. As one of God’s under-shepherds, I will first and foremost commit myself to personal discipleship, as one who seeks after God’s heart. Together with the Session and the pastoral team, I want to strengthen the spiritual foundations of the church through the preaching, teaching, and application of God’s word. I anticipate the church to face various challenges ahead that will require us to make adaptive changes in order for the church to continue to thrive. However, with every challenge, there will also be opportunities for growth. I hope to provide spiritual leadership and work toward synergising all aspects of the church, so that together we will realize God’s vision for ORPC for the foreseeable future, and to align the ministries of the church to that vision.