The close of a chapter
Celebrating the ministry of Enoch Wong, senior servant of God
We should be just as enthusiastic about celebrating the closing chapter and milestones of leaders who have finished well as we are about calling out emerging leaders. It is the finishing well that holds promise for every active servant of God.
Sunday, October 16 marked one such celebration as the 17 Chinese MB churches in B.C. bid farewell to Enoch and Grace Wong, who are now in their 80s and retiring to a seniors home in Scarborough, Ont.
Rev. Enoch has been a key figure in leading, advising and nurturing 10 Chinese MB churches, including two in Venezuela, for 25 years. His influence over the leadership, direction, church planting and strategizing of the Cantonese, Mandarin and English ministries of these churches has been felt over three generations. His love for each ministry is very obvious.
Some people outside the Chinese MB churches have affectionately referred to Rev. Enoch as the “pope of the Chinese MB churches.” Within the Chinese MB community, however, his role has been understood in Asian hierarchical terms where there is transference of filial piety to this senior servant of God and his wife Grace. They have been spiritual parents to so many in these churches.
Converted to the Christian faith in 1945, Rev. Enoch became full-time pastor of the first Chinese MB Church in Vancouver, established by the late Henry Klassen. For more than half his ministry, he served as volunteer pastor and leader. I have been astounded by the volume of service I have seen this “bent over” godly man give to the church. I have witnessed pastors and boards seeking out his spiritual insights and perspectives, especially during crucial transitions, leadership installations and church planting initiatives.
My own memories begin with our first meeting in 1998, when Rev. Enoch told me his English name and why he had chosen it. It was based on a deep desire for the Lord to take him in the same way the biblical Enoch was taken from this life. From the time of my installation as pastor, when he told me “get down to your knees” (I now understand why), I have witnessed how this man with his frail back and big smile has won so many hearts for Christ.
I’ll never forget one occasion when I was helping him baptize. The baptismal candidate stayed under water and Rev. Enoch couldn’t retrieve him. He turned to me and said, “Help me.”
I’ll never forget his tearful prayers or the day he came to the piano during a prayer meeting when I had no piano player. (Not bad for an 80-year-old man!)
Many times people have tried to give him gifts but he just put them back into the offering for the church.
The farewell service, held at Fraserview MB Church, Richmond, B.C., was a combined gathering of the Chinese MB churches. Also present to congratulate the Wongs was the elder daughter of Henry Klassen.
Some of the most touching stories, told during a time of thanksgiving and sharing, came from people who had been helped by Rev. Enoch during family funerals. One woman said that she could not accept her mother’s death and threw her Bible away. His counsel that “God does not make mistakes” helped her recover her faith.
Gift presentations were given on behalf of our Pacific Grace and Chinese churches and the evening ended with Rev. Enoch’s final message. He spoke on Acts 20:24, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
“I am not worthy of all this celebration,” he concluded. “I did nothing; it has been the God behind the man.” I see humility, faithfulness, love, joy, anticipation and gratitude in the Wongs as they conclude their service to our MB family. May our lives, too, reflect these realities during the closing chapters of our service to our Lord.
—Matthew Todd is English ministries pastor of Port Moody (B.C.) Pacific Grace MB Church.