Last week, Rev. Thomas Wang, chairman of Great Commission International (GCCI), went to Hong Kong to attend the memorial service for Rev. Fred Cheung, founder of Worldwide Christian Church Ministry (WCCM). Last week, Rev. Wang shared the direction of his service on his 80th birthday celebration gathering. Despite his age status, he still strives to serve whole-heartedly upon the ministries of proclamation of the gospel and missions, which is a testimony to his unfailing passion in serving God.
The Hong Kong Gospel Post reporter was honored to be able to interview Rev. Wang, who was traveling on a tight schedule. He shared with us his life ministries, problems in today's churches, the problems in United States, and the church condition in Hong Kong.
Q. Rev. Wang, you've founded and have led many different ministries - Chinese Christian Missions (CCM), Lausanne, CCCOWE, Great Commission International, and the recent Support Traditional Marriage Association, etc,. On your 80th birthday gathering, you testified that you did not plan out the directions for your ministry. Then, looking back now, what are the relationships between each of these ministries that were founded at different times?
Yes, I did not plan beforehand. Each step I take, God opened a door for me: God knew what my needs are. He trained me and he gave me the next step; he then trained me some more, and gave me my next step. If there wasn't experience from CCM, then I wouldn't have been able to do CCCOWE. In the same way, if I didn't have experience from CCCOWE, then I wouldn't have been able to do Lausanne. If there wasn't the experience from Lausanne, then I wouldn't have been able to do AD2000 & Beyond Movement.
God has his plans and he trains me step by step.
Q. Looking back in the last several decades, which ministry did you feel was the most difficult to push forward? What were the difficulties?
In reality, they are all difficult, but the most difficult is breaking the traditions - Chinese has many traditions, concepts and habits. In the Chinese community, it is not an easy thing to unite everyone to cooperate together.
There are two core reasons. The first reason is that Chinese tradition of loving their family is known throughout the world. This is the value and tradition of Chinese: parents at home suffer to support and maintain a family. But at the same time, there are negative effects, which is what has formed our introverted culture. Ever since we were small, we have been exposed to the "family" culture: each household would only care to sweep the snow in front of the house, but anything beyond that they would not care.
After we became Christians, we unconsciously brought these kinds of traditions to church. Believers would only go to church on weekends, and they would not associate with other denominational churches. As a result, the church one body and unity are really bad for Chinese churches.
The second reason is education. In the church teachings, the meaning of the word "church" is not understood fully.
The meaning of "Church" is that can be seen and touched, but there is a second meaning. The other meaning of church is also pointing to "Ecumenical Church", which is really "church believing in the bible."
Most churches only teach the first meaning. To love church, serve church, it means to love our own congregation, but we would rarely speak about the Universal body of Christ, so brothers and sisters do not show much concern about it. This is the second reason that caused today's churches to lack the perspective of the kingdom and openness.
Q. Then, how can churches overcome this kind of situation?
If we want breakthroughs, pastors should have breakthroughs; for pastors to breakthroughs, the seminaries need to first breakthrough. The leading professors in seminaries should first have a wide heart and the kingdom concept. This is what the Chinese churches lack.
Q. Speaking of seminaries, in this year's exchange between Pastoral Leadership Seminar and Seminary Education Workshop, pastors from around the world discussed the problem on how the seminary-trained students did not meet the qualifications of church needs. What is your viewpoint on this problem? What kind of reforms in the seminaries today should be made?
Seminaries and churches both place much emphasis on the balance of knowledge and spirituality, but, in reality, today's seminaries take the path of knowledge, scholastic aptitude and education status. It is true, Christianity is not anti-knowledge, but a person serving the Lord needs to have a balance between knowledge and spirituality.
Regarding reforms, actually it is reforming the perspectives and values that churches and seminaries have on the world. With this as a foundation, that is when we can talk about what to do next; in another words, we should look at what we need to do today. When we know what we need to do, that is when we can have a clear direction and goals. That is when we know what kinds of people do church need. Then, that is when seminaries can know what type of people to provide.
Q. Next year in February, you will publish a book called, "America Return to God." What are the problems in United States that this book is pointing to?
Since 16th century when humanism rose, man was exalted, position of God was lowered, and the emphasis is that man is the measure of all living creature and exalting himself. Towards the end of 19th century, egalitarian liberalism scholars began to appear. They do not believe that the bible as the word of God, nor do they believe the holiness of Christ, which progress slowly into a trend of thought: man do not need God.
United States was established by God, and its founding fathers were all Christians. On every U.S. dollar bills, it prints, "In God, We Trust" - We believe in God. However in the last 50 years, they have drawn further and further away from God. The public schools in United States prohibit prayers, scripture-readings and even speaking about the gospel. The cross or the Ten Commandment cannot be posted in the court rooms. Thus, America is becoming farther and farther away from God.
West Europe has left God, and America is following the West. Canada is no different. When we see this kind of dangerous situation, we need to publish a book. We hope that this book can be published by Feb. of next year, and it can be sent to leaders of all levels in United States. We hope to repent to God and come back before the Lord.
Q. Coming to Hong Kong this time, what do you observe of the conditions of church in Hong Kong?
First, Hong Kong is advanced in its thoughts and areas of focuse, while the Chinese in United States and Canada are falling behind. People in Hong Kong are very sharp in self-introspection; second, the elites of Chinese Churches, meaning those who with abilities, are located mostly in Hong Kong.
The things talked about are the positive aspects, but we'll speak about the negative aspects in the back.
Third, there is the condition of being close-minded and expansion is lacking. Maybe it is because of the influence in the environment. We hope that we won't become introverted because of the size of influences in the environment. Rather, we need to expand God's kingdom.
Fourth, I feel that Hong Kong churches should stand firm upon the biblical foundation. Taking the issue of homosexuals as an example, today's church perspective and that of the bible is different. The bible has stated very clearly: homosexuality is a sin, but some churches are always running in circles, saying "Even though Bible says this, but..."
Sometimes the church follows the world. There is a saying that is very true - church is afraid of offending people, but they are not afraid of offending God; church would rather offend God, then to offend people. They are following the crowd. Whatever the voice of the crowd is, the leader will just follow. There are no moral principles or standards of faith just to win the support and votes of the followers. This is the pitiful image of the church. This is the pitiful image of the democratic countries.
Thus, I say this quite often, "The basics of Democracy and Dictatorship are humanism." The difference is that dictatorship is one person and democracy is by a group of people, but essentially, it is all the ideas of "human."
Democracy is the best political system conceived by man, but it has its limitations. Why? The meaning of majority rule has the basis: the majority cannot be wrong. This kind of institution can be maintained for a period of time under a good Christian environment, but most people are corrupted, then what do you do? Is there any hope in democracy? Just like the today's Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Spain and Northern European countries, they are democratic countries that have legalized homosexual marriages. Canada is also following them. We need to watch out for these new regulations. New laws are all passed by majority votes and they are all processed through a democratic procedure.
Thus, democracy cannot solve all the problems, because democracy is still humanism. In conclusion, returning to God is essential. Man is corrupt and sinful - no matter if it is one or a group. Thus, we need to return to God.