By Dr Jeffrey & Angie Goh
William Chong was a man of Christian vision and tenacity. He was an intrinsically good person. His operative code word was endure – 忍.
From the time his sickness was first diagnosed three years earlier, to the afternoon of 6 January 2020 when he breathed his last, we walked closely with William and Susan, his wife of fifty years. Throughout that time, we had many private morning-coffees together. The couple was known for keeping fit, the regularity of their morning walks putting many of us to shame. Also, for more than fifty years in ministry, the energies of the indefatigable William knew no bounds. With that background, it was a long and painful process watching William’s strength on the wane, his body dwindling, his energy sapped. For him as for us, this whole thing – a devastating cancer – was never acceptable, always “why so sudden?” And so, even though we were privately hurting for him as the ravages of sickness took their inevitable toll, we never had the heart to let him sense how hard it was for us to witness the increasingly weakened state of this dear old friend. Privately, we were already going through an extended season of mourning long before the final “end”. But through it all, never was his full stature as the towering Christian that he was in the local faith community ever diminished in the eyes of people like ourselves who had known him well and appreciated the immense contributions he brought to the community. Instead, we were constantly amazed to behold, even after sickness had so severely depleted his body, and his steps occasionally became unsteady, so much was still intact in his spirit. William’s Christian vision, and the tenacious clarity with which he held it, subsisted to the very end.
1. Christian Vision and Tenacity
Christianity to William is so simple, at least in theory: we pray according to what we believe, and we act according to what we pray. Putting that into practice can be a lot more difficult of course. But William made it all look so easy, so natural. My long association with him tells me that three things, amongst others, motivated him.
First, is The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13; Lk. 11:2-4). This prayer is both Jesus’ personal way of praying and the prayer he taught his disciples. William’s active services to the faith community suggest that he had long understood the interior consciousness of the Lord Jesus transmitted to his followers through this prayer. The perspective of that consciousness is on building the kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus’ prayer begins with the consciousness of his communion with God and all creation. He is aware of his solidarity and co-humanity with all (Our), and that he and us all are receiving life from a loving Ultimate Source (Father). In his prayer, Jesus does not begin on earth, and yet his kingdom-mission is on earth. All this clarifies the Christian calling for William and us: we are called to be conscious of Jesus’ consciousness, so that if we cultivate the same heaven-consciousness that Jesus had, it will drive us down to earth with the kingdom agenda of God and Christ.