From left: Charis Lim, Ps Daniel Khong, Ps Jonathan Wong, Ps Raymond Fong
Church Life / 12 August 2022

Children of the revival: Second-gen church leaders share their personal stories

Words by Gracia Chiang
Illustrated by Nicole Chan

In our 1st article from the Revival 1972 series, we featured those who were at the forefront of the Charismatic Renewal.

This time, we hear from the generation that came after them.

These church leaders were children when the revival swept through Singapore.

How did the move of the Holy Spirit impact their lives?

Rev Jonathan Wong was 6 years old when his father, the late Canon James Wong, was assigned to oversee the English congregation at the Church of the Good Shepherd.

More significantly, this was also the place that he and his brother, Timothy Wong, were filled with the Holy Spirit in 1976. He was only 10, while his brother was 7.

Having come full circle, Rev Wong was posted back to the same church in 2016 as the pastor of the English congregation. 

It’s interesting because we were living right here. Before this new building came up, there was a vicarage that was onsite.

For many years, the English congregation met on Sunday afternoons. And one Sunday morning, when my father was in his room praying, my brother and I stepped in.

He asked my dad: “Dad, what is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?”

So my dad taught the two of us what it means to be baptised in the Spirit, to have an experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

After he taught us the biblical truth about it, he asked the two of us: “Would you want to receive the Holy Spirit?”

And my brother said: “Yes.”

I’m the older brother, kor kor cannot lose right?

I, of course, said “yes” as well, not really knowing what it was all about.

So we bowed our heads in prayer, and he prayed over us.

Then he said to us: “Go ahead and just pray whatever the Holy Spirit puts in your heart.”

And we burst out in tongues. We were certainly filled by the Holy Spirit.

I’ve never looked back.

Even through childhood, even through the times in adolescence when I questioned my faith, God has been faithful and has kept us both in that experience.

We understand the importance of living in the power of the Spirit.

I also remember in those days there was no babysitting services.

So obviously, we went with our parents everywhere. If there were meetings, we would be there.

I remember quite vividly the Spiritual Renewal Seminars and the like.

People from different stripes of the Christian world in Singapore would gather to hear people teach on the things of the Spirit, the things of God.

There was such a great hunger for God.

I remember seeing all kinds of people from all kinds of denominations working together, right from those days down through the Billy Graham Crusade and even further on.

That’s always been one of my dad’s passions — to see the unity of the Body of Christ, so that we can really see the Gospel preached to the ends of the earth.

So much happened in those days — in the ’70s, and into the ’80s and ’90s. It has continued to develop right up to today.

Being a pastor myself, I’m very aware of how unity is such an important aspect of who we are as the Church here.

Many people actually look to Singapore as a shining example of how the Church can work together, and long may that continue.

Charis Lim‘s father, Rev Dr Isaac Lim, was the Pastor-in-Charge of Wesley Methodist Church when the Holy Spirit was moving powerfully across the nation.

And it was under the Senior Lim’s leadership that the church started its first dedicated Prayer & Praise service in 1984.

It was therefore significant when Charis became the Chairperson of the Prayer & Praise ministries at Wesley from 2008 to 2013 and Lay Leader overseeing the worship services from 2014 to 2021.

In fact, Charis’ name was inspired by the Charismatic Renewal — and he shares a personal story about how the power of prayer saved his life.

Interestingly, my mum and dad were praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which happened after they conceived me.

They had a miraculous encounter and began to move in the flow of spirit.

As result of that, they named me Charis because of the Charismatic Movement.

As you know, the Charismatic Movement comes from the Greek word charismata, which is gifts of grace.

And so they committed me to the Lord, to be God’s instrument of grace, by naming me Charis.

In a sense, I’m a product of the move of the revival, which began in the early 1970s.

Being born in 1980, I was pretty much indirectly impacted by that move. My name is testimony of that.

Also, when I was born, I was actually very premature.

And at three months old, I was very small and was infected with encephalitis, which is actually an inflammation of the brain.

I was very, very sick.

For three days and three nights, I was in the hospital, strapped to machines keeping me alive.

During that period, because there were prayer groups gathering that were birthed out of this movement, people began praying for me. 

The miraculous thing was that the prognosis was grave.

The doctors were saying that even if I did survive, brain damage was an eventuality.

It was pretty clear that that my life was on the line. But the people of God gathered to pray.

What touched me most was that people bothered to pray — people I didn’t know bothered to pray for me.

And because they prayed for me, God’s healing hand came upon me and my broken body.

As a result of that, I’m alive today.

A testimony beyond that is when I was four years old, I had an encounter of the Spirit myself.

My friend received the Lord, and she wanted me to have a special experience.

So she asked me to go into this dark room and she said: “I’m going to switch off all the lights because I want you to focus on God. I’m going to lead you through the Sinner’s Prayer.”

And I believe that was the day I came to know the Lord.

As I was praying that Sinner’s Prayer, as I followed her word after word, I remember that there was something very powerful just descending upon my head.

It was something pressing against my head — a force just pushing down.

As it pushed down from my head, it began coursing through the veins of my body, just flooding from my head, all the way to my eyes, nose, waist and feet. There was a tingling sensation.

I still remember that experience. I knew that was the day when I was filled with the Holy Spirit.

And the work of God’s Spirit continued in and through me in a very personal way.

Because beyond that, the Lord began to speak to me through dreams and visions.

Rev Raymond Fong was a young boy when the revival broke out in Wesley Methodist Church. Musically talented from a tender age, he was also part of the children’s choir.

Years later, it was at a Prayer & Praise Service — which was started as a result of the charismatic expression of worship — that Rev Fong had his first encounter with the Holy Spirit, a moment that would go on to change his life. 

After graduating from law school, he practised as a lawyer for more than a decade before answering the call to full-time ministry.

Rev Fong’s parents are also faithful Wesleyans who spent 15 years in the missions field.

I was 19 and going through a very, very spiritually dry period of time while I was doing my National Service.

Despite being a second-generation Christian, having attended and served in church all my life, I was still seeking for the reality of God. 

And right in the valley, when I was going through the spiritual desert, I was just seeking God.

In those days, we had a 7.30pm Prayer & Praise service on Sunday.

Before I booked in, I would come in my uniform not expecting anything, but just sitting there, waiting to receive the Word and hopefully some encouragement before I stepped back into camp. 

That evening, I forgot what the speaker said, but he made a call.

And I was telling myself: “Don’t go down, just stay where you are and nothing’s going to happen.”

Next thing I knew I was right in front, crying. I don’t even know or remember what the speaker did.

But the next moment I was on the ground, and I realised that I had fallen under the power of the Holy Spirit.

As I laid there, it was such an experience of God’s love that I can still remember it today.

It was just an encounter of His love, and I knew that I was truly forgiven.

Despite being in the valley, I knew that He was right there with me.

I didn’t even know how long I laid there. I wasn’t alone. There were a lot of people right there in front with me.

That was a turning point for me in my spiritual journey.

It didn’t mean that the problems went away. But in the midst of it all, I knew a God that was real.

I encountered the power of this God, which transformed me from the inside out.

It wasn’t just religion to me anymore. It became a living faith.

John Wesley, our founder (of Methodism), had this “strangely warm” experience — an Aldersgate experience.

That, to me, was my strangely warm experience.

And I realised that everyone needs that. There needs to come some point in our lives for God to be so real to us.

He certainly set me on a path of discipleship, eventually leading to where I am today. 

Pastor Daniel Khong‘s father, Lawrence Khong, founded Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) in 1986.  

Growing up in church, he remembers witnessing not just signs and wonders, but also lives being radically transformed. 

Now the Senior Pastor of FCBC, he emphasises why revival cannot just be a thing of the past.

I was the pastor’s kid who was always at church.

I was always following my dad for all kinds of conferences and events, both local and overseas.

And I remember seeing a very powerful move of the Holy Spirit in our church.

It was not just a one-off thing.

It was not just at some event, but every single gathering, every single service, every single prayer meeting and even in cell groups.

We were seeing the power of the Holy Spirit move.

Demons were being cast out, people were being healed. There was a lot of deliverance, a lot of ministry that was constantly taking place.

I would be there, my dad would be preaching, and I was just a kid in the church service watching everybody.

They would be worshipping and singing, and people would just be coming under the power of the Lord.

God was just moving in such a powerful way.

As I grew older, as I processed what I saw, I realised that revival wasn’t just that manifestation that took place at the service.

The truth is, when people left the services, and went back to their homes, their neighbourhoods, their offices and wherever they went, they brought a certain new spirit with them.

There was a spirit of fervour, the Spirit of God was upon them — they were living out their faith as they should as Christians and preaching the Gospel to every single person they would meet.

That revival I saw when I was growing up was not just about signs and wonders, but I saw people’s lives truly being touched and transformed.

Is revival harder for youths or for second-generation Christians? I would say there are some challenges.

I say this coming from the perspective of being a second-generation Christian myself, and now a second-generation pastor and also a second-generation senior pastor of our church.

I think it’s very easy for you and me to become complacent in our faith.

Because we, to a certain degree, were born into this. It’s very easy for us to take this for granted.

In my own journey, as I took on the leadership in our church, I had to explore this as well.

Am I here because I have to, or am I here because I want to?

One thing I’ve always been saying is: Am I doing all this because I am convinced about it in my mind, or am I convicted about it in my spirit?

Conviction is something that can’t quite be passed down from generation to generation.

Conviction is something that comes from the Holy Spirit.

You as a second-generation Christian must have that personal encounter of the Lord.

This story is part of a series of articles we are publishing based on the transcripts from unaired footage of the Revival 1972 documentary.

In coming weeks, we will explore what a revival could look like today, obstacles and pitfalls to seeing that happen, and hopes and dreams for the next generation.

Haven’t watched Revival 1972? Catch it below!


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