I served at New York Chinese Alliance Church (NYCAC) in the 1990s, when Rev. Daniel Leung was the senior pastor and Rev. Andrew Leung was serving at Suriname Alliance Church after his departure from NYCAC. There were quite a number of elderly Taishanese sisters attending NYCAC in that era. Once when I was chatting with an elderly sister, she told me that before Rev. Andrew Leung came to the church, they had a financial difficulty and a lot of church members were very disappointed with the church. But after Rev. Leung came, he encouraged them, helped rebuild their faith/trust in church and helped bring the church out of that difficulty. The first time I served with Rev. Leung was during my first short-term mission trip. On that trip, a group of five people including me, went to Valencia, Venezuela for two months and Rev. and Mrs. Leung helped lead us in the first two weeks. During those two weeks, a few incidents left deep impression upon me. On our first day, Rev. Leung asked us how many people we wanted to lead to receive Christ. We the group of 5 young people answered 20 because we thought leading 20 people to the Lord in 2 months should be do-able. But Rev. Leung said no, we need to bring 40 people to the Lord. From that day on, we prayed each day that the Lord would bring 40 people to Him. Time flew by quickly. Two months had passed and on the day we left, 41 people had come to know the Lord. The church had started to meet since we left. Rev. Leung taught us to ask boldly and consistently, and God will answer in ways that is above and beyond what we ask.
When we started doing visitations among the Chinese residents who were mostly grocery store or restaurant owners, Rev. Leung reminded us that we should bring along a bottle of water so that if we were offered water or food, we could gently decline their offer and let them know that we already had our own water. Rev. Leung wanted to prevent them from thinking we took advantage of them and in turn caused possible hindrance to the spread of the gospel among them. Till this day I still hold tight to this principle; whether it’s non-believers, believers, the church, I should guard my heart against personal monetary or material gains so as to not cause hindrance to the work of the Lord. Romans 13:8 says “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
In 1999, I led a short-term mission team to Rev. Leung’s new church plant in Panama to do a vacation bible school (VBS). Those two weeks were very tiring—the full-day (early morning to late afternoon/early evening) vacation bible school lasted for 2 whole weeks, and the weather was very hot. Two weeks went by quickly, and the VBS concluded with an evangelistic meeting on the last night. We finally returned to Rev. Leung’s home close to midnight that day. Suddenly, Rev. Leung came over to me and asked, “James, you look very tired.” I thought to myself, “Needless to ask, all of us were very tired.” Rev. Leung then said, “Why don’t I give you a foot massage.” I immediately declined and offered to give him one instead. However, he didn’t listen and started to give me a massage right the way. During the massage, I shared with him an incident that had been bothering me for quite some time. He told me to turn my Bible to Exodus 32:31-32 which reads “So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” After I finished reading the passage, he asked me, “Is there any other passage in the Bible where there’s a dash ‘-‘”? I thought for a moment and told him I didn’t think so. He then turned around and left. I was wondering why he left without answering my questions. Then I realized when I re-read the passage that he wanted me to find the answer in that passage. Rev. Leung wanted me to be like Moses, to pastor the flock God committed to my care with sacrificial love. This passage and teaching have been my help and encouragement during my ministry.
Reminiscing of Rev. Leung’s ministry, he faithfully brought NYCAC out of its financial difficulty, and many people responded to God’s call to become full time ministers. When NYCAC had become more established/stabilized, he left New York to pastor the Alliance church in Suriname. With his 10 years of service, the Suriname Alliance Church became a mission-focused church, and they started mission work in different parts of South America. Rev. Leung was already in his 70s and it should have been time for him to return to the US for retirement, however, he answered God’s call and he planted a few churches in Panama. I am thankful that I got to know Rev. Andrew Leung and am grateful to the Lord for his faithful service.
Rev. James Chung
Executive Director of the US Chinese Churches Association