Rev Choi Chung-Ching
MDiv 2000, Senior Pastor of Hong Kong (Western) Swatow Baptist Church
Chairman of Student Union (1999-2000), Committee member of Alumni Association and Director of CGST Board
Interviewed and written by: Chan Hing-Ling (Alumni Affairs Coordinator)
Chung Ching offered a prayer
and blessing in Sunday service
Chung Ching with his wife Betty
and son Elijah
Stepping into the new century of the Third Millennium, the title of the Journal of the 23rd Graduation Class of CGST was “Become a Cross-Century Worker in the Kingdom of God”. Alumnus Choi Chung-Ching was a MDiv graduate of that year. Fourteen years have gone by in the New Millennium in the blink of an eye. In the 14 years of his pastoral life, Chung Ching has become an ordained pastor (in 2006), and has become the senior pastor of his church. Looking back and reflecting on his pastoring and shepherding across the century, Chung Ching felt that he is just an unworthy servant doing his duty, but at the same time he has never felt freer in his heart.
Chung Ching was born into a Christian family. His parents were Chiuchow people. He grew up in “Swatow Baptist Church” founded by his uncle. Chung Ching dreamt of being a governor when he grew up, so he was naturally passionate about history and politics. After graduating from the Department of History in the university, Chung Ching has always wanted to be a scholar. During the decade while he worked in the Department of Chinese with the Hong Kong Government and was responsible for translation, he continued to do historical research and moved closer to his goal of being a scholar. On one fine day, he suddenly looked back on his life and asked himself, “What exactly do I want to do with my life? I am spending most of my time sorting out historical data in the archive room, but how many people would be looking at these materials? Is this what I really want for my life?” With this, he decided resolutely to give up his research work and started to redefine the direction of his life. With a steady job in hand, Chung Ching started to devote more time leading bible-study classes and focusing on spreading the gospel.
“Man starts to stand at 30” as the Chinese saying goes. On his 33rd birthday, a brother asked Chung Ching what was his birthday wish. Chung Ching thought about our Lord Jesus finishing His mission on earth and returning to the Father at the age of 33! Chung Ching asked God, “What can I do?” There and then, Chung Ching knew that there was something he just had to do as he might otherwise not have another chance, and remembering what he said at his graduation, “Life is like the morning dew…” Two years later, Chung Ching suffered panic disorder which was started off by a cold. He was reading Isaiah 42 during recovery from his illness and it became clear to him that what he wanted to do most was to serve God. He responded to God’s call by entering into a theological school, preparing himself to join the rank of workers in the Kingdom of God.
The things he relished while at CGST include time spent discussing theological topics with his classmates under the trees and being attentive to the lectures. Studying in the theological school has increased Chung Ching’s awareness and continuously stimulated his curiosity about theology. Up to this date, Chung Ching still maintains his learning attitude of “inquisitive but not nosy”. Being inquisitive about theology enables him to keep asking and wanting to know more and not be complacent.
Chung Ching serves as pastor of the church founded by his uncle. Today, there are more than 300 members attending the Sunday services in Hong Kong (Western) Swatow Baptist Church. Reflecting on his pastoral role over the past 14 years, Chung Ching deeply feels that a pastor needs to hold onto his calling from the Lord and shepherd the church according to His will, doing simply what the Lord wants from him. However, pastors are often wary of people’s opinions and devote a lot of time and energy responding to people’s requests and satisfying their wishes. This will distort the focus of shepherding and lead to worn out of the body and the spirit.
To understand the will of God, Chung Ching needs to maintain his daily quiet time with prayers, praise worship and meditation. A pastor should devote his life praying to experience the Lord’s glory. However, it is regrettable that such seemingly simple devotional practice often could make a pastor feels lost. A pastor needs to strive to always return to the Lord’s presence in order not to lose his direction while shepherding.
On his path of shepherding, Chung Ching is blessed to have mentors during the different phases of his life, reminding him of things he need to pay attention to in his pastoral work and helping him to build up a pastor’s healthy image. When Chung Ching started off as a pastor, he had the caring guidance of Rev. Chan Hay-Him. In their weekly meetings, Pastor Chan selflessly shared his many years of pastoral experience. Chung Ching’s brother and co-worker in church, Choi Chung-ho, is also an exemplary model. They grow up in church together. Chung-ho has given up his career as a doctor and commits his life to the Kingdom of God. He graduated from CGST in 2007 and both have since served at their mother church together. As the senior pastor, Chung Ching has to lead his brother and his co-workers to serve the church as a team, but he never feels uncomfortable about it. His brother gives him full support. The two brothers use their different gifts from God to support and complement each other to build up the church with a united heart.
Family is also a shepherding ground for Chung Ching. He views his spouse as the focus of his service and “achievement”. Chung Ching refuses to become a “monster parent”. The couple does not require their children to “win at the starting line”. After Chung Ching returns home from work, he usually plays with his 10-year-old son, laughs and jokes with him and tells history stories. This gives Chung Ching immense satisfaction.
“We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (Luke 17:10). When a servant submits to his master totally and unreservedly and fulfils his duty loyally, isn’t this the freedom that can truly be enjoyed by a servant?