by Rev. James Wong
I was in Melacca attending the Malaysia National Prayer Network convocation from the 1-3 Dec 2011 when I received a call informing me that Elder Thomas had returned to the Lord. I felt a great sense of loss of a dear friend and a fine leader in the church.
Elder Thomas left behind his beloved wife, Jessie Fung who is my administrator in the EGC office, and two lovely daughters, Joane and Rachael. Let us continue to keep them in prayer so that the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will bring them comfort.
Looking at the number of people who attended the Wake service on the evening of 5 Dec and the funeral the next day, Elder Thomas was a friend and brother to many. Through the many touching sharing and testimonies, I realize that his life had impacted many people. I have some fine thoughts about Elder Thomas.
1. He was always available. Availability is more important than talent as far as church ministry is concerned. Elder Thomas made himself available serving the Lord in many ministries. He was one of the willing persons who would travel to Labuan to share the Sunday message to bring encouragement to the church there. He also helped to preach in other ECG churches since we were facing a shortage of pastors. With his eloquence in English and Chinese, he was one of the beloved translators in the BCCM Likas service.
2. He was a fine leader. Leaders are fine diamonds in the church today. To grow big we need to lead followers but to multiply we need to train leaders. Elder Thomas became a Christian for only 15 years but his knowledge of the Bible far exceeded that of many others. He held many positions of leadership in the church. In the international arena, he was also one of the resident coordinators of the Haggai Institute in Maui, a Christian institution well known for her leadership training programs. He was not just a leader but a trainer for leadership. It was an inspiration for me to work with Elder Thomas.
3. He finished well. It has always been said, ‘it is not how you start, but how you finish.’ The Christian life is often akin to a race. During the funeral service, a portion of Elder Thomas’s preaching came through the speakers. We were able to hear him speak on finishing well and he challenged all the church members to emulate Paul who said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7). He ended his sermon by asking, “would the Lord say you are a good and faithful servant when each of us meet him one day?” Elder Thomas had finished well. We have started. Will we finish well?