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When the Lord determined to establish a Reformed church in Singapore, He chose the men and women who would be members in that church. And in His wisdom, He determined wise and gifted men to lead and guide the church. None have been more instrumental in God’s work in the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church than Leong Fai Chong.

The First Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore was organized in 1982. In 1987, a daughter congregation was organized and adopted the name Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church. One of the first men elected to the office of elder was Leong Fai Chong, who was part of the original group of young Singaporeans that met to study God’s Word in the 1970s. He would serve in the office of elder in Covenant the next thirty- four years with only one year off. His life was devoted to the church. God used Elder Leong powerfully to lead and guide the congregation in the truth for over three decades. In June of 2022, the dear brother was diagnosed with cancer. A few weeks later, on July 27, 2022, the Lord took him to his eternal home.

I would like to give the readers a sense of the man that God used for the work of serving His church in Singapore. Elder Leong was a cheerful and personable man. He had that rare ability to make everyone feel that he or she was important, no matter what station or calling the individual had. He was equally attentive to ministers as he was to widows, young adults, and children. He listened to troubles with a sympathetic ear, and had an amazing ability to lift the spirit and bring the hurting one to a smile if not a laugh. God gave the brother a wise and understanding heart. He was patient, loyal to a fault, and amazingly longsuffering. He told me once that he could be “fierce,” but by the time I came to know him well, he by God’s grace demonstrated tremendous restraint and Christian love to all. He was full of life and joy, but he lived for others not for himself.

Elder Leong Fai Chong

The key to all of that is the Christian virtue of humility with which God abundantly endowed the man. He lived out of the consciousness that he was a sinner, saved by grace. This genuine humility was accompanied by the twin virtue of meekness. He could endure vicious attacks and not respond in kind. He served the Lord, not himself. Touch the glory of God, and brother Leong would immediately rise to defend. But his own honor was unimportant. Such a man God gave our sister church in Singapore. It was impossible for a believer not to love this dear Christian.

Elder Leong was a devoted father and a doting grandfather. He regularly stopped in the home of his married daughter and son-in-law and made meals for them and played with the younger ones while his daughter homeschooled the other children. He lived to serve.

He had a particular love for children and endeared himself to many of them in Singapore, in the United States, and in India. His gentle nature enabled him effortlessly to come to their level, connecting and building a bond with them through his “magic” tricks and intriguing games. Just one personal example illustrates this amazing ability to connect with children. Once, in his only trip to the PRC Synod, he stayed for a few days in our home. We invited our children and grandchildren to visit us on that Sunday and visit with elder Leong. After a time of visiting, he slipped away from the adults and unbeknownst to us, went downstairs to visit the children. This Chinese man, a total stranger to the children, one they probably had difficulty even understanding, won their hearts completely. Some came running up to show us the tricks he had taught them. The next Sunday, a seven-year-old granddaughter asked hopefully, “Will Papa John be there, too?” (John was the Western name he employed for non-Singaporeans.) His love for children was genuine and they could feel it immediately.

God led brother Leong through personal trials and sorrows. He was married to Sum Kwai Peng, a dear, vivacious, and cheerful saint who loved to show lovely, Christian hospitality. The Lord blessed them with four children in a time when the government of Singapore put great pressure on their citizens to have no more than two children. But then came great sorrow as the Lord struck Kwai Peng with cancer. She died in October of 2001, leaving her husband with four young children. He had no good Christian school to assist him, and he lived in a land full of idolatry, not at all conducive to raising a family with four children in the Christian faith. By God’s grace, brother Leong reared them in the fear of the Lord and they all confessed their faith in the Lord Jesus. God eventually blessed him with grandchildren who are faithful members of CERC. For some time, he was the only member to have grandchildren in CERC, a congregation that consisted almost entirely of first and second generation Christians.

By that same grace of God, elder Leong was a steady, guiding hand through many trials in Covenant ERC. As elder, he participated in the ordination or installation of four different ministers, many of which ministries did not end well. The congregation endured many lengthy stretches without a pastor of their own. Elder Leong cheerfully welcomed, entertained, and instructed many PRC ministers who came to help CERC, whether for a few weeks or a longer time.

None of the troubles compared to the ecclesiastical turmoil he faced in the early 2000s when the small denomination was torn apart by the controversy over divorce and remarriage. Elder Leong’s own pastor and one other elder supported remarriage after divorce. The Session was divided 3-3. Elder Leong held his ground, and yet wisely did everything he could to hold the small congregation together, while at the same time seeking to preserve unity in the denomination. When the Lord suddenly took CERC’s pastor through a totally unexpected illness and death, the Session voted 3-2 to reject remarriage. Because the other congregation, First ERC, stood officially in favor of remarriage, the small denomination divided. Many members left CERC, but more members came from First ERC to Covenant, including the long-time pastor of FERC, Pastor Lau Chin Kwee. The elders faced the monumental task of melding this congregation into one body. Subsequently, they worked to reestablish a sister-church relationship with the Protestant Reformed Churches.

The history supports the reflection of one of elder Leong’s fellow elders (in response to my request for the same), “He thought deeply, and independently.” Another noted

his steadfast trust in the Lord to care for and provide for CERC, through all her trials, some very severe, since her inception back in 1987. While he sacrificed and pressed on in serving in the office as an elder through all the difficulties, he never failed to remind the Session that the church belongs to God and it is HE that will ultimately preserve His church, not any man. Fai Chong signed off many of his emails and letters with the phrase “He cares,” which to me is a reflection of this trust in the Lord’s unfailing care, both for himself personally as well as for the church, in all things.

The toil, trouble, and sorrow of this division can scarcely be grasped. But God has blessed the faithfulness of brother Leong and many others with him. CERC embraced the doctrine of the unconditional covenant of grace that undergirds the truth of marriage. The congregation loves and lives out of this doctrine. God has given to the congregation many marriages of godly young men and women and many children as well as covenant-maintaining singles who refuse to marry an unbeliever. All this runs counter to the culture of their country which esteems the wealth of a two-income family and a wife who pursues a career, not mothers who stay home raising children.

In spite of the many serious concerns and labors for family and congregation, elder Leong was also outward looking. He freely witnessed to many in Singapore of Jesus his Savior. He had a great love for missions and often spent himself visiting the mission fields, first in Penang, Malaysia, and more recently Kolkata, India. He was especially enthusiastic about the Kolkata mis sion field, and developed a close bond with the saints there. He was to them as a godly and wise father and grandfather and his passing brought deep sadness to all in the fellowship.

Elder Leong was a sympathetic friend, counselor, and teacher of many. Many of his efforts were unknown to other members of the congregation. His work was done without fanfare. His efforts to help arose spontaneously out of the love of Christ within him. In the last year, after he declined to serve as elder because he was not feeling quite up to the work, he continued to assist many members of CERC with advice and instruction.

Elder Leong was not perfect, of course. Surely people could write and tell me of his failures and sins. He confided some of the same to me. But he was a man that God used for good. That is the point of this article: not to glorify man but to see God’s great work in and through him. Elder Leong stood steadfastly for the truth of God when it was attacked, and worked energetically for the preservation of the congregation and the well-being of her members which he loved. God sustained him, and God used him.

Thus he left behind a godly example for the saints and especially the officebearers of CERC to follow. The example includes a determination to defend the church and to hold fast to the truth, all the while demonstrating love for God and for His people. Those who were privileged to know him, thank God for him and his many years of faithful service. I can think of no more fitting way to end but to quote Revelation 14:13: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”