Written by Mimi Tang
An interview for one person turned out to be coverage for two. Although the other person did not physically appear, her name was mentioned frequently throughout the interview. And such an important person happens to be Mrs. Polly Ng. They started as acquaintances back in the early days of Youth Sunday School and church choir. Things between them were “normal” in the beginning, until one day when Geoffrey suddenly felt “the special presence of this particular sister”… and the rest was history. On the last day of 2019, they celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. They chose to have their wedding on New Year’s Eve for one thing, it is easy to remember. And what’s more, it is a great day to share their joy with others. You can sense the generous temperament of the couple, “You know how late it usually gets when it comes to wedding banquet. So we may as well share our happiness with our brothers and sisters. What’s more, we can count down together.” After their child was born, they picked December as the month to write family letters. They use the letter as an annual recap of their thoughts throughout the year so their children could relive the memories in the future. 20 years later, their family letter has become a combined journal of four people. “Now that my children have grown up and know how to write, they need to hand in their homework to me!” Geoffrey loves smiling and tends to squint his eyes while doing so. Each time his precious children were mentioned during the interview, his eyes would curve into a crescent moon-like shape.
Speaking of Geoffrey’s role in the Word of Life ministry, Mrs. Ng is also a key connection. Polly took part in the Word of Life Bible study course soon after it was launched. In 2011, Geoffrey was assigned to work in Beijing, and his family had to relocate to the north. Polly, who was unable to attend the class anymore, was very reluctant to give up. Little did she know that four years later, she would participate in the Word of Life Bible study again at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship. As the ministry was being developed locally, Geoffrey was also able to offer help. And he would never have thought that he would be moved by God’s call which eventually led him back to Hong Kong in 2018, where he would devote himself officially to the Word of Life Ministry. “Originally I wanted to wait until my girl’s graduation from high school in 2021, and when I am more financially prepared to return to Hong Kong.” But he realized the urgency of the ministry and felt the support of his family for it. So without further delay, he decided to take a step ahead. “My wife said, ‘If God tells you to do it, then do it!’ And my older boy said, ‘If Dad has to go to school, I will make money to support my little sister.’ I was deeply moved by my child’s maturity. In fact, God had been moving me in prayers, and told me that I just needed to follow him.” There was a gap of three months after his resignation and it felt like a blank space in time. Geoffrey laughed and said that having diligently worked for so many years, he had never enjoyed such a leisurely life: During the day he would take the subway and the bus, and set off to wander around different attractions. “The biggest problem I had was that I would still hold my mobile phone and check email all day long, just to find out that I didn’t have any incoming email! What a weird behavior! That was such a quiet period of time. I realized I had always been surrounded by many things, and all of a sudden, everything disappeared. There were no more meetings to attend. I really had to adapt to the new way of life slowly.”
“Although I was mentally prepared, when it comes to giving, it turns out that it was a hard thing to do.” How hard was it? Geoffrey couldn't help laughing while thinking about it. He joined Intel Corporation since graduating from university, and had been involved in business operations and management until retirement. The company felt like a second home to him, where he has spent 27 years of days and nights. Coming to CGST means that, on one hand, he needs to completely reverse the decades-old life pattern, from being an “early bird” to a “night owl.” On the other hand, as his daughter is still studying in Beijing, he can only meet up with his wife and children while traveling endlessly between the two cities. In addition, he needs to reorganize his family expenditures and change his consumption habits. In the face of all these changes, he has listed nearly 20 “unreasonable things” just after two weeks into his new position. “I told Kwok-Kuen that I felt I was a misfit for this job, and I even showed him the list. However, I told him that I would pray with my wife before deciding. If by Monday when I came back [from Beijing] and said, ‘I am quitting’, it would obviously be a very rational decision. But if I chose to stay, it would definitely be rather irrational!”
As soon as he arrived at Beijing, Geoffrey buried himself in preparations for the Saturday Word of Life classroom video on the following day. That lesson was the third session of Exodus. It talked about Moses’ response to God’s call for mission as he kept saying “No! No! No!” At the end of the class, Kwok-Kuen shared about his own struggle of giving up while serving. At that moment, Geoffrey was sitting alone in the hall and cried: “The Spirit of God is answering all the questions that I’m struggling with.” On the day of class, he reviewed it again and was touched in the same way: “At that moment, I really felt ‘I can’t go on anymore!’” After returning home, he shared the whole incident with his innocent wife, and Polly comforted him, saying “If you really don't want to do it, just come back.”
The next morning, Polly was responsible for leading the hymn “Love, I am willing” in worship. It really struck Geoffrey in the heart with each word, “As I was sitting in the congregation, I was moved by the lyrics, ‘I do surrender in your embrace of love.’ God was just so amazing that he used this song to answer my struggles.” As a result, an “irrational” decision was made. Geoffrey stayed, and so did his list. It was kept to serve as a sign just like the sign of the stones.
Although there are still times when it’s hard to adapt, and there are occasional moments of loneliness, Geoffrey finds himself grateful for many new life-changing experiences: he has never lacked anything, as the unnecessary expenses have now been cut down, leaving life simpler and happier. His face has softened into smiles from the joy of serving, unlike his stressed look in the past – something even his daughter notices. Once she was trying to “persuade” him, “If you keep working in the seminary, all of us will be very happy!” This slip of tongue moment of his daughter made Geoffrey realize suddenly how his work had unconsciously affected his emotions, which in turn also affected the entire family. They were just afraid to tell him that.
He has been serving for two years, and has just replaced the retiring Mr. Leung Kwok-Kuen as the director of the ministry. Geoffrey cherishes the opportunity God gave him so that he can equip himself and be part of the ministry: “Over time you may not have the energy or ability to adapt anymore. There may not be anyone to hand over their ministry to you. If I have ten years, I can walk ten more miles for this ministry, and I will be extremely thankful for that!” As a church elder, he has served in his mother church for many years. Geoffrey has always hoped to “do a better job in teaching the Bible”: “Today, we can still study the Bible freely. We should cherish it and take it to heart. The Word of Life Ministry has developed into a global ministry. Going forward, we will need to establish connections with various global organizations. We will also try to launch our ministry in Asia and Europe. God has always moved my wife and me with a burden to help more brothers and sisters in Mainland China so they can better understand the Bible. If we believe that teaching them to read the Bible is a way of blessing them, we must be well prepared and keep an open mind. This way we will be able to take this ministry really far!”