A Chinese John Wesley: John Sung

A Chinese John Wesley
Revivalist who speaks to 2,000 people a day

A prophet of God, a preacher of righteousness, a John the Baptist calling his people to repentance, an Oriental Savonarola converting a whole city by preaching against the sins of society, a Chinese John Wesley translating into terms the Chinese can understand.

Such are some of the phrases one might use to describe a Chinese pastor who has recently come to Singapore and is demonstrating with rare power that the Singapore Chinese will respond to the same message which has been the same basis for all the great revivals of the past.

This man, Dr John Sung, still in his early thirties, comes from Hinghua, China, where his father and grandfather were preachers before him. 

At the age of 18 John worked his way on a boat to America where he arrived with $6 in his pocket. He worked his way across America until he succeeded in gaining admittance in an American college. After four years, earning his own living and and paying his college expenses as he studied, he attained his Bachelor’s Degree with highest honours. He continued another four years studying in New York city until he was granted a Ph.D in science.

Stories Dramatised

Dr Sung in Singapore has already accomplished marvels. His meetings, arranged under the auspices of the Singapore Chinese Christian Union, began last Friday August 30, in the Telok Ayer Methodist Church with an attendance of 600 people. Since then he has spoken to 2,000 people or more everyday, three meetings daily at 9 a.m. 3 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. each meeting lasting from two and half to three hours. He speaks in Mandarin while his interpreter speaks in Hokkien. 

His methods are related to those of all the great evangelists but he has evidenced the greatest originality in showing how gospel stories can be put in Chinese. He dramatises the stories as he speaks and with the help of the blackboard makes his figures concrete by chalk sketches. At any point of his sermon he may stop to break forth into song and lead his congregation in the singing of a rousing hymn. 

In the best manner of a Chinese actor, he seems able to imitate any voice or play the part of any character. 

Scoffers become converts

Dr Sung has shown rare ability in using mass methods in teaching, reading, singing and prayer. He has already inspired thousands in Singapore to buy Bibles and at every meeting spends much time in teaching them how to read and study their Bibles. Those who come to scoff or be entertained have returned to pray.

The crowd coming from the Telok Ayer district is itself a most interesting study. Not only has he taught this congregation to read, to sing and to pray but he is teaching these new converts how to prepare themselves for effective service in the churches in which they are to return.

​(The Straits Times, 8 September 1935, Page 8)

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